The first electric collars were invented for hunting. They appeared around the middle of the last century and their objective was to control hunting dogs and prevent them from getting lost chasing deer or other prey.
Despite following a rudimentary mechanism, they were very useful for preventing unwanted behavior from a distance. The problem with these primitive electric collars was the high intensity of the discharge, which harmed the animals. This caused fear in the dogs, which got scared and lost all interest in learning new commands, so they were not effective for training.
Later, only around the 1960s and 1970s, work began on a more effective collar that would allow correcting unwanted behavior in dogs and training them at the same time. A way was sought to make electrically stimulated collars work in a safer and less unpleasant way for dogs.
Various investigations concluded that dogs have animals with different degrees of sensitivity and temperaments, so the solution they came up with was to create collars with different intensities of electrical stimulation. Thus, each dog receives just the right amount of current to create slight discomfort, but without harming it.
Thanks to these improvements, collars began to be used to correct canine behavior problems beyond the realm of hunting. My dog training collar today follow this same model, with hardly any alterations since that time.
How does an electric dog training collar work?
Electric collars work through the conditioned reflex. This means that dogs respond predictably to an imposed situation.
Touch collars deliver small electrical impulses to the dog’s neck. Despite being a mild shock, it has enough power to slightly annoy the dog, get a reaction from him and make him stop doing a certain action.
Dogs are intelligent animals with the ability to reason. Thanks to this, the dog associates its inappropriate action with the unpleasant sensation produced by the discharge. To avoid feeling that discomfort again, they understand that they must allow the associated inappropriate behavior to take place.
The vast majority of training collars also include other less aggressive correction methods than shocks, which in many cases are enough for the dog to desist from its action, since they serve as a warning.
The most common modes are Beep mode or training by sound, vibration and electrostatic discharge. Less used is the use of spray or light.
Almost all training collars have controls that allow you to choose the degree or mode of correction you want to apply to your dog. The advantage of this is that you can apply the correction from a distance.
There are also automatic collars that are activated every time the dog barks with a volume higher than a certain threshold. It is not necessary that you be with him, however they are only good for dogs with excessive vocalization problems.
In ultrasonic collars, when you press the sound button, a beeping sound that is inaudible to humans, but annoying to dogs, is activated. This sound can be used as a marker, just like a clicker.
For the beep to take effect, the dog must be trained to have a certain type of reaction, for example:
If we activate the beep and at the same time tell him “no” when he does a bad deed, the association will be negative. Surely the first few times it will not stop, but if following the beeps there is an electric shock, after a few sessions the beep will only serve to make the dog stop repeating the action as soon as it is heard.
On the other hand, if when activating the beep we reward the dog, it will create a positive association of the sound and will stop to wait for its reward.
You have to be consistent with the chosen modality and once the dog has been trained, do not change it.
Still, dogs are generally preferred to make the negative association. This way, when you do something wrong, the beep will be a prompt to stop or the annoying beeps will be followed by the shock.
The vibration works the same as the beep, and can be used as a marker or as an interruption of an inappropriate action.
The vibrations are not harmful or bothersome to the dog; they simply attract his attention and consequently stop.