I get at least 50 calls and emails every week with questions about dog training and the majority of those calls are questions about my use of the E collar. Most of the callers are pet owners that watch my videos or videos by other trainers that utilize e collars and want to train their dog with the magic tool. I think some of them may actually think that all you have to do is point the remote at the dog wearing the e collar and press a few buttons and the dog will do whatever you want. Unfortunately it does not work like that, not even close.

In my opinion, the e collar is the greatest tool ever developed for dog training but unfortunately it is also the most misused and misunderstood. Most people still see the e collar as a corrective tool and a punishment tool. I don’t and I know that I am not alone here. Although many trainers out there are taking advantage of the benefits from proper e collar use many still just use it to correct their dog for not doing what is desired when given a command or exhibiting unwanted behavior. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with either as long as the dog has been properly taught and conditioned to know and understand what the stimulation means from the e collar and the dog fully understands the command that has been given.

Because the e collar is so effective many people are not taking the time to properly train their dog with what I consider the most important tool, the leash. Leash communication is vital in your dog’s development and without it you will miss out on all the benefits of good leash work and guidance. I won’t get into teaching leash work here because that is a whole other subject. I must admit that as a professional trainer I too was once guilty of relying on the e collar way too much with my clients. One day I was on my way to a group class and it dawned on me that I was no longer teaching people how to train dogs, I was only teaching people how to use an e collar, and that was wrong. So that Saturday morning when everyone arrived ready to train their dogs in class I asked everyone to put away their remotes. They looked at me like I was nuts. They wanted to know why and I saw nervousness on all of their faces. I informed them that from this day on they would learn how to train dogs for real, not just how to use a tool. Needless to say it went very well and my clients became much better dog handlers because of it.
Another misconception that many people have is that I teach my dogs how to perform different behaviors with the e collar. Again not true. I teach everything through motivation, mostly with food. I will only add e collar work to a command once my dog knows the command inside and out.

I work with a lot of aggression cases. If you watch any of my videos with {aggressive} you will see many comments about me fixing or correcting the aggression with the remote collar. Again, I do not. I do not use the remote collar to correct, punish, or address the aggression in any way. I believe that just teaches the dog to suppress the aggression to avoid the stimulation. I prefer to actually change the dog’s mindset and truly get rid of the aggression.
We can go on forever so I will get to the number one question I get in regards to e collar training. People want to know how exactly do I condition the dog and why do my dogs actually look happy. It’s simple, they are. For me the e collar is a fantastic communication system that provides OFF LEASH freedom for my dogs, that’s it. Can I use it to correct my dogs, YES, but only once they truly understand what that weird sensation on their neck is.
Below is exactly how I condition my dogs and my client’s dogs to the e collar. I did not invent this system or discover some new scientific information that will award me the Nobel Peace Prize. I do not hide anything I do, I show it all. I do not care that my competitors in my area see this and copy me. You cannot become a great trainer by watching videos or reading a book. It can help but it takes a lot of time and hundreds of dogs to truly become a great dog trainer and it is no different in becoming a great e collar trainer. It takes practice practice practice. If you are a great trainer the e collar will make you better. If you are a not so good trainer, the e collar will destroy you and every dog you use it on.

Before you start e collar training I highly recommend you become familiar with leash work and marker training. This will make e collar training a lot more effective:

Conditioning the dog to the collar:

First start with a hungry dog. I use Natural Balance or Red Barn food roll for training. Put the dog on a 15 foot line. Put a piece of training food in front of the dog and get it to follow it a little before marking with a YES and reward. Do this for a few minutes so your dog associates the marker word with the reward. The collar is already on at this point. After a few minutes you can now start conditioning with the E Collar.

Conditioning with the nick button: With your dog on a long line,(15ft.) give the come command and immediately AFTER tap the nick button and give a tug on the line at the same time. As soon as the dog turns to head your way use the marker word(YES) and reward the behavior. Remember to mark or say the marker word the second the dog starts your way. Continue to practice this for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

Conditioning with the continuous button: With your dog on a long line, press the button FIRST and keep it pushed down. Give the come command and a quick tug on the leash right after you give the command. As soon as the dog starts to move toward you release the continuous button and say YES rewarding the dog’s movement toward you. Make sure to present the treat for your dog to see. The reward should immediately follow the word YES. With the continuous button the dog is turning off the collar stimulation by performing the command. Continue to practice this for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

You should keep it simple and condition your dog this way for 1 to 2 weeks depending on the dog’s learning ability. Five to ten minutes a few times a day is better than 30 to 60 minutes at a time. Keep it short or the dog will lose interest in training. When possible train before instead of right after meals. The hungrier your dog is the more rewarding your training food will be.

After your dog is conditioned to the collar, continue to use it as much as possible for several weeks. Remember to always give command first then follow with a tap on the collar immediately after the command, nick or continuous, it does not matter once the dog understands both. After a few weeks you will use the collar intermittently, meaning tap the collar every other command, then every third command. This is how we start weaning the dog off relying on the collar. The main goal is to have the dog listen to the verbal command, not just the collar stimulation. This is how the dog learns to obey weather or not the collar is on.