Incorporating a remote training collar into your training repertoire is an exciting but often overwhelming idea. The handler understanding how an E-collar works and grasping the technology meets training ideology is one thing. Asking our dogs to understand this is a whole other project.

There is an art to the science behind remote training collars, and knowing how to properly use one takes time and practice. The first thing handlers need to understand is that the e-collar should only be used to supplement and enhance existing commands that your dog can demonstrate without the assistance of static stimulation reinforcement.

How to Prepare for E-Collar Recall Training

Take the time to teach your dog these three things without an e-collar. Once your dog is successful at these behaviors, then we can begin to layer over the stimulation from a remote training collar.

Before continuing on, I will not be labeling these behaviors with a certain command. Use whatever command you want. The concept and the training are more important than the word.

1. Come to me:

- A recall! This is probably the top thing people want from their dog - come back to me no matter what!

- Recalls are of the utmost importance, especially because it is a great way to keep you, your dog, and others safe.

- A dog that does not recall, is a dog that is eventually going to be in trouble.

2. Go stationary:

- Hold that behavior! Stay in whatever position you are in and don’t move a muscle.

- Another incredibly important skill for off-leash dogs. Or even a dog in the home who needs to stay in a sit/down position when guests arrive or while you carry a pot of boiling water from the stove. 

3. Go away from me:

-Go complete that behavior away from me. The ability to send your dog away from you to their kennel, into your vehicle, or on a place board is essential to having a dog that is under control.

How to Understand if Your Dog is Ready for Recall Training with E-Collar

As stated above, the command that you choose is less important than the concept of what you want to achieve. Consistency in the command you use is important. Dogs do not understand English. You can’t use “come” one time and then “here” or “back” the next time. Pick a command and stick with it. Let’s break down a play-by-play of how you would condition the “come” command on your e-collar.

Does your dog… 

- Only listen to you when there are no distractions?

- Take their time recalling to you?

- Only perform the “come” behavior when you have a high-value treat?

- Move in your direction and then get distracted and wander away again?

- See the word “come” as the start of a game of chase?

- Give you their attention but not actually move towards you?

These are all indicators that your dog does not fully understand the “come” command. This also indicates that your dog isn’t ready to have the e-collar be layered over this command. Before picking up the e-collar, let’s take the time to recondition the word “come” in 4 easy steps:

  1. Put your dog on a leash/rope and grab some treats or something your dog finds reinforcing.
  2. In a low-distraction environment, say the word “come” and apply pressure on the leash bringing your dog towards you. Run backward to get your dog excited to recall! They should think of this as a fun game!
  3. The second your dog begins to move in your direction, release leash pressure, praise them, and reinforce the behavior!
  4. Practice the “come” command every day for short periods of time. Always making sure you have your dog on a leash and are ready to reinforce them. Slowly start to increase the level of distraction as your dog proves that they can complete the behavior successfully. 

Remember! You must take time to train your dog to “come” long before using the e-collar to reinforce the behavior!

How to Teach Your Dog Recall Using E-Collar 

When your dog has shown you, they are capable of completing the “come” behavior without assistance from you; you are then ready to begin to condition them to the remote training collar. Start this training in a low-distraction environment, have treats ready, and keep your dog on a leash/rope. The leash/rope is your safety net that you use to guide your dog to the desired command. When your dog first experiences the sensation of the static stimulation from the e-collar, they have no idea what it is or where it came from. The leash/rope is used to guide the dog into the desired command as you apply light static stimulation to reinforce commands, and positive reinforcement is used as the dog complies. 

1. Find the Right Collar Settings

Once you’ve identified a proper e-collar placement, wear your fully charged and paired e-collar on your dog and figure out your dog’s working level, which is the lowest level of stim your dog can detect. Start at level 5 and slowly start to dial-up, watching for any reaction from your dog. Even an ear twitch or eyes blinking can be an indicator that your dog feels the stimulation! When your dog shows you they feel the stimulation, pair that with a reward like a treat or praise.

2. Practice Commands Without E-Collar 

While keeping your dog on a leash, run through the “come” command without e-collar pressure a number of times to make sure your dog is focused and ready to work. 

3. Introduce Commands Applying E-Collar Pressure

Using your dog’s working level on your e-collar, follow this order: say the word “come”, then press on the nick or tap the continuous button briefly to encourage your dog to complete the “come” behavior. As your dog performs and then completes the command, then reward your dog! It is important to note that the timing of pressing and releasing the button to deliver stimulation is of the highest importance! The instant your dog starts to perform the command, the stimulation should disappear. This will effectively teach your dog that they can turn off the static sensation by performing the command. 

4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!

Repeat this exercise until your dog fully understands how to turn off the stimulation. You have then successfully layered the e-collar over your “come” command!

Final Thoughts

Take your time to condition each of the above concepts in a low-distraction environment with your dog wearing a leash before you even consider unclipping the lead. It is in these beginning stages of conditioning the e-collar that we can set the tone for the relationship between dog and remote training collar. Check out dogtra.com for more training tips and advice! Happy training!

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