Dogtra E-Collar ARC Review : Love at First Site

The Dogtra E-Collar ARC: Advanced Receiver Concept (ARC) Review


The new Dogtra E-Collar Advanced Receiver Concept (ARC) arrived and it was as I had expected…sleek on the dog. It drew a hallelujah from me immediately. A package I’ve been waiting for finally made it into my hands today.

Take a look at the new e-collar on my boy, Tommy.

Dogtra ARC dog collar


The training community, particularly the pet training community, IMO, has been waiting for a streamline receiver for a very long time.

The Dogtra E-Collar ARC receiver is the biggest step in the direction of streamline and still affordable that we’ve seen, ever.

Now, I’m basing this preliminary opinion of the product mostly on appearance. If that makes me shallow, sorry but looks do matter. Anyone who tells you otherwise is denying a very real piece of the challenge in gaining acceptance of this tool in the broader marketplace.

I already know Dogtra Company’s ability to create durable, reliable products. And of course, as is my standard for testing, with receiver in hand, I took the rheostat up to see how smooth the transition is as you climb the stimulation range. Smooth is important and one thing I won’t compromise on with the dogs I work. The ARC did not let me down.

dogtra ARC

They also did well with the transmitter (TX). Very similar to the SureStim unit (my current personal favorite) with a few tweaks to the molding. It fits well in the palm which allows me to work the TX single handed. That means I can easily keep the other hand on the dog, the bumper, the treat pouch, the long line or whatever other pertinent piece of the training puzzle needs attending too. I like the ergonomics of slimline transmitters. Dogtra seems to recognize that women are comprising a larger and larger segment of the training market and having equipment that fits our needs as well makes good economic sense.

That is enough of a review for now…time to go train & play.

Let’s find out if this little gem is more than skin deep…

*Updated 1/29/16

This dog understands Tap = Attention!

Just wanted to share some photos from this weeks video shoot. One of our regular day care attendees, Sam got into the act while shooting some short clips for the  iQ Pet training collars.


If you think the idea of Tap = Attention doesn’t work then you need to have a conversation with this Golden Retriever!


photo 1

He nailed it by very effectively  interrupting our shooting numerous times.  When the director called “Action!” and we went to roll, he gave me the gentle paw nudge as soon as I started to speak. And it worked, I laughed, lost my line and we had to start again! He is most certainly, Tap literate!


Tap = stop that,this human needs to focus!

So, I pulled the tried and true move…hand on his collar to stop his interruption…but apparently couldn’t keep my eyes open and talk at the same time. 🙂

Tennis ball saves the day!

And finally we found the magic green orb. (note the tennis ball in director’s left hand) to solve the problem. Sam sat mesmerized for the total minute, we got the shot, he got his ball. 🙂




The words Shock Collar make me cringe

Yes, it is a true, those two words, Shock collar, don’t sit well with me. Not because I’m opposed to electronic collars, but because they further a perception that is inaccurate.

I recently gave a presentation for Scott Mueller and 16 of his students at Canine Workshops in Columbus, OH. Early in the day I directed students to this blog but made an apology for it’s title.


shock collar



The words “Shock collar” bother me too but the title of the blog was born out of necessity.


Until people are better informed on the versatility of electronic training collars it takes continual effort to educate about all the none painful ways they can be utilized. Remote training collars are what you make of them, they are no more shocking than a medical professionals TENs Unit. If you turn it up too high, they are certainly uncomfortable and can cause a significant startle response. Used appropriately the stimulation is at worse a mild aversive and at best a unique sensation that can be associated with any number of meanings.

That is what I set out to demonstrate to my fellow dog trainers during our time together. We talked about my belief that there are only 3 true levels on any of the remote collars on the market: too low (the sensation is undetected or does not gain the dogs attention) too high (the sensation startles or disrupts the dogs ability to learn) and Just Right (the sensation gains attention and enhances the dogs ability to learn).


The words “shock collar” apply when we are “too high”. That is a level we are encouraging people to avoid.


Instead of frustration with a dog’s behavior sending one running to the store to purchase a “shock collar” to punish a dog for doing “bad” we talked about the critical step of understanding HOW to TEACH the dog what attention getting sensation means. Teach the dog how to respond and have control of it. The feedback the dog gains is much like the child’s game of Hot and Cold and it is why the learning is so rapid when a remote collar is properly applied.

We talked about the use of rewards, proper timing, how body language influences, how to work in drive for more flashy performance.

I had a wonderful time. Thank you to Scott for hosting me and thank you to all who attended. I hope that the overall theme became apparent to everyone who was there. Our perception of the tool is what influences how we utilize it. I hope we choose wisely. Electronic training collars can be used to teach or it can be used as a “shock collar”

Ignorance about “shock collars” is not hard to demonstrate

I shot a bit of video today to respond to one of the most lame dog training video’s I’ve seen regarding “shock collars”. It was obvious from the moment I clicked on this video the trainer didn’t have a clue of what e-collar training was about.

How obvious? Well, if a person is trying to demonstrate a training technique and they use time lapsed video footage of their training a STUFFED ANIMAL, that pretty much sums up their actual level of expertise on the topic.

Yes, you actually did read that correctly. The supposed expert used a child’s stuffed toy to demonstrate how “shock collars” are used to teach a Place command.

So here is my video response and how I and many others do use an e-collar to teach the Place command.

I understand there are people who don’t support the idea of using e-collars for training a dog and I understand people having misconceptions about how the tool is used. However, it is shameful for someone who proclaims their site as a source of knowledge to consciously propagate ignorance by generating such a load of crap.

Here is the video I’m referring too if you want to waste your time and watch.

My advice for the average pet owners out there sifting through mountains of info looking for help…If a trainer can’t use a living, breathing dog to demonstrate their techniques they’ve got no business asserting to the public they actually know what the hell they are talking about, e-collar training or otherwise.

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

My How Do I Use a Shock Collar DVD 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.

Bad Girls, Bad Girls, Whatcha Gonna Do?

It is time for my Halloween post.I had so much fun dressing up last year, I knew I’d find a way to pull out another alter ego this season.

With that in mind, I decided we’d discuss if the use of aversives are necessary when training a dog. I know it is a topic that causes much debate amongst trainers. It is kind of like politics with the topic getting heated and people tending to gravitate to one side or the other…

That is the question that I was mulling over on a recent drive to teach an advanced remote collar workshop in Indiana. It is probably more accurate to say I was stewing on that question because I just cannot seem to wrap my head around the entrenched philosophy that some trainers have. That all dog training can be successfully accomplished through 2 quadrants of learning theory. Those being +Reinforcement and -Punishment. What that means to you dog owners is: You give the dog something to reward (reinforce) when he does what you ask and you withhold those rewards if he does not do as you ask. So a cookie if you come to me, no cookie if you don’t. The purists among clicker trainers will tell you; “The cue is an opportunity for reinforcement for the dog. If the dog does not do the behavior then simply withhold the reward.” I’ve also heard it explained that their is a significant difference between a  cue, (which they use) and a command, (which others use – “others” being labeled as “force and intimidation” trainers).

The lingo applied is meant to paint pictures of “who” is the kinder, gentler trainer. What I take away from the discussion is: with a cue the dog is not required to follow through. As an example, if we are teaching a recall and the dog comes to me when called I reward him. If not, then I ignore his lack of response. The dog gets to choose if he wants to earn “an opportunity for reinforcement or not” No other consequence is applied at least via the belief of those who follow this training theory.

I guess my question to a trainer who was proposing this idea to me would be; if my dog doesn’t have to listen when I tell him/her something than what I am paying you to help me achieve and how long until I can expect some level of reliability in response in my typical daily routine with my dog?

In theory I  do get it. I get it from the stand point of working with animals in containment (marine mammals, zoos etc) which is where the techniques were heavily developed and refined. If there is so little other option (such is the case in a pool full of water and nothing else) It limits any real choice that the animal has in the matter. You get the toy/food through your cooperation OR you get solitary existence (no contact, no mental stimulation, etc) We simply ignore you and you will come around to our way of thinking because that is how you get to eat and gain any attention.

On a side note…Isn’t solitary confinement considered one of the higher levels of penalty in our judicial system?

This is the theory of ALL Positive training. Ignore what you do not want, reward what you do. And it does work. But, what it requires is extensive management of environment. Which again, is relatively easy with animals in captivity. I realize our dogs are “in captivity” so to speak. We own them and can control their access to things..but how tightly are you willing to monitor that? And do you truly want your dog to live a life of highly managed access to…well, to the world around them?

I know that I personally do not micro manage my dog that way. I want to live my interpretation of a “normal” life with my dogs. That means I want to leave them un-crated when I leave the house. I want to un-hook their leashes and let them turn and burn at the park, I want to have friends visit my house without expecting my friends to have to “ignore the dog, don’t look at the dog, don’t touch the dog”…in short I want to spend some time teaching my dog what my expectations are and then. Only then, AFTER a period of teaching….I actually want my dogs to have some responsibility in the matter. I want my dogs to make choices that ultimately allow them to be fully integrated in my life without my continual micro-management of them and the humans and other dogs around them. Giving the dogs an opportunity to make a real choice, IMO, means they are going to be exposed to consequences other than “I will ignore your lack of response.”

So back to my drive… did I get to all this spinning in my brain?

and how does it tie into dog training, aversives and the use of remote collars?

October 5th, 10 am…..I’m heading down Interstate 39 through Illinois, jamming to Foo Fighters when I glance at my odometer and see I’m pushing 90 mph. So I ease up on the accelerator, glance in my rear view hoping not to see those red flashing lights (again) and when the reading drops back to 75 mph I set my cruise control.

I’ve confessed to you before.

I AM a speed junkie. Yes. I am.

I LOVE to go fast. Once I grew beyond 5 foot tall I knew my dreams of being a jockey were over…but by then I’d learned about cars.

Maybe it was early imprinting, I’m 8 years younger than my brother so when he got his DL, I was just a tyke. He often was charged with watching his little sisters so that meant we got taken along on many of his excursions. (I’m sure he was thrilled) But for me…sitting in the passenger seat, flying the back roads of Wisconsin…I was grinning ear to ear. And when he turned 21 and started driving in the local stock car circuit…well that was a pre-teenage girls dream. Hanging with the cool boys!

I’m not ashamed to say I encouraged one of my early dates to bury the needle from the back of his motorcycle. Watching it tick past 120 mph was awesome!!

The down side is this deep urge comes with a price tag. A rather costly one and as years went on and insurance went higher….well, I’ve learned to monitor my behavior.

That is what I was thinking about on my drive down I39.

I asked myself: What if those red flashing lights were to pull me over frequently and often when I was observing the speed limit and they would reward my cooperation with $50.00 would that increase my desire to drive by the rules?

My immediate response was No Way.

If someone told me going the speed limit was an opportunity for $50.00 reinforcement but my speeding would be ignored I can tell you with absolute certainty I’d be in the left lane flying by you with a big ole’ grin on my face.

If they upped the positive motivation to $10,000.00 per good behavior. I suspect I would take them up on it for a while. At least until I earned enough for this baby.

But then, as Dog is my witness I AM putting the pedal to the metal. There simply would be a tipping point where the reward was not as powerful as my urge to go fast.

You see it is quite simple. Some undesirable behavior is never going to go away by ignoring it. The behavior itself is too reinforcing in and of itself. No amount of reinforcing an alternative behavior is going to stop my speeding. The only thing that has held me in check is having some consequence for my actions.

And those consequences DO NOT make me afraid to drive, nor do they make me dislike law enforcement. They simply have made me aware of monitoring my own behavior. They demonstrated to me real choice between the consequence of losing my license or being able to continue to drive.

This is what I came to on my journey. The idea that ALL positive works for everything, all situations….well, it’s a bunch of malarky. There is absolutely nothing in the natural world that works that way.

Please don’t misinterpret that I am diminishing the need for rewards and reinforcement in training…but the thinking that aversives aren’t needed is truly laughable. Those same people that argue this point will also try to convince you that head halters, front-clip harnesses and body wraps don’t work with aversive principles…somehow those are magically “all positive” too at least in the world of rainbows and unicorns!


I’m off for a drive…can you hear the AC/DC blaring??

dog shock collar


* special thank you’s to Mike Keating set design and photography, Jessica Bowlng & Capri College makeup, Maddie MacFarlane Dog training and Tommy, my heart dog & one of the worlds coolest Malinois. 🙂

Stress in Dog Training

Stress in dog training, is it necessary or not?

Stress in dog training was a topic touched on in one of our conversations on this Facebook page about the Banning of Training Tools .

One of the participants there, Mike, had a few words to say so I invited him to share them here on my site.

My personal thought is there is a significant difference between stress and distress, and this is what we must be conscience of in our training. It is my opinion that short term stresses designed to increase our coping abilities are a good thing. I believe that is the case for us and for our dogs.

What are your thoughts on stress in the paradigm of dog training?

Guest post:

Stress is something we all live with on a daily basis. Though is stress always such a bad thing? Ask yourself, when you hear the word stress what do you think of? For most the thought of high blood pressure, or ripping your hair out in frustration quickly comes to mind.

In the same way when one hears the word electricity we are often preconditioned to think of it in a negative context. I know I did when first hearing about remote collars, having been curious enough (or stupid perhaps) to stick a fork in a socket!

So we are left with the questions, can negatives have an upside? Is stress always such a bad thing?

Is stress always bad for mans best friend?

I believe in small doses it is not. It can even be beneficial. Many people work better under stress, and I am one of them. The same applies to dogs. On a daily basis we ask our canine companions to endure various stressful situations. Such as moving, bringing them into loud and busy environments, blasting our favorite songs, and the list goes on. So why is it that if stress happens in the name of training we are so quick to call it cruel? I understand that if taken to extreme it can cause psychological damage, but there is a happy medium. I believe it is important to teach our dogs how to deal with stress and how to respond in stressful situations.

Many positive trainers would have you believe that any compulsion used in training is too stressful, equates to abusive, and is morally reprehensible. There is a prevailing belief that all the answers to our training problems lie with cookies and praise of behaviors that are desired and ignoring behaviors that are unwanted.

This may be an extreme example, but imagine I walk up to a person with a fear of bats (the flying kind), holding a great big bat in a locked room and I am going to throw chocolate chip cookies at them while I do it! Is that really going to make them feel any better or make their stress go away? Of course not, they would need to be desensitized, and conditioned to act calm in such a situation.

The same is true when working with a dog that has anxiety, or aggression issues, avoiding stress is not only impossible, it is also counter productive. We can do our best to minimize it, but some is required to help the animal overcome such behaviors and be able to cope in our world.

Stress subsides when a dog (or anyone for that matter) begins to understand what is being asked of him/her, and what he/she should be doing. This is why I personally believe a leash correction is less stressful to a dog then negative punishment (which in simple terms is the removal of a treat as a punishment). A leash correction is a clear way of communicating to a dog they did something wrong. In the same way that a clicker is an auditory marker for a correct action, a correction is a physical cue to tell the dog they did something wrong, and does not need to hurt to work (in the same way a clicker works, but does not hurt).

Ask yourself, when are you more stressed? In a situation where you have black and white instructions on what to do, or in a situation with limited information when you are unsure of what to do?

The use of punishment techniques in dog training have become a controversial issue in recent years. Long standing training tools such as the prong collar, or remote collar are being labeled as barbaric. Though when rational thought prevails, it is easy to understand abuse does not stem from a tool, but from the one using it.

Take a knife for example. It is dangerous or not? I believe it depends on who is holding it and what the intent is. It could be used as a weapon or to carve the next Venus de Milo

It is the same with any dog training collar. Using a tool judicously to aid a dog’s understanding of what to do or what not to do may add some stress to the learning process, but once the learning has occurred there is no longer stress. There is comprehension and with that comes increased confidence and decreased stress over all.

remote collar training
Mike & friend.


What Do Electronic Dog Collars Feel Like?

 Electronic Dog Collars: “Will it hurt my dog?”

The question of what do the electronic dog collars feel like comes up a lot. Or at least speculation about it comes up a lot! I’ve heard people make statements, usually negative ones, about what they imagine the collar to be and how it feels. Then those statements are typically followed with emotional assertions that they would “never use one on my dog!” So I’d like to share a true story from today. If you have a negative idea of what an electronic dog collar feels like, I hope you’ll ponder this.

shock collar
Ms. D’s first day back in the water 2012

I took my dog Diva swimming today. I didn’t really plan on it, we just headed to the park for a walk and a couple tosses of the frisbee. But when she saw the ice was no longer on the water….she wanted in!

It is March 15th in Iowa and the weather we are having this week is record breaking, in the 70’s actually. It is crazy, just less than 2 weeks ago the pond was iced over. That means the water is not a whole heck of a lot above 32 degrees Fahrenheit right now.

and my dog wanted to swim.

and swim and “toss the floppy disk again mom”….

That temperature water would of put me in the hospital (if I had survived it) but she didn’t seem to mind. When I finally said “Let’s go”, she got out, shook herself off and trotted down the trail with a contented look on her face.

Now what has this story got to do with how electronic dog collars feel? Well, it just got me thinking…How logical is the oft heard comparison some people make that if they find a particular level on an e-collar “painful” then it is of course also painful to a dog?

Since when do we perceive things the same way as our dogs do? For that matter, when do we perceive things the same as all other humans? I, for one, am not a big fan of Rap or Heavy Metal music…doesn’t mean that others don’t find it relaxing and enjoyable.

There are those who can not fathom the possibility that a Just Right level of stimulation is nothing more than a tap on the shoulder for the recipient dog.

Which is fine. Those folks can continue existing in that paradigm.

But, if someone is going to live by the credo “how it is to me, is how it is to my dog”…well, then I suggest they sample a mouthful of cow patty and explain that “this tastes bad Fluffy” to the dog who is grinning from ear to ear with it.

Or please explain to Diva the water was utterly unbearable today. 😉

What Do You Think of Remote Collar Training for Dogs?

E Collars for Dogs?

If you are looking for an opinion about remote training collars for dogs, ask someone who is using the tool what their thoughts are.

At least that is what we believe here at The Truth About Shock Collars…generally if you want a referral or opinion about something it makes sense to ask someone with first hand knowledge of the service or product, wouldn’t you agree?

What you will probably find out rather quickly is that actual users know that remote training collars don’t need to be shocking at all in order to work effectively.

Well, don’t just take our word for, watch the video and see what others have to say: Continue reading “What Do You Think of Remote Collar Training for Dogs?”

Remote Collar Training; Teaching your Dog to Come When Called, The Easy Way

remote collar training a dog to come when called

Remote collar training is the absolutely the easiest and fastest way to teach your dog a recall.

And the single most important skill you should teach your dog is to come when called.

A reliable recall (one that hold up even with distractions like squirrels, other dogs, children and bicycles) gives you peace of mind that your dog is safe AND gives your dog the ultimate delight that comes with the joy of being able to run free.

Lots of dog professionals will tell you it takes months or even years to achieve such training. They may even tell you certain breeds can never be trusted off leash.

Those people don’t know how to use a remote collar properly. Continue reading “Remote Collar Training; Teaching your Dog to Come When Called, The Easy Way”