Remote Collar Dog Training Techniques

Remote Collar Dog Training Techniques: Toys and Tricks

Learning some basic remote collar dog training techniques will teach you that your dog can have fun while learning commands and discipline.

I bet that feels like a pretty big deal, especially if you’ve tuned into much of the propaganda that is out there about “shock collars” also known as remote collars. I’m sure it sounds like “rubbish” as Victoria Stillwell might say. (Victoria the actress that portrays a dog trainer on the television show, It’s Me or the Dog.

But the truth is, it’s not a big deal if you know some basic remote collar dog training techniques whether you’re focusing on training techniques to include toys and or tricks.

Knowing what you are doing means understanding that the sensation is just that, a sensation and it can be conditioned to mean whatever the trainer decides they want it to mean.

The e-collar stimulation can be “too high” and that might mean whoa, stop that right now, get away from there or any other reason to create an avoidance response in your dog. I’d say that sort of use is generally when people refer to the tool as a shock collar. Or the e-collar stimulation can be “too low” and you can push the button till you’re blue in the face and the dog won’t seemingly mind or even notice. Or the e-collar stimulation can be “just right” and you can use it to prompt your dog’s attention into a behavior you would like.

It is up to the person holding the tool’s transmitter to decide if it’s a shock collar or a remote training collar.

I prefer using a remote training collar and it’s what I’ve taught my staff and what many other professional trainers around the world are also doing. (click here if you want to find help in your area)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so perhaps a video is worth even more. Here you go, you can decide.

This is typical toy dog training protocol at our place, you decide if it looks this little one is having fun or not?

*Updated 1/11/16

Here they come!

One of the many reasons I like training with an electronic dog collar is because I believe it is a quicker path to off leash freedom for a dog.

Rather than using the tool as a “shock collar” and punishing a dog for none compliance, myself and many other professional dog trainers world-wide are using  e-collar stimulation as a prompt to gain a dogs attention in the midst of distractions. Once the tap on the shoulder gets the dogs attention we can then easily encourage and reward the positive behaviors we want, like coming when called.

Once a dog will reliably come when called they have tremendous new found freedom to run and enjoy many wonderful experiences. The electronic dog collar allows us to get to that point pretty quickly.

I shot a small video clip when working with two of our e-collar training dogs the other day. Both are relatively young pups and they loved playing with one another so we decided it was a perfect opportunity to practice their recalls when distracted.

Take a look. This was day 3 of training for the smaller white pup and week two of training for the bigger guy. We were using the electronic dog collar on both dogs, but I bet you can’t tell. There is no yelping, no fear, no pain…none of all those nonsense things you hear uneducated trainers warn you about. What you do see is happy dogs learning to stop their actions and respond when asked and the reward they earn for that is a bit of loving and then the freedom to go play again.

Teaching a dog to come when called when it is distracted really is the whole point as far as I’m concerned. That is what my version of electronic dog collar training is all about. I have a bit of  an issue with the idea of people thinking it is a recall when you ask a dog to sit/stay, walk 20 feet away and then call it to you in a fairly quiet and contained environment. That is what is taught in the majority of dog training classes and it is considered success. But seriously, how many of you pet owners actually find value in that? When is the last time you had a difficult time calling your dog to you when he was sitting in the house with nothing better going on?

Training should be about being able to call your dog when he’d rather dart across the street to see the neighbor kids, or when she would rather get the squirrel that is playing on the other end of the park. Or how about simply being able to call your dog when it is time to leave the dog park? How nice is it to call the dog to you rather than always having to have to go get the dog? Of course you can work your way to the “advanced” classes…just expect it to take months or perhaps years. That is the reality that very few are willing to tell you about when they take your money and sign you up for the next 6 week class session.

The goal we have at That’s My Dog! is to get you some real life results in a few weeks and it is what more and more people are seeking out when they inquire about training with an electronic dog collar.


Proper Fit of a Remote Dog Training Collar | Robin MacFarlane

Rule #1: Proper Fit of a Remote Dog Training Collar Is Essential

Proper fit of a remote dog training collar is one of the most over looked reasons for poor results. Viewers write and tell me the e-collar “didn’t seem to work” or it didn’t seem like it was working so they kept turning the level up and then the dog startled. When I’ve had opportunity to witness these problems in person I generally find that the e-collar is just not fitted properly and thus the dog is not feeling the sensation consistently

So I decided to make a little video tutorial to help paint a clear picture of what a well fitted remote dog training collar looks like.

Why is proper fit of a remote dog training collar so important?

Simply put, if the contact points are not touching the dog’s skin the remote collar will not work. Skin contact is what completes the circuit to allow the e-stim to move across the skin surface from one point to the other. (Note: the stimulation only emits from ONE contact point, not both)

Remember that good fit happens through 3 key ingredients.

1. Properly sized contact points.  Length and thickness of the dog’s coat affect how the e-collar will fit. Dog’s with heavy or long coats (German Shepherd Dogs, Malamutes, Akita etc.) need longer points placed on the remote collar. Most manufacturers create collars that have interchangeable contact points. Length of the contact points can range from 1/2 inch to 1 inch, with varying sizes in between. There is also an adaptation called a contact pad that works well for dogs who are sensitive to long days wearing the e-collar particularly those with very short, white coats on the underside of the neck or those dogs whose neck is small in diameter and don’t fit as well in the standard contact point set up.

2. Snug fit.  In general, people tend to keep most collars too loose on their dog. I’ve often seen basic flat buckle collars that slip over the dogs head as soon as the dog backs up or applies a bit of pressure. A loose fit with a remote dog training collar means that there is inconsistent contact which will lead to inconsistent results.

3. A clean and well brushed coat. Dead hair, matted fur, dirt and debris can all build up and create a mess under any collar. It is important to brush and inspect your dog’s coat on a daily basis. Regardless of length of hair, your dog will benefit from a few minutes of grooming attention each day.

If you are having problems start at square one and check to see if it is fitted properly. For more info on training check out my recent interview about using a remote dog training collar.


Q&A about Remote collar dog training.

Questions & Answers: Remote Collar Dog Training

Recently I had a chat with Ty Brown of Dog Behavior Online about e-collar training.

We discussed some of the basic training concepts as well as some of the commonly held misconceptions such as; can e-collars be used with anxious dogs? Are they ok to use in the case of aggression issues. Are they really humane and how do they feel?

What does it mean to use the Just Right level? I remember what it feels like to touch an electric fence, is that what a remote collar feels like? These are some of the many questions that Ty asked me.

Want to know my thoughts on it all?

Click to hear the:  E-collar interview

Remote collar dog training

Hero listens in…

Professional E-collar dog training: 72 hours to change a dog’s life.

This past week I’ve been busy teaching our 10 day professional dog trainers course, the TMD E-cademy. We are a week into it and I wanted to share a few reflections.

We started the week with 6 students and a variety of dogs to work with. Most of the students brought either their own dog or a clients dog, plus we had several of our training dogs in residence to work with. On day one none of the dogs were e-collar literate. They had little obedience,  no off leash reliability and a couple were highly reactive to other dogs and people.

A week into it and we’ve been on outings to the park, in group classes with 15 plus other dogs and teaching these dogs how to co-exist peacefully in the world around them. We start out with e-collar conditioning exercises in a fairly non-distracting environment teaching the basics of moving toward handler, away from handler and holding stationary. After the dogs are showing comprehension of those concepts we begin to increase the distractions present and move on to generalizing the behavior in a variety of environments. The speed of progress impresses everyone.

I’ve always told people to give it 72 hours of real effort and commitment and you’ll see a change in the dog and it holds true time and time again. That is not to say that all problems are eliminated or fixed with the e-collar training but it does mean you will see that what we are doing works and we’re moving in the right direction. A direction of having more control, less stress and a more balanced and happy dog.

Here are a few pictures I snapped at our Saturday outing to the park.


As for the human students; they tell me they are learning a lot and impressed with the versatility of this tool. I can tell that is true. The immense progress they are having with the dogs says it all!

A happy owner has a whole new dog with e-collar training (and a whole new perspective!)

When someone is delighted with the results of their e-collar training they can’t help but share their enthusiasm. The following is an e-mail sent to Eileen Balcom – Vetillo of A Whole New Dog in Earlville, IL. Eileen has been coaching Anna and her two dogs through a series of dog training lessons using a remote collar as one of the tools to improve communication and reliability.

I asked permission to share the note here because I believe reading the words from fellow dog owners rather than just dog trainers or behaviorists gives you a clear perspective on the outcome and value of e-collar training when it’s done right. I did take the liberty of highlighting a few of the sentences because it is important to point out things that help put to bed some of the myths and misconceptions that abound remote collars. These dogs are happy, their owner is happy and they have freedom they didn’t have before.

I know you have read these type testimonials before but I am going to continue to share them until this tool is seen for what it is, just a tool. One that can be used properly and without doing harm to the dog. One that can change a persons relationship with their dog for the better because it provides security without sacrificing freedom. Until the hysteria and over-reactions like trying to ban this tool go away….these words need to be seen.

Good job Eileen for coaching well done and good job Anna for putting in the time to do it right!

I have been walking Duke and Gracie and it has been just lovely…so nice…
I started taking them down by the dam here in Lake Holiday as there is a pretty open space there.
They can walk down by the water and it’s just something different. We still do our walk from pier back to house with leashes dropped in the AM.
What a feeling.. I still can’t get over it!

I can let them loose on leash and they play ball there , they run around, chase each other…I keep practicing the “let’s go” with them still And it is amazing….they come to me and life is good…They look so happy, which in turn makes me happy. I find myself smiling while we are walking.
People have commented on how nicely they are walking and when we come up other dogs, the other dogs look so out of control. Pulling and jerking the owners. Duke & Gracie wouldn’t pull and jerk me but I didn’t have them in control before.. I FEEL I do now..and that is more than half the battle.
They ask me what the ‘secret’ is… I tell them it’s “Eileen” J..I explain about the eCollar and the beauty of it..and then I do like you would.. I ask them..”Do my dogs look unhappy” when they give me a look about them not wanting to ‘shock’ their dogs…? I then ask “ so you’d rather pick them up off the street after they get hit by a car – God forbid – or run off and your heart is broken??” Then I say again “ do my dogs look unhappy or afraid?” I said to them you are probably doing more harm to your dog by jerking their neck back and forth than anything I am doing.
One guy I gave him a mini demo…I walked with Gracie – Duke was just laying down on side of road…sniffing grass….NOW that is calm,submissive..and guy’s dog is hopping all over..
So I walked with Gracie and did the turn around thing – 1st thing you showed me – “let’s go” and she turned and I said again “ does she look scared or hurt?” Of course I loved her up . I think he was impressed.
So I continue to spread the word…I had so much fun with them at the dam..we were all running and chasing the ball..I swear they were smiling!
Duke is really good with not even having to ‘stim’ him…I can say “Duke – come or let’s go” and his own portly self is coming my direction. Even in the yard other day when he was in hot pursuit of a squirrel.. this squirrel ended up falling off the telephone line and into neighbors yard but Duke came back …otherwise it would have been me, Duke and knocked out squirrel episode!
Update with dogs at the fence…Lexie the puppy and Gracie run/up down but I can see it is play and Gracie does come back when called…sometimes it takes a few times but much,much better
And we continue to work on place boards…even Wyatt – little boy next door, whenever he seem someone coming to the door,like UPS or mail lady – I hear him saying – the dogs are in training patient…so cute. Duke loves the place board for his naps.. I got the square one,it is bigger and hold both of them, even Bert from time to time – the 3 of them

Jim even does place board and find that it is a good thing. Let me know about the ‘walk’ if it comes together.
So wanted to share the news and keep in touch…take care
Anna and the gang in Lake Holiday

What do you think about remote dog training collars?


The main reason I started The Truth About Shock Collars blog was to share information with potential remote collar users. I want to provide insight that I have gained, share experiences from other trainers and most importantly share experience and opinions from other pet owners who decided to go the route of training with a remote dog training collar.

Because the big picture goal is to rid ourselves of the term and idea of a pain inducing “shock collar” and help people understand that an electronic collar should be used with finesse as a communication device.

The thing about blogging is…most of the words are my own and repeatedly hearing just my voice on the matter gets tiresome so I’ve asked numerous friends who are also professional dog trainers to distribute a simple questioner to their clients so we can gather more feedback on what other dog owners think about the “shock collar”.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be posting responses to those questions and expanding on some of the ideas presented. I hope you’ll join in the conversations. If you’re interested in filling out the questioner just provide me an e-mail address and I’ll be happy to send one your way.

In the meantime, here is one response I’d like to share.

Q: In one sentence please describe how you felt about remote collars BEFORE you started training with them.

A: The only people that use them are police dogs and hunters dogs, it was too harsh of training for what we were asking for our dogs.

The next question on the form is:

Q. In one sentence describe how you feel about remote collars NOW.
If you are curious about the answer…stay tuned. 🙂

*Request this 10 question survey by e-mailing

Flyswatters and Shock Collars: A Question of Effective Dog Training Methods?

Effective Dog Training Methods

How do you define effective dog training methods? I know in the professional world we often get caught up in the scientific discussions of punishment and reinforcement and what constitutes effective use of each. That path of discussion can often lead to heated opinions of the necessity of punishment and for me that brings up the topic of the versatility of a remote collars. Are they only a tool of punishment as some assert?

More importantly, is the dog’s experience of a remote collar always that of punishment?

Is it always a “penalty imposed on an offender for a wrongdoing”? (definition taken from Websters New World College Dictionary)

Before you answer that question, let’s consider some other things that might typically be considered punishment when directed toward our dogs. Could I use a flyswatter as one of my tools for effective dog training methods?

What would you call it if you swat your dog with a flyswatter? Is it punishment?

What if you blast him with a squirt of water or hit your dog with a stick or shake noisy objects at them?

All punishment, correct? Right up there with shock collars…no if’s, and, or buts about it. You might even categorize them as effective dog training methods for punishment based training…

But, I happen to think differently. I believe what is aversive and punishing is defined by the recipient. And that the recipient’s expression of what is aversive is defined by the experience…which in the case of training dogs is created by the trainer.

If you wish to stay locked into the mindset that tools can only fit into one quadrant you may not want to watch the video below or bother to read further. Often what we “know to be true” is only true in our experience. It is false for someone else’s experience.

Stepping outside of our own paradigms can be disconcerting.

Ultimately, we have control over how our dogs perceive any tool we bring into the training scenario. We set the tone and create the experience. My dog’s react the way they do to these supposed “aversives” because of the way I introduced them and created their experience with the tools. Any good protection trainer, or bite sport competitor knows exactly what I’m talking about. A dog’s experience of any tool or situation is created through mindful application.

What made the difference? How come these “punishment” tools (water blasts, shake cans & flyswatter) don’t look very punishing to my dogs?

I believe the answer is: Intent.

Intent determines how one will use a remote collar or any tool and how it will be perceived by the dog. The mental attitude we take with us when we train will determine the majority of our outcome, regardless of our tool of choice.

My advice for anyone considering using a remote collar to train their dog is to check their intent before they put the collar on the dog or start pushing buttons.

If your intent is coming from frustration and wanting to “show the dog once and for all!” it needs to shift before you start training. Using the e-collar that way certainly fits the definition of shock collar and it is not what I want you to do.

Just as my dogs have learned that a blast of water, a flyswatter or a loud, noisy shake can means “play time” your dog can learn that the remote collar means fun learning together and interesting adventures to go on. If you’re interested in learning to use the tool as part of a balanced training program, you’re willing to spend the time and energy teaching your dog what to do rather than just what not to do, my guess is you’ll end up with a dog who loves his e-collar and is an eager and willing participant in your training time together.

It all starts with intent: Shock collar or remote training collar, it’s your choice of what kind of effective dog training method you want it to be.



E-Collar Dog Training

E-collar dog training: Would your dog choose it if you gave him the option?

Have you ever wondered if your dog would choose e-collar dog training? I spend a fair amount of time sleuthing the internet for information and opinions regarding e-collars or “shock collars” as some continue to call them.

One of the sentiments I’ve noticed lately being touted by those who wish to have the tool banned from existence is the idea that the dogs (our dogs) didn’t get to “choose” this form of training or this training tool. This statement is usually uttered in reference or testimonial that demonstrates a human subjecting themselves to e-collar stimulation for either comedic purposes or for the sake of visually elaborating on a concept. The typical commentary is: “well, the human had a choice about feeling that tool, those poor dogs don’t.”

That line of thinking got me pondering on the idea of choices for our dogs. I am curious how you feel about e-collar dog training and hope you chime into the conversation.

I’m all for giving my dogs some options, as in: do you want this toy or this one? Do you want to sniff out this trail or the one over there? But my personal outlook is that my dogs are my responsibility and as such I do make a lot of decisions for them. Here is a brief list of some of the decisions I don’t give my dogs a choice about.

I decide:

What they eat.

What vaccinations they get and how often.

What dogs I trust and allow them to interact with.

If they are allowed to swim or not.

When they need to get a bath, nails trimmed or ears cleaned.

If they get to remain intact or if they will be surgically altered (spay & neuter).

Why do I decide these things for my beloved companions and not give them “their choice”? Well, I feel fairly confident I will make better decisions for them than they would make for themselves. Case in point, my dogs would probably never chose to get vaccinated or take a bath or file their nails, they would likely make some bad choices and trust dogs that they shouldn’t. They would absolutely choose to eat trash and clean up every human left over they could. And for certain, Diva, would jump in the water and swim ANYWHERE despite a dangerous current.

So does the fact that I don’t allow my dogs too many choices make me some sort of evil dictator? If it does, I guess I am guilty of raising my kids that way also. I believe in applying structure, limitations and rules that I determine to be in the best interest of all.

When my charges (dogs or kids) clearly understand the rules I’ve created they actually get more freedom as a result. And they grow to a level of independence that I feel is our responsibility to teach them to have. One of my children is out of the house, putting himself through higher education and making his own way in the world. The second child will soon be following suit. And meanwhile my dogs no longer need to be kenneled or baby gated when I am away from the house and they are calm and well mannered if they are left in anothers care for a period of time. Through the choices I’ve made for them in e-collar “training” they have learned self control and the liberties that go along with that.

e-collar training
“all the kids” circa 2009

I honestly believe that if my dogs could speak for themselves they would choose the e-collar dog training and the subsequent freedom it brings with it.

They get to run off leash in unfenced areas, they get to be part of the party when there is company, they get to go along on most trips and they can be in public venues without being a nuisance.

Yes, I am the one responsible for making the e-collar dog training choice for my dogs. And as a result of it I do not have to make choices to withhold their freedom because “there are too many distractions around” nor do I have to limit their exploration to the end of a leash or clipped to a front pressure harness or head halter.

So what are your thoughts? Is it appropriate that we make the choices for our dogs training tools or exactly how does this argument stack up in your opinion?

Q: How do you use a remote dog training collar?

remote dog training collar

A: Lots of ways.

I hope that is what participants of our workshop discovered last weekend.  A remote dog training collar is so much more than just a tool used to correct bad behavior. In fact that really is one of the last options we recommend you use the e-collar for.  Continue reading “Q: How do you use a remote dog training collar?”