How Does A Dog Shock Collar (Dog Training Collar) Work?


Many pet owners and dog trainers have a different approach to training and taming their pets.

The goal here is to teach them the right ways and keep them safe from being unruly, which may also cause harm to them and to the owner.

One way to train them is by using a shock collar.

This is not to hurt the pet or punish them in any way. A shock collar is used by many dog trainers across the world.

The following article will walk you through the benefits and process of using a shock collar without hurting your fur friend.


Before opting for shock collar use, we highly recommend obedience training as your initial response to bad behavior.

Training your dog can prevent the potential stress of a shock collar, and is a more positive way of deterring unwanted behavior. 

Using a shock collar should be a last resort, and only considered if obedience training fails or if you have a particularly stubborn, large, or aggressive dog.

While shock collars aren’t innately harmful, and have been used by trainers to get the attention of tough cases for decades, for certain dogs they can cause emotional distress.

Check out brain training techniques, a science-backed way to improve your dog’s behavior without the use of force or dominance!

I. What is a shock collar?

A shock collar or e-collar is a narrow band, usually battery operated and remote controlled attached to the neck of the dog pet for training purposes.

This is also called a Zap collar as it transmits small electric waves or shocks to the neck.

The electric shock produced is very brief that only aims to stimulate the dog once it made contact with the skin.

The electric shock does not hurt or harm the dog. It is merely a stimulant, or to bring a jolt or short vibration to the dog.

Experts say that the feeling is similar to having insects crawling on your skin. It is usually used by dog trainers and owners who want to tame their dogs.

Owners commonly opt to use shock collars when they want to stop their pets from constantly barking.

Although the intensity of the electric shock can be adjusted, it is not recommended to have it on high intensity as it may cause stress to the pet.

Read More: Best Collars Compatible With Pet Stop Fencing. If you have a Pet Stop fence, here are our favorite compatible collars!

II. How does a shock collar work?

The basis on why you train your dog is simply to motivate and change its unwanted behavior – just like for humans.

You train your kids to be better human beings by teaching them the right behavior towards certain situations.

The same goes with the pups. As early as this stage, you must establish your grounds and let the dog understand the right way to behave.

In doing this, you need to correct his behavior along the way. And you need to start while he is young.

For example, your furry pet always jumps at you whenever you’re preparing his food – or worse, he jumps right at you whenever you’re carrying the food to him.

This is unwanted behavior.

You need him to be calm until the food is laid on his plate. And you need to establish the authority on doing this. You need a way to communicate for him to behave accordingly.

Attaching a shock collar on your dog and inducing a small jolt on him while he does this jumping off will divert his attention from jumping.

As you hold the remote, make him understand that it is something he needs to acknowledge. Talk to your dog about conditioning him whenever you turn the shock on.

Whenever he follows, give him a reward. By this, he will understand that being calm before feeding is the right way and he will be rewarded.

Most of the common vocabularies that you intend to teach them are, “sit, or stay” “heel”, “come” or “fetch”.

Let them understand that these commands are to be followed; otherwise, you need to enforce them.

It is also important that they recognize that the shock collar goes off at some time of the day. Don’t make them wear the collar the whole time. This is uneasy for them.

Read More: Radius Shock Collar for Dogs With Remote. We tested the top radius shock collars for dogs, great for breeds 10 pounds and up!

III. Attaching the collar

During training days, adjust the shock collar at a notch tighter. This is to make sure that the electricity is felt once you turn the remote on.

The collar will not work if it’s not touching the skin. For more furry dogs, you must attach it a little tighter.

But make sure that there is still enough space for them to comfortably move and breathe.

To check, slip two fingers between the collar and the neck of the dog. Ensure that your fingers can move freely between the collar and the neck.

Make the dog sit in front of you while you set the intensity of the shock. At first, your pet might get uneasy and unruly when you attach the collar.

This is just normal. This is a strange feeling for them, especially when they are not used to having a leash on.

IV. Adjusting the shock collar intensity

There are different ways on how a shock collar works – depending on the brand. Some shock collars have three levels of strength, one being the lowest.

Set the remote control on the lowest shock to train your dog. Remember, the purpose of the shock is to train them and not to hurt or punish the pet.

Dog trainers use a stronger jolt depending on the behavior and attitude of the dog and how long have they been using it.

Pay attention on how the pet would react to the shock collar. If they bark loudly, they hold their ears down, or if they keep on tucking their tails under their legs, it means that they are afraid and hurt or not comfortable with the intensity of the jolt.

This means that the electricity induced is too high to stimulate them. This is the time you reduce the intensity of the shock.

But usually, pet trainers and owners opt to the lowest level, which is the safest.

Have an invisible fence? We discuss How to Adjust Intensity of Invisible Fence Collar in this ultimate guide!

V. It is remote operated

You don’t have to be always close by to train and tame your dog. Using a remote control, you can induce a small intensity of jolt to the dog.

This is helpful when you cannot control the long-lasting barking.

Even when you’re inside the house, you can easily trigger the remote and the jolt will automatically be transferred to the collar.

VI. Who Should Use the Shock Collar?

Shock collars are used mainly by dog trainers to tame unruly pets. They are the ones who know how to train and make the dogs behave.

Dog owners can also use this device at home. Just make sure that you consult a veterinarian or another pet owner who has used a similar device.

Dog owners who overly correct their pets should not use a shock collar.

You need to remember that your dog will still bark from time to time and you don’t need to control that.

Doing so will create fear and stress in the dog, something you don’t want to have on your pet.

Read More: At What Age Can I Use a Shock Collar On a Puppy? Shock collars can be effective training tools when used correctly. Here’s when to start training a puppy!

VII. Why use a shock collar for dogs?

As it was mentioned earlier, the purpose of using a shock collar for dogs is to train them, tame them, and make them recognize your authority. Shock collars have fast results.

You can immediately observe the change on behaviors after couple of times of using. This is because dogs are creatures of habit. They remember things.

Once they recollect that the device will make electric shock whenever they did something unruly, they would recognize it and will not do it again.

Shock collars are also affordable. You don’t have to hire a dog whisperer or have your pet enrolled in a training class just to have them trained.

You can do it yourself at home, using the right device and correct owner behavior.

It is still important to note that a shock collars do not enforce good behavior on your dog alone.

You must create a caring atmosphere and affectionate reward every time that the pet follows you.

They seek for verbal approval, such as telling them that they did well, and it is eventually to give your pet rewards.

The positive attitude you want your pet to have depends on how positive you are as an owner.

It is also recommended to take off the shock collar once you have seen the behavior improved. You don’t have to let them wear it for the rest of their life.

Unless, it will create fear and induce stress to your pet. Once trained, they will carry the correct behavior all the way.

Read More: Can Shock Collars Cause Seizures? Not usually, but there may be some circumstances where they could. Learn more here.

VIII. Be Patient

You cannot teach a trick overnight. This is the same with you cannot teach the dog (old or young) new tricks and good behavior in a very short period of time.

You must be patient. Don’t get frustrated when your pet does not follow you at once. This takes time.

Pay attention to your fur friend’s reaction. If he does not obey you on the first day, it doesn’t mean that you will automatically increase the intensity on the next day.

You have to give them time to recognize the pattern and the command you make.

Once they make progress, you need to recognize it as well. Give them small treats and make them feel that they achieved something.

This is a working progress between you and your pet. And this should be a mutual understanding.

Your pet can sense if you are stressed out and it will translate to how you treat them.

Remember, shock collars are not used for punishment. They are used to train your pets and to make them be better companions.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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