How Do I Use a Shock Collar? The Difference Between Momentary and Continuous Stimulation.

My How Do I Use a Shock Collar video Frequently Leads to One Question…When Should I Use the Continuous Button?

Since the technique in the how to video focuses on a tap, tap, tapping cadence using the momentary button, first time e-collar users often have concerns that it might be “wrong” to use the continuous button or they wonder when it is appropriate. I’ve spoken to numerous professional trainers who tell me they prefer using the continuous button for the majority of their training needs. So I have to confess…so do I. But using the continuous button for teaching and training takes a tad more finesses and that is something that comes through practice and experience……which is why in an introductory dvd made for average pet owners I emphasized learning the technique via momentary stimulation. Momentary stimulation provides the dog a predetermined duration (therefore concise) of information.

Creating awareness of when to tap and when to stop tapping in conjunction with the dogs behavior and response is one of the three key concepts that must be learned in order to effectively shape and train behavior with a remote collar. Utilizing momentary stimulation with a beginning e-collar user means that each button push will provide only a 1/25th of a second pulse. So it is a very quick tap to gain attention whether the user removes their finger from the button or not. The stimulation stops with that one tap until the button is depressed again.

The continuous button, on the other hand, continues to pulse until the user removes his/her finger from the button (with a maximum of 8-12 seconds duration before an auto shut off depending on brand of remote collar) However one can use the C feature similarly to the momentary (with a tapping cadence rather than a push and hold) which provides a great deal of versatility in training.  Because our human timing is probably not as consistent in the early learning phase, sometimes tapping faster and sometimes tapping perhaps a bit drawn out, I feel it is easier for the dog’s learning if novice users start out on a button of predetermined duration. With less worry about our duration on the button I want people to focus on the most important concept of e-collar training; helping the dog understand what the sensation means.

So in answer to;

Is it wrong to use the Continuous button instead? No, just pay attention to your timing on the button. A tap vs a drag on the e-collar continuous button will feel differently to the dog.

Is there an advantage to using the Continuous button? Sometimes. Because the continuous button will give multiple pulses with each tap, it may be more attention getting for some dogs. It can serve well as a technique to tap continuous when nick isn’t gaining attention (rather than turning up the intensity dial).

Is there a good reason to drag on the Continuous button? Yes, sometimes it is the perfect way to draw a dog’s attention back when he/she is heavily focused on something else. For instance a dog who is heavily engaged in a scent can usually be brought back to focus with a drag of the continuous button. A 1 – 3 second drag seems to be the right timing to reconnect with the dog and pull his mind off of the odor. There are some advanced applications for working on precision and finesse as well, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.

Note that because the Continuous automatically gives multiple pulses with each tap, you may find that the stimulation level needed is lower than when you are working on the Nick setting.

If you have a remote collar that allows you to utilize Nick and Continuous stimulation without having to flip a toggle switch, you can become very adept at keeping a finger hoovered over both buttons and fluidly moving between the two options depending on your training goal at the moment.

Let me know if there are more questions. I love hearing from you!

Meanwhile, while you are researching how do I use a shock collar,  take a look at this short video for a bit more understanding of the differences between the momentary and continuous stimulation buttons on your e-collar.


  • Great article Robin! I tend to use nick for static exercises, and continuous for dynamic exercises. Either one has a certain requirement of finesse and timing. I find that timing on nick is weighted for when to turn it on, operating continuous is more about the release, when to turn out off. I bump either on a green dog, but generally follow the same model for static vs. dynamic. Love your site! Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Rob, appreciate the kind words! and thanks for sharing your explanations. There is so much diversity to the tool. As we help jqp understand all the variations, we are helping so many dogs have fuller lives. 🙂

  • Great explanation Robin! Like you said, there is less room for error in the way you start new folks off with the collar by using the nick. The sensation is so quick and later folks can move to using both options as their skills increase and new training applications would be beneficial from the continuous button.

  • Great post! I learned with a nick button to start when doing basic command training and then taught to use the continuous button much like you described. Looking back, it is a great approach but I wouldn’t have understood it in the beginning.

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