It’s hard to answer the question: “What’s the Best Shock Collar?” There are many products with different functions that fit different roles. There are people with different preferences and dogs of different sizes and temperaments.
How do you determine what’s the best? The most expensive? The one with the most bells and whistles? In today’s times, we can safely say what’s best based on one word: Optimization.
Contested against different categories, which collar fares the highest among them. In the end, it’s going to still be up to you which device is best, but we’ll make sure to help you with your decision.
How to Choose a Dog Shock Collar
There are plenty of shock collars out there and other aversive training collars that don’t use shock, like spray collars, so it may be hard to zero in on what you want. To help you narrow down what you need, consider the different features of the training collar and compare them to your training goals.
If your dog has a behavioral excessive barking problem, you can either manually train them or let the collar do the training for you. The programming depends on the type of bark collars you choose, but ultimately, they warn your dog with a beep for the first few seconds, then deliver the stimulation if they continue.
The stimulation depends on the bark control device; spray bark collars use a burst of aerosolized citronella oil, while others only use vibrate. Some training collars also have built-in automatic bark controls, allowing you to train them normally when you’re around and let the collar train them when you’re not.
Training collars use radio waves to reach their respective receivers. The strength of which depends on the device. Some go as far as 1.25 miles, or about 6000 ft range.
On average, most collars have a 1/2 mile range, which is more than enough for most outdoor activities. What should be considered is where you’ll use the collar since any obstacle in between, like bushes, trees, cars, and so on, can dampen the range.
For collars with 3/4 miles and higher, you wouldn’t see any discernable effect since the range is still quite large, but those with ranges of 400 yards and below tend to have a noticeable decrease in range.
This mainly depends on you. Do you want the consistent effect of using static shock? Or are you confident that your dog will respond well to vibrate-only collars? Spray collars use citronella instead of shock and work by irritating their sinuses.
It has the added benefit of keeping insects like ticks and fleas, but you need to purchase refill packs every now and then. Most modern collars have both vibrate and shock, and you can just replace the metal prongs with the included non-conductive plastic caps if you want to mainly use the vibrate.
Levels do not reflect the overall strength of the collar. Instead, it defines how powerful the next step is before the maximum output. Some collars have 10 levels, others 15, and some collars go as high as 100.
There are some pros and cons to them. The 10-15 levels mean it’s easy to adjust the level and go back to the original level on the fly since you just have to remember how many presses you made. For those with 100 levels and similar, you have the benefit of precision, but changing the levels back and forth won’t be so fast.
In most collars, the level adjustment also affects the vibration strength but not the beep.
Thanks to the advancements in Lithium-Ion batteries, we now have small devices with long-lasting battery life. Most collars that use Lithium-Ion batteries that last anywhere around 40-70 hours, depending on how much you use the functions of the kit. Some collars have standby or sleep mode that preserves the battery life when not in use. Others don’t but have the benefit of always working as soon as you press a button instead of waking up first.
Smaller kits have shorter battery life mainly because they have smaller space for the battery. This isn’t much of a factor now since you can charge them for a day’s use in 15-30 minutes or 2-3 whole days in 2 hours.
There are two types in this category: Water-Resistant and Waterproof. Water-resistant means the device can withstand getting wet in the rain or a stream of water but cannot be submerged in water. Most remote controllers are weather-proof a.k.a water-resistant.
Waterproof means it can be submerged in water, as much as 25-50 ft for an hour or two without suffering water damage. Anything shallower, and the device won’t be damaged at all. All receivers, especially the ones in this list are waterproof, meaning your dog can take a deep dive in a pool or lake, and it won’t impact the receiver at all.
In a rush? Here are the top picks!
First on the list in this category is the Pet Resolve kit. For its price, you get a wide range of features a shock collar should have such as Shock, Vibration, and Beeping. It also has a 3/4 mile range effectiveness and LED blinking lights, and the cherry on top, the collar can be switched to an anti-bark collar to solve excessive barking problems.
It also supports up to 3 collars per remote, allowing you to train or manage multiple dogs at once by purchasing additional collars. It’s all that, in a splashproof remote and waterproof collar. It’s fit to be a hunting collar which speaks to its toughness. The 10 Levels of shock are a little limiting, but it’s a small con in lieu of a lot of features.
Its battery life is long, lasting over 2-3 days at full charge without turning it off. Another con but also a pro is that the collar doesn’t go into standby mode. The collar will always work without delay, provided it has power.
The Petsafe kit looks as simple as it works. It has the three training functions you need to minimize unwanted behavior. It has 15 levels of static shock, and it’s worth noting that you can only adjust the shock intensity.
You have to set the shock level to vibration mode in order to use it. It allows for fewer buttons hence the sleep remote design, but you then lack the flexibility of using the vibrate as a signal or when calling your dog’s attention.
What you also get is an easy-to-adjust nylon collar and a small-form receiver, and the remote, depending on the model, can support up to 2 collars. You can opt to purchase a smaller collar that fits smaller dogs as small as 8 lbs. You can use the vibrate function on them if you feel like using electric shocks is too much.
Still using Li-On rechargeable batteries, the unit has a good battery life despite the size. You’ll get about 50 hours of operational life, and it goes longer when the device goes into standby mode.
The fourth on the top budget picks also sports a more compact remote and a special “blunt” shock level included in all the Educator models. It also has a rheostat also known as a knob to finely adjust the level of shock, giving it a total of 127 shock levels.
The display on the remote will show you which level you’re at and it has a lock on the knob to avoid accidental shocks of higher levels. The vibrate and the beep are also adjustable and the vibrate is strong at the higher levels.
The “blunt” shock mode is still quite subjective as the reaction depends on each dog, but we can assume it delivers a less irritating shock compared to the rest.
It has a range of about 1/2 miles and depending on the model, you can support up to two dogs with one remote. The remote is waterproof and can float on water, allowing you to retrieve it in case you drop it in a lake or a pool. The receiver is also waterproof. Just make sure to always seal the charging ports.
The battery life is still the same, about 50 hours on a full charge, and it charges back to full in 2-3 hours.
This smaller model of the Dogtra brand can fit dogs as small as 7lbs, but we do recommend only using the collars on dogs 15 lbs and above. One small difference it has is it doesn’t have separate beep and vibration modes.
This device combines them into one button. The combination allows you to get your dog’s attention faster, but you lose some flexibility in using each function as a separate way to signal your dog.
The range is less than most of the collars in this list, reaching only 400 yards in an open space. If you’re only training in your yard, this range is more than enough, but even in urban environments where the signal could be dampened, you still have 200-300 yards of effective range.
The remote is water-resistant, and the receiver is waterproof. The battery life of both devices is pretty long, with 50 hours at full charge and charges back to full in 2 hours.
Even though this collar is meant for smaller dogs, it still fits very well with medium-sized dogs and any other breed around that average size. As with the Educator series, they have a weaker or “blunt” shock sensation. It still has vibration and beep functions, and to adjust the level of sensation, it has a rheostat, allowing a wide 60-level range of control.
The slight downside is it also has a weaker reach: 1/3 miles, or about 1700 ft range. It’s still a far range, farther than a small dog can run at full gallop in a few seconds.
The remote is water-resistant and floats on water, so it might as well be waterproof. The receiver is waterproof for up to 25 feet before any water damage occurs.
One other smaller thing about the kit is the battery life. It will last about 50 hours maximum, shorter depending on usage. It still charges back to full in 2 hours.
On the second half of the list is the SportDog model. Like all the collars in this list, it’s made of high-quality materials and is advertised as hunting-competent, making it more than just a training collar.
It has a moderately powerful shock, an audible beep, and strong vibration modes and can be adjusted with 10 stimulation levels you can check using the visible OLED screen on the collar.
It can support up to three dogs per remote and has a remote range of 1/2 miles, which is important for hunting and work training. Both the receiver and the remote are waterproof, and the remote has a good rubber grip.
It’s also equipped with a long-lasting battery life, which can last 2 days without charging and up to two weeks if you only use it during training sessions. Both the remote and the collar charge from empty to full in 2 hours.
Another one from Dogtra is their 280C model, which has three training functions, a rheostat/dial to adjust the 127 levels of stimulation, and can support up to two collars per remote, depending on the model you pick.
The shock is quite mild, combined with a fine level of control with either shock or vibrate. It has a total range of about 1/2 miles, but depending on your surroundings, it will be about 500-yard range effectiveness at least, so keep that in mind.
The remote control and the receiver have a waterproof design and can be submerged as deep as 25 ft for about half an hour before any potential water damage. Battery life, at full charge, lasts about 50-70 hours depending on usage, and the Lithium-Ion Battery on both devices can be charged back to full in just 2-3 hours.
Small form and easy to use, the EZ model tries to have everything you need remote-wise. It has a milder shock strength at maximum level, and you’re given perhaps the widest range of stimulation adjustment, reaching 256 alongside a shock boost button.
You might end up doing a lot of estimation on the levels, but it at least offers a lot of precision. The beep is soft but audible enough even at a distance, useful in case you lose the transmitter or can’t find it for some reason.
The remote has a range of about 1/2 miles in open spaces. The distance will lessen if there’s anything between the remote and the collar, such as walls, trees, or cars. The remote is water-resistant, completely weatherproof, and the receiver is completely waterproof for about 25 ft.
The battery life is, on average, around 40 hours, 50 if you don’t use it as much and only keep it on for signaling purposes. It does charge fast, at around 2-3 hours to get it from empty to full.
Coming in at number 9 is a brand that has decent quality and a bit of a chubby remote compared to the others, but in exchange, it has decent durability and a nifty unique function.
It has three training functions: Shock, Vibration, and Beep. The shock is moderately powerful, so start at the lowest levels first before raising it, especially if you know how sensitive your dog is. It has 15 levels of stimulation, so it has a level of precision.
The remote has an effective range of 1/2 miles, or approximately 2500 ft range, and can support two collars per remote. The remote has a distance gauge, which acts much like a signal meter for the collar. It detects how far the collar is from the remote, and though it doesn’t show numbers, it can potentially tell you your dog’s general direction.
The battery life is still the same, 50-70 hours per full charge, longer when the collar goes into standby mode. If you’re out of charge, you can recharge it back to full in 2-3 hours.
Last but certainly not least, this training kit has three training functions as any good electric shock collar should have: Shock, Vibrate, and Beep. The shock is quite strong, but you can adjust it using the dial on the remote. You have 10 levels of correction to pick, which also adjusts the levels of vibration.
It has a range of 1/2 miles but does not support any additional collars. Considering that trees and bushes dampen radiowaves to a certain extent, expect getting less range from it, about half at worst, but that’s still a high range even for hunting. The receiver has remote-activated LED lights that are visible even as far as 100 yards (depending on how sharp your eyes are.)
The remote is tough and easy to handle and both that and the receiver have a waterproof design meant to weather anything you’re willing to. The long-lasting battery life is a given for hunting collars, giving you as far as 70 hours of full use before it needs a recharge.
This training kit was made specifically for hunting, making it a tough shock collar for training. The remote has a no-look design, allowing you to operate the device with one hand and focus on what you’re doing while making quick adjustments.
The remote has 10 simulation levels and the dial gives a nice click to let you know how many levels you’re adjusting. It also has separate buttons for momentary shock and continuous shock, although the vibrate button is a bit out of reach if you have smaller hands.
Since it’s a hunting collar, it needs a good range and this collar has a max range of 1/2 miles. You’ll get less range if you’re in a place full of trees and flora, but it’s still a high range regardless. The receiver also has a bright LED that flashes, helping you find your dog in the dark.
The remote and receiver are waterproof and the remote has a solid feel to it. The battery life is great, lasting 50 hours on a single charge and only takes 2-3 hours to charge back to full.
How do you train your dog with a shock collar?
The most effective way and efficient way is using the “Negative Reinforcement + Positive Reinforcement” combo to encourage positive behavior. This is not the same as the “Carrot and Stick” approach which is more like “Praise and Punishment”
Before we explain, remember, you should never use the shock function to punish your dog in any way. The only time you should use the shock to stop a behavior is if they are in a harmful situation such as fighting another dog or if they are in imminent danger such as crossing a busy street or running off without a leash in an unsafe area like a road.
To explain the process, we’ll use the “sit” command as an example.
First, you teach your furry buddy to sit. There are many ways to do this, but as long as they understand that “Sit” means to put their behind on the ground, you can start the “Reinforcement” of this behavior.
Get your dog’s attention first. Start the stimulation (shock/vibrate) then as soon as you do, you state the “Sit!” command. The moment your dog sits properly, stop the sensation and immediately signal them that they did the right thing, like saying “Good!” or using the beep, or a clicker, then give them the treat.
Stimulation + Command > If dog does the correct action > Stop Stimulation > Signal + Treat
If they don’t do the correct action for 3 or so seconds, stop the stimulation, get their attention again and try again.
The result here will be that your dog learns how to turn the sensation off by doing the correct thing, then they feel happy because they are rewarded when they do the right action. It minimizes the fear they feel since they get a sense of control over the collar’s stimulation.
Eventually, they will do the command without the stimulation, and after enough training sessions, they will get the point of it all, and respond the same way on treats and praise alone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it cruel to use a shock collar on a dog?
A shock collar is a training tool like a martingale collar, prong collar, or even a head collar. It’s only as cruel as the person using it. There are trusted methods of using shock collars that are both effective and efficient. A shock collar should not be used unless the user has done their due homework on how to use them. When used properly, it helps your dog learn how to listen to you instead of simply fearing that they will get shocked if they do the wrong thing.
Shock collars should never be used for punishment. Never use it after your dog has done the wrong thing, like digging up the lawn or peeing on the couch. Instead, use the shock collar to teach them obedience commands so you can tell them to stop when they do any negative behaviors.
Do dog trainers recommend shock collars?
Like any other tool used to solve behavioral issues, professional trainers use them. However, it’s a tool among many, and if your pooch responds to positive reinforcement already, there’s little need for other tools. Professional trainers use shock collars to help stubborn dogs with aggressive behavior and other undesirable behavior where normal methods don’t work.
It’s not just for bad behavior. Shock collars are great tools to send quick, silent cues to your dog for activities like hunting and agility sports. If you do your homework and understand the process, you can use a shock collar.
What is the difference between a shock collar and an E collar?
They are the same, to some extent. Some collars that are powered by electricity don’t have shock functions like vibrate collars and spray collars. You can call them E collars for that reason.
Some e-collars have shock as their function, making them static shock collars. There are many names for them, but one they have in common is they are all powered by electricity in the form of a battery.
Do shock collars change a dogs personality?
A dog’s personality is hard to change, just like a human’s. However, they can be taught how to act in certain ways when trained to do so. If your dog is the affectionate kind, they will show their love for you, but you can train them not to smother your face when you’re laying on the couch.
Shock collars, when used properly, only help cement how they act on certain commands. Our affectionate dog will still remain affectionate, it’s just that they will stop jumping on your lap when you’re typing something when you do tell them to “stop”, though they may still show it in other ways.
A dog becoming afraid, aggressive, and evasive is the result of prolonged misuse and abuse of shock collars. This can happen even outside of shock collar use, even with the use of verbal punishment.
How do you discipline a dog with a shock collar?
You do it by using the shock collar to reinforce obedience commands. Teach them how to stop what they are doing and focus their attention on you, to sit down, to stay still in one place, and so on. The shock collar and a tactical bag of treats will help you cement those obedience behaviors.
Then when your dog does these inappropriate behaviors like jumping on visitors, you can then tell them to sit and stay still as the visitors come in and praise them for being polite and behaved members of the family.
If you must punish your dog in any way, do not use the shock collar. Dogs are smart enough to understand when their owners are angry at them. An example of a harmless but effective method is the good old squirt of cold water.
Check out this video for more information about dog shock collars:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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