How To Use A Dog Shock Collar For Training

Is the training difficult because your dog keeps getting distracted from what you are trying to teach them? A shock collar can be a helpful way of getting your pet’s attention. Here’s what you need to know about using this style of collar for your pets.

How to use a shock collar in 5 steps

Ty the Dog Guy goes over the basics of electric collar training.

Ty’s basic steps are simply:

  1. Use a very low setting to get your dog’s attention while they do the negative behavior.
  2. Employ a verbal command while physically guiding your dog to do the task.
  3. Let go of the remote as soon as your dog begins obeying.
  4. Praise your dog for obeying.
  5. Repeat.

This is a great video because it goes through the steps of teaching your dog a basic task and highlighting the mistakes you need to avoid.

Start with commands your dog already knows

When you first start training, remember your dog has no clue what the shock means. It is a good idea to begin shock training with the command your dog knows.

This helps them understand the idea that the sensation of a low shock is linked to the behavior you do not want and the lack of a shock is linked to the behavior you do want.

How to control bad behavior

Can a shock collar work to stop issues like your dog digging or barking? They can be very effective when used during training but won’t be that useful if you just set it to shock and leave your dog alone.

All you have to do is follow the standard steps for using a shock collar. Remember:

  • Gently set off a low shock when your dog is bad.
  • Reinforce with a verbal command and physical movement.
  • Reduce the shock as soon as your dog obeys.
  • Reward the dog for being good.

How to move from shock to vibrate to no collar training

Like many other dog owners, you are probably hoping to eventually transition away from the collar.

If you get the right collar and train your dog properly, you should be able to gradually reduce the shock setting before moving to a vibrating setting.

The key to this is always using verbal commands during shock collar training. This ensures your dog associates their training with a cue that you can replicate even when they have no collar.


Still, have some questions? Here are some details about commonly asked questions.

What Level Should I Set My Shock Collar?

Always start with the lowest setting. For most models, this is the tone or beep setting. Begin training at that level. The tone is intended to interrupt your dog’s distraction only so they pay attention to you. If the tone-setting is not enough to interrupt their attention and bring it back to you then increase the static correction level by one and begin training again. Many models have a vibration-only level which should be enough to get their attention.

Spend some time teaching them that the tone or low static correction is a sign for them to look at you for a command. Train them to understand the tone or static correction just like you would a training clicker. You’ll need to press the remote button to create a tone or correction, wait for them to look at you, then treat and praise. Repeat this and they’ll quickly learn that a tone or vibration on the collar means to look over at you for a command.

How strong is the shock?

A low setting only emits 0.000005 joules of energy, which is thousands of times lower than the shock you’d feel from something like an ab toning machine.

Are electronic collars safe?

Yes, according to The Humane Society of the United States, they will not cause physical damage when properly used.

Are shock collars waterproof?

Check your device’s description carefully, but most should be.

How do you pick a collar?

Select one with plenty of intensity, shock, and vibration settings, then choose one that matches your dog’s size and weight.

Are shock collars good for training dogs?

Research from the Companion Animal Welfare Council examined over 60 dogs and found shock collars worked just as well as treat based training.

Shock collars are an effective training tool when used alongside owner input. However, they are not good at training dogs if you just put the collar on your dog, set it to shock them when they bark or leave the yard, and ignore them.

Improper shock collar use just ends up stressing your dog and making them anxious without actually teaching them anything.

When should you start shock collar training?

Technically, it is safe to put a shock collar on a dog starting at 10 weeks of age. However, it might not actually be that useful.

According to experienced breeder Matthew Wilson, a shock collar typically is not advisable for puppies because they cannot understand it and just get scared and get stressed during this critical development stage.

Normally a shock collar only helps with training once your dog is old enough to realize that the shock is linked to their behavior.

Usually, dogs have to be at least six months old before they can actually understand what’s happening and learn to adjust their behavior.

Are prong collars good for training?

A prong collar has bluntly pointed metal that pinches your dog’s skin lightly when you pull on the control loop.

The strange metal shape can make it look a little freaky, but it is designed to just surprise your dog, not harm them. This makes it a good tool if your dog is a puller that makes any walk absolutely exhausting for you.

However, you do need to keep in mind that the potential for misuse is a little higher than a shock collar. If you do not have the perfect fit or leave your dog tied up, the prong collar can be very damaging.

Are shock collars cruel?

The idea of causing your dog pain definitely seems cruel, so we understand why so many people try to avoid them. However, when used properly, a shock collar should never be cruel.

A shock collar should be set up simply to get your dog’s attention, not to severely punish them any time they do something you dislike.

Here are some tips to follow to make sure your dog stays safe.

  • Never leave the collar on your dog for extended amounts of time.
  • Regularly clean the contact points that touch the neck of your dog.
  • Rotate the collar every three to four hours to avoid pressure sores.
  • Don’t use random, strong shocks as a form of punishment.
  • Always start with the lowest possible setting and only increase gradually as needed.
  • Don’t use a shock collar when you are not able to monitor the results.

how to use a dog shock collar for training