Written by Scott Foulger
I am a big fan of using E-Collars, as long as they are used properly. Assuming that a dog will suddenly be perfect, understand and listen to everything you are commanding it, is a very bad mistake to make that can literally ruin a dog. E-Collars are to be used to reinforce things that the dogs already know, not to teach new things. Dogs can be stubburn, we all know this, that is the time to use the E-Collar.
When you are using the E-Collar, be sure to use the correct setting, this is different per dog. The dog should not be yelping or overly twitching, you as a handler should barely be able to tell that the dog is actually getting electric pressure. A blink of an eye or a small head twitch is what you look for, if the dog turns its whole head, take it down a notch or two.
My favorite way to introduce the E-Collar is actually with a bark collar while the dog is tied up or in a kennel. When we have dogs at our house that I am training, I often put a electric bark collar on them, this teaches them not to bark and it gets them used to having an E-Collar on and some slight stimulation. I use the SportDog E-Collars, whats great about them is that they also make a bark collar that has the same exact look and feel to the E-Collars, so to them they really can't tell the difference, which is a good thing.
Like I stated earlier, use the E-Collar to reinforce things that dogs already know and are being stubburn on. It is a way to have control over your dog while not having a physical attatchment to it. For example, when a dog knows the here/come command and knows it well, and you call him and he decided to keep doing what he is doing, I don't wait for the 3rd or 4th command to hit him with the collar, I do it along with the 2nd time I say it, this way he learns not to make me ask twice. If I am running blinds and I give the dog a cast and it goes the other way, I sit him and say "NO!" along with a short correction, and then recast him.
I cannot say enough not to overstimulate your dog. I have seen this ruin a dog. I once bought a 9 month old French Brittany from great lines, when I bought her, she had already been owned for a while and was given back to the owner, this concerned me but the lines and videos of her running looked great. I met wth the breeder and I watched her run through some brush and she looked great and pointed well. She was small, about 25 lbs. full grown. I took her home, went out to the field, put down a quail for training, put on her E-Collar/Beeper Collar and told her to hunt, the second I put on the collar, she completely shutdown and would not leave my side. This immediately concerned me. I took off the prongs on the E-Collar and kept it on for days for her to just get used to it, it didn't work. This was bad because I couldn't train her and I couldn't find her if we were hunting because I couldn't have the beeper on, which also scared her. She was so small that i'd lose her in just about any cover without the beeper.
Sad to say but the dog wouldn't hunt and she had to go. I found a nice family for her that won't hunt her and that's where she is today. Moral of the story, don't terrify a dog with a collar, use it the way it was made to be used, not to abuse dogs. Whoever owned her between the breeder and I was obviously very hard on her with the E-Collar and I'd like to pay him a personal visit if I knew where he lived, which is probably a good thing that I don't. He ruined that dog and made sure it would never hunt again because he was a jerk to her on the E-Collar.
E-Collars are a great training tool, but you should be able to run your dog without it at some point, that should always be the goal. Also, if you are ever planning on running any Hunt Test's or Feild Trials, you should start training without them because you cannot have any E-Collars on dogs when you run them.