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What is the Difference Between an E-Collar and a Shock Collar?

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There is a massive difference between an E-Collar and shock collar. It’s frustrating that so many trainers and dog owners misunderstand E-Collars, because they are something that, as primarily positive trainers, we stand behind.

In other words, we don’t believe that they should have the same negative reputation as a tool of force and corrections that shock collars do.

Today, I wanted to address this and clear the air! If you’ve been around our blog a bit, you know that we support responsible E-Collar use, but NOT shock collars.

Interested in learning more about why? Read on…


+ Sharp static shock, similar to a hot electric fence or sticking your finger into an outlet
+ Designed to scare a dog away from a behavior
+ Often painful and always startling
+ Typically offers a warning beep and/or vibrate function, which can mislead dog owners into feeling they are using the tool humanely
+Relies on ‘easy button’ method training, where the dog is the subject of the training, not a participant in it
+Can cause frustration and confusion, especially with poor shock timing
+Scientifically proven to increase fearful and distressed body language, including lip licking, pinning ears, cowering and yelping
+Scientifically proven to increase reactivity and aggression
+Often sold inexpensively online and in pet stores
+Often, though not always also used for invisible fences. Barrier frustration is common.


+ Blunt muscle stimulation, exactly like a TENS unit from a doctor or therapist
+ Designed to be a communication tool, not a correction tool
+ Not painful. Feels like a tickle or tiny ants
+ May offer a warning beep or blunt vibration, which many E-Collar trainers find they never use. Vibration is much more aversive than blunt stim to many dogs
+Relies on the dog having a positive association with the sensation, and being an active participant in training
+Enhances communication and reduces frustration. Allows for more freedom.
+When used correctly, is proven to be a humane and effective training method with no added fear or stress.
+Can increase confidence and freedom and reduce reactivity and aggression
+Only a few companies make E-Collars, they are more expensive and high quality
+Are becoming more common with electric fences, and can be used to teach boundaries.


Many people resort to a shock collar when they’ve reached their limit with a dog that is exhibiting frustrating and dangerous behaviors such as jumping and running away.
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The typical approach to shock collar training includes being ready to hit the ‘easy button’ and startle the dog using beep, vibrate or shock away from an inappropriate behavior.

This action is very rewarding to the person holding the remote, but often frustrating and confusing to the dog.


When a dog is unsure about the corrections or how to respond to them, they become confused. Many begin to show escalating signs of frustration and fear.

They may yelp, cower, tuck and run or even redirect their anxiety into reactivity. Many continue to ‘act out’ or are labeled as  ‘stubborn’ when they continue to repeat incorrect behaviors.

A lot of dog owners will ‘show the dog the remote’ as a threat to push them into compliance. The dog sees it and runs away, often cowering and showing subtle signs of stress. In this common scenario, the threat has become the tool, and that threat is heavily relied upon.

This practice creates a training environment where the dog is under control only because of fear and restrictions, not because they’ve actually been taught right from wrong and given freedom and autonomy. 

Shock and startle easy-button training is what gives electronic dog collars a bad name, and it’s a misconception we are out to fix.

Have you made this mistake in training your dog? Don’t stress and simply read on!


The first step in E-Collar training is to establish the dogs ‘working level’. E-Collars are adjustable. The working level is the point where the dog feels the stimulation.

For many dogs, their ‘working level’ is almost imperceptible to humans. Imagine training your dog with something so gentle! It feels like a small tingle or ants crawling on the skin.

The next step is to pair the stimulation with positive things. Stim, treat. Stim, treat.

The dog quickly becomes EXCITED about the stim!

Proper E-Collar training does NOT rely on force, fear or harsh shock corrections.

Now, you may be asking how a large, in-charge dog could possibly be responsive to this, and that is where the magic of E-Collar training comes into play.

With E-Collars, the dog is an ACTIVE participant in the training. They learn exactly what the stimulation (communication) means and understand how to turn the stimulation down or off by making choices.

Turning the stimulation down and off is very rewarding to them, and many dogs enjoy the mental enrichment aspect. It builds their confidence, especially as the training allows them more freedom.

The stimulation is simply an annoyance; it’s not painful and it doesn’t have to scare them.

They also understand that the stimulation means ‘turn around’ and come back, because doing so always results in good things (especially at first).

When you do have to use a more intense stim to redirect your dog or get his/her attention in a dangerous or inappropriate situation, the dog knows exactly what to do and doesn’t associate the sensation with the environment.

Remember, E-Collar training is a lifestyle. Shock collar training is a bandaid.

Even large and ‘in-charge’ type dogs can make a complete 180 with proper training using positive reinforcement and the E-Collar as a communications tool.

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We stand by E-Collar Technologies training systems, which offer adjustable blunt stim and multi-dog models.

Shop E-Collars for your Great Dane here! We are an authorized distributor of E-Collar Technologies models and would love to help you give your dog off-leash freedom!

If you’ve previously used a shock collar, that’s ok! Start over again with the E-Collar. It’s a completely different tool and used a completely different way. We are here for you if you have questions!

A properly used E-Collar is MORE humane, MORE effective and LESS aversive than:

  • vibration mode
  • a leash
  • a no-pull harness
  • a head harness
  • a prong or choke collar
  • leash pressure
  • a collar grab
  • a harsh verbal correction
  • a leash pop
  • a spray bottle
  • a can of pennies
  • endless restrictions to freedom and autonomy because of dangerous behaviors such as fence jumping, excessive pulling and running away.

    Why do we stand behind E-Collars?
    Because happy, confident, well-trained dogs that have autonomy and freedom make excellent family pets and good canine citizens.

    Shop E-Collars, shipped quickly to you here. 

Do you E-Collar train? Share your experience below!

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

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