Dog Shock Collars: 13 Facts You Should Know!

A shock collar, or E-Collar, is a controversial topic of debate, often hotly and vehemently argued over by training professionals and devoted dog owners. 

Some people believe that the use of shock collars is cruel and inhumane, and can cause psychological damage to dogs.

image of red and black dog shock collar

Despite the controversy, there are some people who swear by the use of shock collars and believe that they are an essential tool for training dogs. 

Shock collars should only be used as a last resort when all other positive reinforcement training methods have been exhausted.

This post aims to answer all the questions many pet parents have about E-collars to put an end to any doubt about whether or not they are useful, how they help with training dogs and the foundations of how shock collars operate.

What is a Dog Shock Collar?

A shock collar, also known as a remote training collar, or an E-Collar, is a type of training collar that uses radio-controlled signals to put out a vibration, sound, or electrical shock to correct a dog’s behavior.

Other options include integrating Internet mapping capabilities and GPS to locate a dog or warn the owner of his or her location.

Back in the late 1960s when shock collars were first discovered, they served the sole purpose of training hunting dogs.

Fast forward and shock collars are now utilized for a variety of purposes, including service training, behavioral modification, obedience training, pet custody, as well as military and police dog training services. 

Shock collars manufactured for domestic dogs are the most frequently purchased and are the species you’ll find the majority of shock collars tailored for.

What Is The Difference Between An E-collar and A Shock collar?

The reality is that a shock collar and E-collar are pretty much the same product; the only difference is that varying individuals label them by different names. 

The shock collar is a disparaging word for the E-Collar with many negative connotations, so in its place, E-Collar is being used. 

Concerns about E-Collars have been highlighted by animal rights advocates, who conveniently utilize the word “shock” to further make a point.

In truth, E-Collars, or shock collars, can be a valuable training aid in the right hands, but also leaves dogs vulnerable to abuse in the wrong hands. 

What Shock Collars does the Digdoggy Team Recommend?

Check out our reviews of the top products for specific breeds here.

Do Vets Recommend Shock Collars?

Most vets feel that when used properly, E-Collars can help to lessen undesirable behaviors, but they do not believe that these methods are necessary in most cases. 

Many believe a shock collar administers an extremely harsh correction for an otherwise minor infraction like lunging or failing to follow commands.

Punishment-based training has long been recognized as harmful to animals by veterinary groups and humane organizations.

It’s also believed that positive reinforcement is the most effective training strategy for dogs. And as research into animal welfare, animal training methods, and canine cognition evolve, we must learn, grow and adapt to new approaches. 

A study in 2007 showed that cortisol levels, the stress hormone, rose in dogs when collars were used incorrectly but did not rise when they were used appropriately.

The dog responds to the electric shock by cowering, lowered ears, yelping, and stiff body posture, indicating fear and sometimes discomfort or anxiety.

Electric collars can cause unpleasant associations with their owners or other subjects and might prove an inefficient training aid. 

Are Shock Collars Cruel?

Animal activists and some dog owners are concerned about the usage of E-collars because they infuse a sense of pain as punishment.

E-collars are typically used as a last resort to assist in the training of an aggressive dog who has failed to respond to conventional training methods.

Shock collar training is a form of negative reinforcement training that necessitates the application of and adherence to a moral compass by the pet owner, dog trainer, and other users.

Negative reinforcement training, according to reports, is a recognized and effective approach for getting a point across to the canine and stopping extreme behaviors like violence and aggression. 

Also, shock collars have variable settings and can range from a mild twinge to a more stern correction. 

It’s up to you as a dog parent to decide whether or not using an E-Collar is the best way to train your fur baby.

Are Shock Collars Legal Or Illegal?

Yes! In the united states and UK, shock collars are 100% legitimate to use and sell.

The use of these collars is banned in some countries, like Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

I would recommend you look into the state laws for where you live if you are unsure as to whether shock collars are a legitimate option for training your dog.

Organizations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have spoken out against this form of correction as harsh and inhumane.

red and black shock collar for dogs

How Do Shock Collars Shock? I.e How do they work?

When you use a shock collar to stop your dog from barking, the collar reacts to the vibrations in his vocal cords. 

A remote control enables you to give the shock in combination with the unpleasant activity if you’re using the collar to dissuade behavioral issues like food aggressiveness, jumping, or leash aggression.

When the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver (i.e the collar), a low-level shock is administered to the dog’s neck with a beep, vibrate, or electrical pulse through two metal prongs that rest against the skin.

Do Shock Collars Work On Long-Haired Dogs?

There is some speculation as to whether or not shock collars work on long-haired dogs. Some people say that the shock will not be effective because the dog’s hair will prevent the shock from reaching the skin. 

The trick is to find a shock collar that offers extra-long prongs. So the two metal pins will penetrate the thick fur to make contact with the skin.

How Long Can You Leave A Shock Collar On A Dog

The shock collar should not be left on the dog’s neck for more than 8 hours as it can cause pressure sores, but this varies depending on the breed. 

If left for a long period, dogs may become irritable or even aggressive, or hostile. 

When left on for prolonged periods, the electric shocks can cause tissue damage. In addition, it causes inflammation and soreness on the skin around their necks, as well as hair loss.

dog wearing a shock collar

How Long Do Shock Collars Take To Correct a Dog’s Behavior?

Like any training method, there is no hard and fast rule. Some dogs will respond faster than others but the general average is around 8 weeks before you encounter a noticeable difference.

Consistency and Willingness

How much effort or lack thereof you put into training has a big impact on reliability. You must devote time to teaching your dog the correct behaviors and responding to your commands.

Because it is true, the adage ‘Never give an order you can’t carry out’ has been around for a long time.

Your dog’s reliability will be problematic if your follow-through is iffy, depending on your energy level, attitude, or tools in your hand.

Your long term goal

If you want a dog that can compete or perform dependably in the field, expect the training to take much longer.

It is easier to gain and hold a dog’s attention when there are fewer distractions and the surroundings are familiar. When no other things are vying for their attention, most dogs are eager to listen. 

Set a clear goal of how long you plan on training for each day, week, and month, then review the results on a bi-weekly basis to check for improvements.

This will help you to gain an idea of what areas are needing the most training when moving forward.

The starting point for your dog’s behavior

The dog’s breed, temperament, and age must also be considered. Off-leash reliability will be more difficult to achieve with some breeds. The Nordic and Hound breeds, in particular, have a stronger proclivity for roaming. Terriers and herders have a strong urge to chase down prey. 

You will be in a better position to obtain reliability if you begin training with a young dog rather than an older dog who may have developed negative behaviors. 

How Do You Introduce A Shock Collar to A Dog?

Introducing a shock collar to a dog can be a daunting task. It is important to remember that the shock collar should only be used as a last resort and only after other methods, such as obedience training, have failed.

Always start with the lowest possible setting and work your way up if necessary.

You should also be aware of your dog’s personality and temperament before using a shock collar, as some dogs may be more sensitive to the shock than others.

  • Introduce it to your fur baby gradually, and don’t leave it over your neck for too long
  • Allow your dog to become accustomed to the shock collar
  • Start at the lowest possible setting 
  • Correct only if you catch him in the act of the undesirable behavior 
  • The timing has to be perfect. Only deliver correction at the exact time that the behavior is in progress
  • Do not try to raise the frequency to make him grasp more clearly and quickly
  • Control in the proper manner

Do You Leave Rubber Tips On The Shock Collar? 

There’s a lot of debate around whether or not to leave the rubber, or silicone tips on the shock collar. The rubber tips cover the electrodes, and if you leave it on, then it really isn’t a shock collar, and will only deliver a vibration correction. 

If you take them off, they will now conduct electricity and deliver a shock. Some say that leaving the tips off will deliver a softer correction and is more humane. 

But ultimately, the choice is subjective to the individual training the dog.

How Many Volts Should A Dog Shock Collar Have?

While the voltage varies, the common range of a shock collar is between 400 to 6,000 volts. 

Most dog shock collars have varying levels and you should always start with the lowest one. 

The voltage to be used varies depending on the breed, severity of the infracture, and size of the animal. Larger breeds require more energy to be stimulated, while smaller breeds and younger dogs do not. 

If your dog isn’t responding to lesser voltage levels, gently increase the voltage until they begin to respond with positive behavior.

Can I Test The Shock Collar On Myself?

The simple answer is yes! Placing your hand, finger, or arm across both contact points is the safest and easiest way to test the collar’s shock stimulation on yourself. 

While it is ticking or beeping, touch both spots on the collar. There could be a problem with the receiver collar if you don’t feel any shock.


Just like any other training tool, shock collars can be used in the right way, or a severely wrong way. In the right hands, it can be a powerful training aid that can save a dog’s life.

Some trainers believe that they can be used as an effective form of punishment or correction, but there is significant scientific evidence against this claim.

If you’re considering using a shock collar to train your dog, please consult with a professional to see whether it’s the best option for this moment in time.

Picture of Adeline Ee

Adeline Ee

Adeline holds a BA in Mass Communication from the University of Washington. She is a certified canine behaviorist, marine conservationist, rock climber, and scuba diving instructor. Originally from Singapore, she now lives on Gili Air, an island off Lombok, Indonesia.

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Picture of Adeline Ee

Adeline Ee

Adeline holds a BA in Mass Communication from the University of Washington. She is a certified canine behaviorist, marine conservationist, rock climber, and scuba diving instructor. Originally from Singapore, she now lives on Gili Air, an island off Lombok, Indonesia.

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