Okay, there’s more than one e-collar myth. Few tools seem to have as much mythology, fear, and misunderstanding about them as do e-collars. And it’s really a bummer, because few tools are as beneficial in helping dogs and owners to succeed as is the e-collar.
Let’s just tackle a few myths:
-E-collars burn dogs. No, actually they don’t generate heat, and are incapable of burning dogs. (Take some toilet paper and try to light it on fire with an e-collar.)
-“Yes they do, I’ve seen the burn marks!” What you’ve seen are pressure sores from the e-collar contact points pushing on the skin in the same place for too long. The e-collar receiver should be rotated to a different location every 4 hours or so so avoid this. (Also, some dogs have allergies to the nickel in the stainless steel, and need different contact points to avoid this issue.)
-E-collars are like electrocuting your dog. Actually, e-collars are much the same as a tens unit that us humans use frequently for physical therapy. There is no harm done to your dog. Every owner we train with has to first put the collar on themselves to feel what it’s like. They’re always surprised by what it ACTUALLY feels like.
E-collars hurt your dog and are a painful way to train. Actually, modern e-collars are highly adjustable. In the old days they had few levels and COULD be extremely unpleasant at all settings. Contemporary collars ofter 100 or more increments/levels of stimulation. That means you can find the perfect level for your dog, and most training occurs with levels that are barely perceptible to humans. (Typically dogs work between 3-8 out of 100 levels.)
E-collars will electrocute my dog if they get wet. Actually, e-collars (the transmitter that your dog wears) is waterproof. They were made for hunting dogs who go in water frequently. And the stimulation perception when in water is actually lessened, not enhanced.
E-collars are a shortcut for lazy trainers and owners. Actually, shortcut simply means they are more effective at clearly communicating. They make training much clearer and easier for your dog. That’s why dogs advance much more quickly with e-collar training. I haven’t met any dog owners who when given the choice would rather have problem behavior, or training itself, take longer than necessary. If there’s a better, quicker way, isn’t that the better choice?
E-collars are a last resort solution. Actually, e-collars are being used regularly (for even mild and teeny dogs) as an invisible leash in the house and outside, so owners and dogs can enjoy more freedom, less stress, and more reliability. While they can be godsends for dangerous behavior (running away, livestock chasing, consuming dangerous objects etc.), most of the time they’re used simply to create a great relationship and ensure owners have dogs that listen and are reliable in everyday life.
E-collars are only for aggressive dogs, and should NEVER be used on a nervous or fearful dog. Actually, nervous, insecure, and even extremely fearful dogs are some of the best candidates for, and excel with e-collar training. In fact, I’ve seen few things help a fearful dog more than properly executed e-collar training.
E-collars are easily abused, and uninformed owners often destroy their relationship and their dog with e-collar training. Actually, I’ve seen the exact opposite. I’ve seen owners be far more cautious and careful with e-collar training than any other tool. I can’t remember the last time I had to tell a client to turn the dial down, but we’re always having to coach clients to turn up when necessary. Any tool can of course be abused, but after thousands of dogs and owners trained, all we’ve seen is more care and caution, not the reverse.
E-collars are easily abused by nasty folks who like to hurt dogs. Actually, if you want to hurt dogs there about a million cheaper and easier ways to do so. I’m not sure there are many evil folks spending good money to abuse dogs when shoes, shovels, gas and many other things are easier and cheaper.
So that’s not an exhaustive list, but it covers the big ones I see trotted out most often. The truth is, after using just about every tool available, trying just about every approach available, we’ve gone to a full e-collar program for every dog we train at TGD. Why? Because the results – for both dog and owner – are simply undeniable. Our single goal has been to find what works best and helps the most. And we find that regardless of issues or goals, e-collar training has been the very best for all our clients.
There will be a never-ending stream of angry (and likely I’ll-informed) rhetoric and resistance to e-collars from many camps, but I encourage you to do the work to dig a little deeper. Dig past the fear mongering, and the nasty sounding sound bites. My guess is that if you actually had a chance to see and try e-collar training, absent of all the propaganda surrounding it, you’d likely be a fan too. Just imagine, an invisible leash that allows you to safely communicate with your dog up to a mile away. Imagine walks without reactivity. Imagine commands that your dog actually listens to. Imagine a well-behaved dog having the freedom to run and play safely. It’s pretty amazing stuff. And I’m so glad we have them.