The Case For E-Collars

By Ron Dorazio

Many people, even many dog trainers, believe that the use of e-collars for dog training is inhumane. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it’s true that there is an ever growing segment of the dog training world that believes that all training should be done with positive reinforcement alone, it really doesn’t take a professional dog trainer to know that it rarely works. Just think of your own dogs. Do you believe they will learn to always obey and always do the right thing simply because you’ve convinced them with treats and praise? Not very likely, is it!

That said, most of our training at Rapid Results is done with positive reinforcement. We use a system called “Reward Marker Training”, which is a powerful method of communicating with dogs. It’s fun, fast, and it helps build wonderful relationships between dogs and their owners. We only wish it was just that easy! But in the real world when your dog bolts out of the house and heads for a heavily trafficked highway, a treat, should you coincidentally have one at hand, is probably not going to bring him back. 

That’s why the Rapid Results Dog Training method uses occasional corrections along with the positive reinforcement. They can vary from simple vocal corrections, to light tugs, to minimal e-collar stimulations. More on that later.

But regardless of what the “totally positive” crowd believes, corrections are necessary for the well-being of the dog. Millions of dogs end up at shelters and are euthanized because their owners couldn’t control them. And a great many of those dogs went through some sort of dog training before their owners gave up. So trainers using only positive reinforcement may think they it’s humane, but actually it isn’t!

So back to the e-collars. Rapid Results uses e-collars at the lowest level of stimulation that gets your dog’s attention. A typical well-made collar has at least 100 levels of stimulation, and oftentimes we are able to work with dogs at levels so low (perhaps 5 – 10) that the owners can’t even feel them if they try it on themselves. Obviously this is far from the pain and cruelty that purely positive trainers believe. But then again, how would they even know!

Other ways to give dogs corrections are the old fashioned methods of using some version of choke collar. We typically don’t use them because they are potentially harmful. And when you think about it, what seems gentler, a nearly imperceptible stim from an e-collar, or a yank from a 6 foot leash connected to a choke collar?
But besides e-collars being gentler and more effective than other methods of training corrections, you also get the bonus of having your dog off leash trained quickly. 


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