What Is an E-Collar?

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May 17, 2023
5 min read
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An electronic collar (e-collar) is a type of dog collar used for behavioral dog training and it works by delivering a mild sensation to your dog.  If you’ve found your way to this page, you might be in a situation where you are considering training methods for your dog – an e-collar yields great results!   

The word “shock” is often used to describe an e-collar and that can be off-putting to hear. E-collars and shock collars are not the same. In reality, the sensation from an e-collar is no more than what humans feel when we shock our finger or we find ourselves saying, You shocked me! As a matter of fact, the sensation is more wave-like with a pulsating feel.  

Here at Minnesota Canine Consulting, we believe that education and consistency empower dog lovers to instill self-control and mild temperaments in their canines. 

Keep reading to learn more about proper e-collar training methods, the benefits you can expect from e-collars, and why e-collars are a safe and effective dog training choice

What is the proper way to train using an e-collar?

Learning how to use an e-collar is pivotal to the success of this dog training method. When done with care and consideration, the use of an e-collar can lead to dogs who are more independent and confident animals. 

E-collars (aka remote training collars) are designed with a spectrum of settings so the physical sensation the dog feels is just enough to grab their attention and focus it toward a behavioral redirect. They come with different signaling methods such as tone, vibration, or mild stimulation. 

What you will see below is a list of five effective practices that successful dog lovers follow when using an e-collar.

Practice #1- Basics First

Before using an e-collar, we advise you to make sure your dog already knows basic commands such as sit, stay, come, heel, etc. Once your dog understands these basic commands, it’s clear that your dog is ready for e-collar training. 

Training begins with you using the e-collar in conjunction with your verbal commands. Hit the button as you speak a command. The more you do this, the more the dog will associate the collar with commands. 

Practice #2- Positive Reinforcement

These devices are meant to be used in combination with the ideas of positive reinforcement. Therefore, the use of e-collars should be immediately paired with something the dog desires: treats, praise, or another thing that gets the tail wagging! 

For example, adding praise like “good boy/girl!” will help your dog associate the comforting sound of your voice with their choice to behave in the desired way.  When paired with something they love, the dog will also begin to associate the stimulator signal with a pleasurable situation. 

Important to note is that e-collars are not meant to be used as punishment. Rather, they are used as a communication tool to teach dogs how to best behave. 

Practice #3- Gradual Use & Appropriate Settings

Just like most training techniques, it’s best to start slow in your e-collar training. It might seem intuitive to start on a high setting and work your way down, but that’s not necessarily true. Instead, our suggested practice is to begin your e-collar training by using a low to medium setting. 

Keep in mind that all dogs are not created equal! Just like humans, canines have different thresholds – the same setting might feel different when used with two different dogs. 

With that being said, you have to believe that these devices are meant to be used as a safe communication tool. Case in point, take a particular e-collar device that has 100 levels – humans can feel the sensation on their faces at level 11 & when upped to level 20, we can feel it on our wrists. While thinking about those numbers, also understand it’s common to train dogs between levels 4 and 7. 

One of your first jobs when using an e-collar is to find the “sweet-spot” setting that works best for your four-legged friend. Trust yourself and listen to your dog! You know them best so use that to your advantage!

Practice #4- Practice & Consistency 

E-collars are highly effective – they’re not magic, though. You cannot expect an e-collar to work overnight. Instead, you must commit to repeated practice with the e-collar and be consistent with your practice. 

Over time your dog will begin to understand your communication practices. The more predictable and consistent you can be, the easier it will be for your dog to normally display desired behaviors. 

Remember that dogs want to make you happy. Your pooch wants to behave in the way you want them to behave. What better way to treat your dog than to give them the tools to do this?! E-collars are a win-win situation: you become a happy owner of a happy, well-behaved dog!

Practice #5- Responsible Use  

Just like humans, dogs have their limits. Part of being a responsible owner is knowing your own dog’s limits. Commit to a balanced use of the e-collar – it’s not something we suggest using all day, every day. Don’t overdo it!

Instead, after your dog repeatedly delivers desired behaviors, quit while you’re ahead! End on a high note and then take a break. Play with the dog, have fun, and keep things light! Resume training the next day. 

A general rule to follow is that when you normally put your dog on a leash, you should commit to e-collar training. For example, if you leash your dog to go on a walk, get in the habit of using the e-collar then. With the addition of an e-collar that is responsibly used, dogs will feel more comfortable and confident when distractions occur – like other dogs, tempting squirrels, passersbyers, etc. 

Top 5 Advantages of E-Collars for Dogs

Once you begin consistently using an e-collar and do so with the above five practices in mind, you will soon start to understand the many benefits of using an e-collar as a dog training method. 

Below is a Top 5 list of e-collar advantages for dogs:

  1. E-collars are great options for dogs that don’t respond to other training methods.
  2. E-collars can be used to remind your dog of calm behaviors when they find themselves in distracting or stressful situations. They keep your dog focused.
  3. E-collars are versatile training tools because they can be used on AND off-leash. They also come with a variety of settings that you can manipulate to best serve your dog. 
  4. E-collars follow the rule time is of the essence because you can provide immediate feedback to your dog in response to their behavior choices. 
  5. E-collars give your dog the gift of living a happier, more balanced life.

Are E-Collars Safe for Dogs?

The short answer: yes! 

Since you are reading this, you care about how your dog is treated. And at Minnesota Canine Consulting, we deeply respect that you are concerned about your dog’s care! We appreciate you taking the time to ensure that e-collars are both safe and effective.

Indeed, e-collars are safe for dogs. We know about the misinformed myth that e-collars are harmful to dogs and that they are a form of torture. Please hear us when we say e-collars are safe when used properly. Take the time to understand some points:

  • E-collars do not burn dogs. The energy output from e-collars is drastically less than the energy output used in human medical devices and they do not burn humans.
  • E-collars do not cause lesions or sores on dogs. Humans who both inappropriately fit and misuse their dog’s e-collar are the cause of those avoidable injuries. Lesions and sores are not a by-product of a properly fitted e-collar that is used by a caring and educated owner.
  • E-collars do not cause any type of tissue breakdown. An e-collar that is continuously misused for an extended period of time will obviously lead to preventable amounts of friction and rubbing. Have you ever worn a piece of ill-fitting jewelry that gnaws at your skin? It’s a similar situation to that of an ill-fitting e-collar. As the care provider, educate yourself on proper e-collar fitting to easily avoid any breakdown.

When the e-collar is used with intention and care, the only results you should expect are that of a well-mannered, loving dog! Here are some easy ways to make sure your dog gets the utmost care while training with an e-collar:


Every time you use the e-collar, check and double-check the way it’s fitted to your dog. A proper fit means that the collar does not move when your dog lowers or raises its head. You also want the e-collar to fit so that it doesn’t rotate around your dog’s neck. 

If training your dog for an extended period of time (we recommend no more than 10 hours), be sure to rotate the position of the receiver box so it’s not always in the same spot on your dog’s neck.

Dog Coat

Make sure your dog’s skin is in good condition and that the fit avoids any friction. Regularly brushing your dog will prevent any build-up from loose, dead hair. And who doesn’t want a dog with a shiny coat?!


When using your e-collar in an environment with water – yes, e-collars are safe in water! – promptly remove the e-collar when your dog is back to dry land. This will give your dog’s skin time to dry off in time for the next training session.

Conclusion - What is an E-Collar?

At this point, our goal is that you understand how beneficial and safe e-collars are. When e-collars are activated by owners who respect the process and follow our guidelines for use, dogs learn in a healthy way how to be self-controlled and independent. 

E-collars improve the relationship you have with your dog and they come with many other advantages! If you have a furry friend who could benefit from some training, opt for an e-collar as your training tool to encourage proper behavior. 

Reach out to Minnesota Canine Consulting today to get answers and insight from our passionate and highly educated dog training professionals!  


How do I know what kind of e-collar to use?

To pick the best e-collar, you need to keep a couple of things in mind like the size of your dog, your training goals, your desired stimulator type (tone, vibration, or pulse), and your connection range needs. Rest assured that e-collars come in many varieties so you will be able to find the right fit for your dog!

Do e-collars hurt my dog?

If you’ve ever been exposed to a stimulator treatment at your chiropractor, you can compare that experience to what dogs with an e-collar experience. A shock collar is a thing of the past and we are not fans of the harsh settings. An e-collar is not the same thing as a shock collar. 

How do e-collars work?

E-collars are electronic dog training aids. E-collars have a small electronic receiver attached to them. The collar must be properly fitted to your dog’s neck. The owner then uses a remote that speaks to the receiver attached to the collar. Upon the owner pressing the remote, the collar’s response system is activated and a tone, vibration, or pulsating physical signal will be given to your dog. When used consistently, dogs will learn the difference between good and bad behavior.

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