E-collar training: What is the verdict on collar wise?

Today I thought I would share a question from a fellow dog lover about e-collar training and the concept of a dog becoming collar wise. This is always an interesting topic and helps lead all of us to better training habits. My answer is below, but please share your thoughts as well.

Hello Robin.
I have a question about introducing the collar.
I watched your dvd and I know how to do it.

Now my question is about collarwise.
I asked an ecollar trainer here in Holland about collarwise and was advised to put the collar on the dog about 8 hours a day and not to use it. This I have to do for about 3 or 4 weeks and then introducing the collar.
What do you think about this. Is this necessary? I do not want a collar wise dog, because there will always be moments that the dog has not his collar around his neck.

What is your idea about collar wise?


I don’t believe it is necessary to put the collar on the dog for weeks and not use it. I have always started using the e-collar right away.

However, I understand why people worry about it and how it can happen if a person does not take measures to prevent it . I believe dog’s become enforcement wise. They quickly learn whether or not their owners will or can follow through. This is also why so many dog’s listen fine on leash but are mischievous or disobedient when the leash comes off.

So, IF you put the e-collar on your dog, go out and train and then take the e-collar off, your dog will certainly associate the e-collar with training.

This will become even more pronounced if you don’t follow through and remain consistent with your dog when he is not wearing the e-collar. I think that some people become dependent on their tools, whether they are using an e-collar, treats, a prong collar or any other tool, sometimes people get stuck in a box. They only follow through with the tool or technique they are comfortable with and thus when they are in a situation outside that comfort zone they don’t know what to do. They forget that the most important rule is to: never give a command they are not prepared to enforce.

We all know dog’s aren’t stupid and they can quickly link the association between a particular item and his owners ability to follow through. Thus the reason for collar wise, treat wise, ring wise, leash wise, etc.

However, I don’t think wearing the e-collar for a few weeks prior to using it will make any difference. There will still come a day when you press the button and you will begin training your dog with it. From then forward what your dog learns in regard to your ability to be consistent is up to you. You can either build a dependence or not. The same dependence could happen with the transmitter and have nothing to do with the e-collar receiver. It comes down to good or bad training habits.

My suggestion is to put the e-collar on and have your dog wear it daily whether training, playing, going for a walk, eating or sleeping, it naturally becomes part of his/her routine. You then have the ability to practice your expectations as needed throughout the day rather than just having “training sessions”. I believe this creates a more reliable dog. One who learns to listen to you as a way of life, rather than based on the situation or the tool.

Make certain your dog follows through regardless if he/she is wearing the e-collar or not. Be consistent with your dog. Vary the ways in which you keep your dog paying attention. You can use the e-collar, a leash, your body language or physically going to him and helping him comply.

I believe it is equally important to vary your forms of rewards. Treats, toys, verbal praise, play, petting. Don’t get stuck in any particular box.

e-collar training
Diva: Pink Boa Wise

Learning to train well is the key regardless of tool. Whether e-collar, treats or a leash people should be aware they can build a dependence if they don’t pay attention to good training principles.


  • “We all know dog’s aren’t stupid and they can quickly link the association between a particular item and his owners ability to follow through. Thus the reason for collar wise, treat wise, ring wise, leash wise, etc.”

    Follow through. That is the key. For me, the e-collar provides communication. The dog clearly understands what is being asked of him. Collar on or off, if I give a command and don’t follow through, I’m giving mixed messages. I know my own dogs, at least the youngest one, may once in a while hesitate momentarily when I call her. I don’t repeat the command, I move my body forward a bit. Immediately she comes. Wise dog.

    I like to make an e-collar a fun item. My personal dogs associate an e-collar with going somewhere fun. We don’t just work with the collar on, sometimes we just play. When I hear collar wise I hear ‘you better or else!’ I like the dog to think, wow, what are we going to do now?

  • I think the old idea of having a dog wear a collar or dummy collar for weeks prior to starting a dog’s training was based upon the human’s improper assumption as to how dogs think and learn. Whereas, if we had asked the dog, “would you notice something changed when e-collar training started despite wearing a dummy collar,” the dog would have replied, “well yeah, of course.”

    The way Robin trains, at a low level that is like a tap on the shoulder, and having the dog wear the collar throughout the day as part of the dog’s normal routine, the chance for becoming collar wise is very low because behaviors being reinforced repeatedly over time become long lasting habits.

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