There are many responsibilities associated with dog ownership, and providing adequate and effective training is right at the top of the list. Training the dog properly not only makes them easier to care for, but it also serves to protect them and keep them out of harm’s way. Fortunately for owners, there is a wealth of information on dog ownership and training, and many different experts have shared their insights on the topic. In fact, there are specific outlines to follow when potty training the dog, and there are even nutritional guidelines and vitamin supplements that can help keep dogs healthy and extend their lives. However, no two dogs are exactly the same, and therefore training needs can differ even between dogs of the same litter. Furthermore, a dog’s behavior is directly tied to their environment, so the owner must keep this in mind as well when determining the best way to modify a dog’s behavior. Dog owners who have exhausted traditional methods of training and are in need of a more drastic approach can turn to shock collars. These training collars condition the dog to avoid negative behaviors by teaching them to associate certain actions with an electronic shock, and these devices can be very effective if used appropriately. Owners looking to purchase and use a shock collar should learn about the three most common types on the market and understand the ways the collars should and should not be used when training their pet.

Types of Dog Shock Collars

There are three main types of shock collars available on the market, and dog owners should determine which best suits their training needs. The three types owners can choose from are containment collars, barking collars, and general obedience collars.

Dog Containment Systems

Containment systems, also known as invisible or underground fences, work by keeping the dog within a specified section of the yard. They require professional installation, a procedure in which an electric wire is buried along a designated perimeter of outdoor space. The underground wire is linked up with a collar that the dog wears while outside. When the dog approaches the boundary of the electric fence, it receives a warning noise, and if the animal proceeds in the wrong direction, a shock is delivered via the collar. There are many variations within this system. Some collars adjust the shock level automatically depending on the dog’s behavior, while others require owners to control it manually and increase the shock value if the dog consistently crosses the boundaries. The overall objective is to keep the dog safe, and these types of collars have proved to be very effective in doing so.

Barking Collars

Owners who cannot seem to prevent their dog from barking incessantly can explore options for a barking collar. As the name implies, these collars have one main function. They send a vibration or electric shock through the collar whenever the dog barks at a loud volume. Most collars have adjustable settings that the owner can use to determine the volume that is acceptable; other more restrictive devices deliver the shock whenever any noise or vibration is sensed. These collars have been proven to be very effective in achieving their objective, as dogs typically make the connection quickly and respond accordingly.

Obedience Collars

Also known as remote shock collars or e-collars, these devices work in conjunction with a handheld remote. The remote allows the owner to deliver the shock with the push of a button whenever the dog misbehaves. The remote control has different intensity levels that the owner can match up with the severity of the dog’s offenses. Obedience collars, as well as the other two varieties, are very effective if used appropriately, however, there are some guidelines that owners should follow. The following list of do’s and don’ts outlines some best practices for using shock collars and points out a few things to avoid.

1. Do Buy the Collar That Matches the Training Needs

Owners should buy the type of collar that matches their dog’s disposition, their environment, and the most pressing training needs. For example, there is no need to purchase an electronic fence if the owner plans on walking their dog several times a day or if there is no way for the dog to escape the property. Likewise, a barking collar is probably not required for dogs that are relatively docile and only bark when the mailman walks up the driveway. The decision to buy a shock collar can be made in conjunction with a professional vet or a merchant at the local pet store and should always address the specific needs of the pet.

2. Do Purchase Collars With Beep and Tone Mode

Almost all shock collars allow the owner to send an audible beep or other noise when the dog misbehaves. Owners are encouraged to use the noise first to see if it deters the dog’s behavior. If initially the noise is not enough, use it in conjunction with the shock. If the noise alone is effective, it may prevent the need to shock the dog altogether. If the shock is needed, it may only be needed a few times. As with the containment collar, the dog comes to associate the beep with the discomfort rather quickly and should eventually respond to the beeping noise when they hear it. This prevents the dog from experiencing any unnecessary pain and still achieves the desired effect.

3. Do Explore Other Training Options

Shock collars are definitely effective in achieving their desired results, however, owners should try to train their dog in the absence of the collar first to determine how they respond to positive and negative feedback. For example, dogs that become very aggressive when scolded by the owner may lash out when they receive an electric shock, and the best course of action for these pets should be determined in conjunction with a breeder or training professional.

4. Don’t Buy a Collar Before Buying a Dog

Many dog owners purchase dog supplies, such as a dog crate, leash, chewable toys, and treats, as soon as they identify the desired breed. Stocking up on supplies is a great idea, as the owners can then provide for the new dog as soon as soon as they arrive home. However, a shock collar should not be one of the items that is purchased prior to the dog. The reason is that the behavior of the dog and the training style of the owner should be the two biggest determining factors in the decision to purchase a shock collar. If the dog responds to simple verbal commands, and the owner is diligent in reinforcing positive and negative behavior, there may be no need for a shock collar at all. Dogs that do not respond to behavioral conditioning are those that may require the use of an electronic collar, and this decision can be made after the dog is acclimated to its new home and environment.

5. Don’t Cause the Dog to Fear the Handheld Device

One association that dog owners should try to prevent is the link between the handheld device and the actual shock sensation caused by an obedience collar. For instance, if the dog misbehaves and the owner grabs the handheld device in front of them, they subsequently feel the shock from the collar. At first they will not pick up on the connection, but for most dogs, it does not take long to realize that the handheld device is causing the discomfort. By extension, then, the owner (not their behavior) is actually the source of the pain. An important piece of the training puzzle is the cultivation of the owner as both the disciplinarian and the “safe place” where the dog can come for forgiveness. If the dog makes a clear connection between the remote control and the painful sensation, they may come to fear the owner. Therefore, it is best to keep the handheld device out of sight when the shock is delivered.

6. Don’t Use the Collar With a Leash

The shock collar is designed to train the dog when they are not tethered to a leash; they receive a shock in order to condition them to behave on their own. When owners are walking their dog, and any other time they have direct control over the dog’s behavior, they should not be using the shock collar. There are two main reasons to avoid this practice. First, the electronic collars are not designed for this purpose and the tension from a dog leash could prove disastrous if too much tension is applied, especially if a shock is administered. The collar could end up injuring the dog, snapping in half, or both. Second, dog owners should positively and negatively reinforce actions on their own when they are walking their dogs. They can use the leash to communicate with the dog and should not need an electronic device when the leash in in their hands. If both a leash and a shock collar are used in conjunction with one another, the dog will receive mixed messages and become confused instead of obedient.

7. Don’t Use the Electronic Shock Unless Absolutely Necessary

There are many professional studies that warn of adverse effects associated with shock collars. Specifically, dogs trained using electronic shock collars display more fear and anxiety in social settings, and many researchers claim that the collars actually increase aggression. Delivering repeated electric shocks is likely to cause the dog to become afraid to make a false move, and they could become too timid for their own good. Therefore, owners should reserve electronic shocks for behaviors that warrant them and not for small incidents that can be handled with a firm “No!” and a wag of the finger.


There are dogs in over 78 million households in the U.S. alone. The unconditional love and affection that dogs display, the companionship they provide, and the fun activities they can participate in are just a few of the reasons they have earned the title of Man’s Best Friend. However, the best dog owners are those who show their canine friend tough love and dedicate themselves to training them quickly and efficiently. For many owners, shock collars are the means to this end. Dog owners should understand the three main types of shock collars and match the right type to their dog and their environment. In addition, dog owners should follow a few guidelines in order to purchase the right device and use it appropriately. For instance, owners should use the beep and tone mode initially and only shock their pet when absolutely necessary. Also, dog owners should explore other training options as well and use them in conjunction with the shock collar to condition their pet’s behavior. Dog owners should never purchase a collar prior to purchasing a dog and also avoid attaching the collar to a leash to prevent damage and injury. Owners who follow these guidelines and use eBay to make an informed purchase can use collars effectively and keep their best friend out of harm’s way.