Demystifying The Modern Myths And Misconceptions About Electronic Training Collars

There are many training collar myths about the use of electric training collars, bark collars, and electric fence collars. Electric dog fences, bark collars, and dog training collars have become a popular method for pet owners to control the behaviors they find undesirable in their beloved pet. With prices of these training systems becoming more affordable and pet owners finding them to be safe and effective, product sales have dramatically increased. As the widespread availability and increased sales of these electronic training collars grow, so do many of the many myths and misconceptions about them. These myths are often based on misinformation or ignorance of the facts. Unfortunately, many people believe these rumors and miss the opportunity of using a valuable dog training tool.

Myth #1: Electronic training collars are not safe

One of the most common questions asked by pet owners is “Will this hurt my dog.” When used correctly, Absolutely Not! Today’s electric dog fence collars, bark collars and dog training collars are more humane because they only emit a very mild electric stimulation. The “shock” produced by these electronic training collars is not painful, physically jarring or harmful and is nowhere near the level of intensity that some people think. In fact, the electric stimulation is actually a static correction similar to what happens when you rub your feet on the carpet and then touch something. The response is usually surprising and uncomfortable but, by no means, painful or harmful.

The following chart compares the energy discharge of electronic training collars with many common items. The energy output is measured in Kilovolts:

1- Electronic containment system such as an invisible fence at its lowest level = .9 kilovolts

2- Remote training collar at low level = 1 kilovolt

3- Bark control collar at low level = 2 kilovolts

4- Nylon carpet at 50 relative humidity = 9 kilovolts

8- Abdominal energizer (ab stimulus machine) = 18 kilovolts

9- Cattle prod = 27 kilovolts

10- Defibrillator = 75 kilovolts

11- Stun gun = 625 kilovolts

With proper training and a good understanding of product use, these electronic training devices are very safe to use in achieving effective results and minimizing risk. However, incorrect use can put your pet at risk to some extent either physically or psychologically. Before using these training devices, pet owners should read ALL instruction manuals and education materials that are included with the product. Since every animal will react differently to correction, you should always begin training on the lowest setting and watch the dog closely to monitor its response. When used appropriately, electronic training devices are a safe and appropriate tool for most behavioral and containment issues that often frustrate pet owners.

Myth #2: Electronic collars can cause burns

This myth is not true or even possible. You cannot get burned by a static shock. Electronic training collars are still not as powerful as a static shock from carpeting on a dry day, even when set to their highest levels. Veterinarians often misdiagnose a condition called “Pressure Necrosis”, which is responsible for this burn rumor. Pressure Necrosis occurs when the electric dog fence collar, bark collar, or dog training collar is fit too tightly on the pet’s neck and/or left on too long. The continued pressure of the two metal probes on the dog’s neck, along with the dirt and oils around those probes will cause the skin to break down and die. The result is two marks at the point of the probe contact that look and smell like hot spots or sores, which are often mistaken for burns. To help prevent this problem the electronic training collar should be removed from the pet when not being used. You should also clean the dog’s neck with shampoo and the contact probes with alcohol at least once a week. Robert E. Schmidt, D.V.M., Ph.D. stresses that “prevention of Pressure Necrosis is the best treatment. If reddening of the skin is noted, the tightness of the collar should be evaluated.” He also urges pet owners to “check for proper fit and irritation on a daily basis.”

Myth #3: Electronic training collars are difficult to use and only professional trainers should use them

Keith Benson of Triple Crown Dog Training Academy (The largest canine training and behavior center in America) states that “With today’s advanced collars that is certainly not the case. Improved technology has made them much easier to use and understand.” He also said that “Almost any dog owner can understand the operation and use and will be able to communicate with his dog with 15 or 20 minutes of instruction. It is however important to understand how to use them before you put it on your dog. If you do not fully understand, then seek help from an experienced professional.”

Education is the answer! Before making an opinion about the use of electric dog fence systems, bark collars and dog training collars as training tools, it is important to educate yourself and find someone who has had a successful dog training experience with them. When you are training a pet, you need to have as much information as possible. As you select an electronic training collar, make sure you choose one that provides you with instruction manuals and/or videos. Owners, who use the equipment correctly and spend a significant amount of time working with their dog, will see an overall improvement in their pet’s behavior.