Shock Collars: Pay for What You Need, Not What You Don't
The shock collar has been one of the biggest advances in dog training in the last 50 years. Originally developed in the U.S. in the late 1960s for working/hunting dogs,
Shock collars are invaluable in an expansive outdoor environment
shock collars remain the preferred training method for professional dog handlers and sportsmen today.
The technology and the capabilities of modern shock collars are impressive, but what exactly are you getting for your money and do you really need to spend the extra cash?
We walk through the numerous features shock collars offer and break down their various uses to help you find the collar with the functions you want, not the bells and whistles you don't.
How Far Do You Need to Go? - Choosing the Right Range
The effective range of shock collars varies anywhere from 100 yards to 2 miles. Of course 2 miles sounds great, but are you really likely to be separated from your dog by 2 miles? A professional hunter might need to cover that sort of distance, but for the recreational sportsman or outdoor dog handler it's probably not necessary. Conversely, a range of 100 yards is fine for suburban pet training, but for anything bigger than a backyard it probably won't suffice and you should choose a collar with a greater range.
- Short range, less expensive shock collars include: Petsafe PDT00-13882, SportDOG SD-105 and SportDOG SD-105S Shock Collars.
- Longer range, but more expensive collars include: DT Systems 1.3M Remote Trainer, Tri-Tronics Trashbreaker G3.
DT Systems' H2O is waterproof and designed to survive in all weather conditions
Keeping Your Head Above Water - Water Resistant and Waterproof Option
A hunting dog works in all weather conditions and all types of terrain, so a waterproof receiver collar is a necessity. That said, certain models' waterproofing is perhaps more than you will ever need; for example the DT Systems 1.3M is guaranteed to withstand being submerged in 12-feet of water for 4 hours without leaking.
- Tri-Tronics Classic 70 G3 has insulated collar contacts for added reliability in water.
- The DT H2O's receiver collar floats to prevent loss in deeper water environments.
Adjustability and Multiple Stimulations - Additional Correction Methods
The primary training method of a shock collar is the static pulse, although many collars also offer additional corrections/warnings to help the training process and offer a more versatile set of stimulations. These additional corrections allow a collar to be fine-tuned to the temperament of a particular dog and offer an increased range of commands/warnings to use while training.
- Collars with tone correction include: PetSafe Elite Dog Trainer, Einstein 700 Shock Collar, DogTek Canicom 400.
- Collars with vibration correction include: DT H2O 1-Mile Remote With Vibrator, Dogtra Advance Remote Shock Collar.
Correction Intensity - Matching the Power Levels to Your Dog's Temperament
Although most shock collars have virtually identical maximum and minimum levels of correction intensity, the biggest difference is the number of 'levels' between the highest and lowest. More levels mean a smaller step in intensity each time, fewer levels mean larger jumps. If you are training particularly sensitive dogs then more settings with gradual hikes in intensity might be preferable and vice-versa.
Running Time - Which Battery Systems are Best
- The DT 1-Mile Remote collar features "rise stimulation" that continually increases the intensity until the dog corrects its behavior and you release the button.
When a collar's batteries stop working the collar stops working. Most collar receivers use rechargeable batteries although quite a few of the transmitter units still rely on disposable batteries. Disposables mean you spend more on operating costs, so rechargeable is preferable for many users. A newer development is in-field charging, which has dramatically increased the shock collar's operational longevity.
- Tri-Tronics Trashbreaker G3 features in-field recharging capability.
- Dogtra Advance features rapid 2-hour rechargeable lithium polymer battery.
More is Always Better - Multiple Dog shock Collars
If you're serious about your hunting you probably need to train and control more than one dog at a time. If so, shock collars that can be expanded to multi-systems or units sold specifically for multiple dog training will be essential.
The Devil's in the Detail - Other Features You Might Look For
- Tri-Tronics Pro 500 will train 3 dogs within 1 mile radius.
- Tri-Tronics Classic 70 G3 Expandable will train 6 dogs within 1 mile radius.
- Automatic shut off safety features to prevent accidental or prolonged corrective pulses.
- Hidden antennas or antennas woven into collar to not irritate the dog.
- Shock collars specifically made to fit large or small dogs.
Ultimately the more options and features a shock collar offers, the more customizable it will be to any given dog. The flipside is spending money on a bunch of features you'll never really use. But as the saying goes; "You pays your money, you takes your choice."
By John Bone