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May 04, 2020
By Marty Grabijas
Some people unfamiliar with remote training collars view them as inhumane. When used correctly, nothing could be further from the truth.
Electronic training collars, or remote training collars, have been around a long time. Trainers of working dogs enforcing commands from a distance embraced the earliest models. Those early collars had limited stimulation settings, and it was not very friendly for the dog wearing it. Their utility as a training tool, however, could not be denied.
About 20 years ago, a shift happened in the training community that brought on a gentler way of training. The brand leaders of remote training collars responded, and today’s collars are a product of that gentle evolution.
People ask me this all of the time. In person, it’s easy to take the collar off of my BFF, ask the person to hold it in their hand and depress a continuous stimulation button. At level 1, where most of my canines are, the sensation is barely perceivable. Plus, nerve tissue in a human hand is likely much more sensitive than in a canine’s neck.
The reality is that the stimulation — when properly adjusted — annoys the dog, but it doesn’t hurt it. I know this because I test the collars before they go on my canines every day by holding the contact points in the palm of my hand and hitting the stimulation button. The sensation might be similar to an insect crawling on your skin.
For perspective, the vibrate feature on my Garmin ForeRunner HRM watch is more of an annoyance to me than level 1 on any of my remote training collars. When I am doing my physical training and go outside of my target training zone, my watch starts buzzing. It is annoying. I adjust my pace to turn the annoyance off, which is the same principle behind remote training collars.
As pro trainer Bill Grimmer pointed out, a remote training collar is analogous to the seat belt beeper in your car. You get in, turn on the ignition, and if you don’t buckle up, the beeper goes off. It’s irritating, so you buckle up to turn it off. For most of us, we now buckle up without thought. That beeper has trained us.