When can you start your dog on an e-collar?

The value of starting a dog’s training at a young age is universally agreed upon. Experts all recognize that young puppies are like sponges, soaking up information and learning all the time.

We know that isolation and limited interaction stunts development both physically and mentally. Early socialization and positive exposure to people, places, noises, other dogs, and physical challenges help a pup to develop greater mental stability as they mature. Dog professionals understand that early training, aided by implementing rules and structure, help a new puppy to successfully adjust into a home and life with humans.

The rules are the same if you bring an adult dog into your life. The sooner you start developing a bond through structure and training, the sooner the dog settles into the new environment.

However, the question of when to begin using an e-collar to train a dog is not as easily agreed upon. In general, opinions about e-collar training are as wide ranging as opinions on religion or politics.

I’ve been asked to share my opinion on the question of timing. I’ll say that the answer regarding “when to add an e-collar to your dog’s training” is; “it depends.”

As long as your dog is beyond the baby stage of 5 months or so, use your head and put some thought into the decision. Here are key questions to consider in helping you decide if it is the right time to add an e-collar to your dog’s training program.

  1. Do you know how to use the equipment? If the answer is yes, proceed on to the next question. If the answer is no, do some research on e-collar conditioning. Using an e-collar properly and in the best interest of the dog is not about strapping on the receiver and pushing buttons when the dog is being bad. If that is the limit of your knowledge regarding this tool, then wait until you learn more, or you’ve hired a professional, before you start using the tool.
  2. Are you a relatively patient person? If the answer is yes, proceed on. If you are someone who wants instant results and tends to have a short fuse, go back to doing more research on collar conditioning and the process you should be willing to work through. E-collars are fantastic tools and can certainly make the job of training easier, but if you think adding an e-collar is going to be some sort of magic solution and there will be no work involved, you’re going to need to modify your expectations.
  3. Is your dog a go-getter, high drive, “hyper”, and full of energy? If the answer is yes, proceed on. However, if your dog is withdrawn, shy, fearful or has a significant aggression issue, spend a little time educating yourself on those problems and various techniques to assist in overcoming them. E-collars can be used very successfully with every sort of temperament and personality. However, those dogs that are more withdrawn into themselves or have aggressive tendencies generally need more than just the obedience training work to help them fully blossom into great companions.

So, if you got three straight “yeses” to the questions, you are ready to roll. You can select a collar model that fits your needs, get started training and get on your way to enjoying a more fulfilling life with your dog.

If you had a “no” or two in there, spend a little time educating yourself about how e-collars work, how dogs think and learn and consider hiring a pro to assist you in getting started.

The e-collar is an amazing tool and can enhance the bond between you and your dog by making the training more reliable and giving your dog the freedom to explore some of life off leash!

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