Electronic training collars…a little perspective

A decades-old electronic training collar left behind by a previous dog trainer. I found it in the office of our Georgia kennel.

A decades-old electronic training collar left behind by a previous dog trainer. I found it in the office of our Georgia kennel.

That is a frightening-looking unit that seems more suitable for a Frankenstein movie than for dog training.

But that’s exactly what it is—a TX electronic training collar made by Sensitronix in 1969. I found it in the kennel office of our Georgia training grounds.

The first electronic training collars, often called shock collars, were developed in the 1950s. They were big, bulky and unreliable and could deliver only one, hot level of shock. Their primary use was to break bad habits such as chasing off-game but they were also used as a last resort to bring in a run-off. The high voltage could just as easily ruin a dog as fix a problem.

The electronic training collars of today are as different from older models as are the earliest mobile phones from current, sleek Apple and android devices. Commonly called “ecollars” now, they are extremely reliable and much smaller in size. Most provide two types of stimulation—continuous and momentary—and some offer vibration or tone options. Most importantly, the level of stimulation is highly adjustable and can be modified to the dog’s sensitivity and training situation. The lowest levels are imperceptible to most dogs.

Unfortunately, a stigma remains about the use of ecollars. Some people still believe they are cruel and prefer to train the “old-fashioned way.” Well, that quaint way incorporated some brutal treatment:  jerking a dog around on a very long check cord, dragging a dog behind a horse to bring it back where it knocked birds, using a flushing whip, throwing objects and/or peppering the dog with rat shot or 9-shot from a shotgun.

Used properly, today’s ecollars are, by far, the safest, most humane and most effective training tool available. They provide the ability to correct a dog the second it makes a mistake with the lowest level of stimulation necessary and the impersonal capability to correct a dog when working at a distance. Too, at a higher level, a dog learns it has control of the ecollar through its behavior.

As with any tool, though, an ecollar is only as good as the person wielding it. The dog must understand what is expected and must be properly introduced to ecollar stimulation. And the person still must learn the basics of dog training before using an ecollar.


    Spotlight:  Northwoods Mercury

    Northwoods Mercury (Northwoods Parmigiano x Northwoods Rum Rickey, 2014)

    Shot this pic this morning. He had a single grouse stapled.
    ~ Paul Fischer, hunting sharptails in North Dakota

    Good stuff about puppies

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    A pointing dog’s first hunting season
    Bird and gun introduction
    Early development of puppies
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    How to pick a puppy
    Patience and puppies
    Picking puppies: the unimportance of picking order
    Puppies and fireworks
    Puppy buying mistakes
    Raising puppies at Northwoods Bird Dogs
    The pointing instinct
    Training puppies on a stakeout chain

    Good stuff from previous posts

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    Finer points on...

    A brace of bird dogs
    Accuracy of location
    Bird finding
    How to flush grouse and woodcock
    Hunting pattern
    Running grouse
    Scenting ability
    Speed and scenting
    To point a bird, first a dog has to find it
    Using grouse dogs on pheasants


    A bump or a knock
    Backing point
    Bird dog basics:  hunt, handle, point birds
    Bumping grouse
    Electronic training collars...a little perspective
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    Patience and puppies
    The pointing instinct
    Transition to wild birds
    Unproductive points
    WHOA and NO


    Dogs, not averages, matter in breeding
    Evaluating litters
    Pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs
    Proper conformation
    The tail of a bird dog


    Bird dogs and hidden traps
    Feeding bird dogs
    Feeding for ideal body condition
    First aid kit for bird dogs
    Get your dog ready for the season
    Hazards in the grouse woods
    How to maintain a good weight for your dog
    Quick lesson on poisoning and how to induce vomiting
    Tick-borne diseases in dogs


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