Can remote training collars help dogs with anxiety issues?

Can electronic training collars be used to help a dog that has separation and anxiety issues?

The thought of using these type of training collars for behavior problems goes counter intuitive to what many may first believe.  But in actuality, the e-collar, or shock collar as some refer to it proves to be one the more humane and gentle solutions in helping dogs such as Willow, discussed below, regain a more normal and full lifestyle.

Bear in mind, I say that with the understanding that the user has knowledge of how to utilize these types of training collars in a motivational fashion rather than a punitive one.

Knowledge is one of the main keys to success in any dog behavioral rehabilitation case and if someone thinks the electronic collar is placed on the dog so you can “shock her” when she is “bad”…they are dead wrong. The e-collar is used at low levels (similar to a tap on the shoulder) to interrupt unwanted behavior and to redirect the dog’s focus to desired behavior. With repetition and consistency the dog quickly learns to extinguish many of the old behaviors that lead to increasing levels of anxiety (whining, pacing, barking, digging etc.)

It is not magic, but it works.

Does it work better than other types of training collars or methods?

I suspect that answer also lies with the user. However, I can tell you there are advantageous because the electronic pagers and collars of today are so adjustable that equal levels of finesse would be harder to achieve for the average pet owner like yourself. And one of the biggest advantageous is the techniques are quick and easily replicated. Sarah from Paws N Motion could do it, but more importantly she taught Willow’s owners to easily duplicate the training collars techniques which meant success for the training.

When we adopted Willow – we got a wonderful dog with some unknown history including separation anxiety issues. The first day we left her home during work, she escaped from her wire crate – twice.

We had signed up for a group puppy class, when after the initial class, Kim brought the issue of separation anxiety to the attention of the instructor as to gain more skills to help the situation. Instead of giving positive suggestions, she referred us to dog behaviorists and told Kim “don’t get too attached [to her dog].” That was the last class we attended.

Sarah came to help us teach us how to work with Willow to deal with the issues that had become apparent quickly after adopting her. Of course we needed to deal with the separation anxiety, but we also needed some help with obedience beyond sit. We chose to utilize the electronic collar. We felt the stimulation for ourselves before settling on this decision. Sarah taught us how to effectively teach Willow what the stimulation was reminding her to do with verbal commands and sometimes helping her to do the required command. Willow quickly caught on to what the stimulation was referring to.

Willow has gone beyond basic obedience and is noticeably calmer in all situations and she is frequently complimented in public on what a good dog she is. With Sarah’s help, we have made great improvement on the separation anxiety and Willow is no longer escaping from her crate. She is a great dog around the house and on walks, snowshoeing and on other adventures. She is off leash in our unfenced yard much of the time in the yard with us playing and bounding in the snow this winter.

Kim & Erik Laing, Eagan MN

Before you rule out tools or pass judgment on what is possible please make sure you thoroughly explore all the options. Kim and Erik seem pleased with what they have learned about remote training collars and how it helped Willow.


  • I have a bichon frise cross with shih tzu. She’s only 6 months old but she has major separation anxiety issues. We’re using the e-collar for her training and have been for the past 3 months, but it doesn’t seem to be working on her separation anxiety issue. Can you tell me how you managed to use the e-collar to help Willow with her anxiety? I’d love to know what you did to solve this issue. =

  • Teddy, my German Shepherd that I got when he was a year old, was paranoid of engine noises such as trucks and lawn mowers. He was a wonderful dog indoors where he felt comfortable, but walking downtown was very stressful… until I put an e-collar on him. When he appeared nervous I would use the low level setting and tap him a few times and it was almost like he said to himself.. “ok, self… suck it up.. this isn’t so bad”! I clearly recall one summer day sitting with a friend at a table outside a restaurant in downtown Appleton with Teddy lying calmly at my feet and thinking that without the collar, this wouldn’t be happening…

    • I just don’t see how you believe this is truly changing the behavior of the dog. If he won’t behave in a positive way without the collar, than you haven’t done anything except place him in a position where is constantly avoiding a negative stimulation. That’s not training.

      • Hello someone,
        How is this not training any more than using a clicker/treats/head halter/body wrap or any other tool. is “not training” in this situation? If the dog still needs the use of the tool in these situations to help him makes sense of the alternative desired behavior then the job of training isn’t done, it is still management, but he is still learning to “do something else” in this situation. It may not be a method of training that you believe in or advocate for and that is fine we are all entitled to our opinions.

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