Electronic Training Collars: Transmitter Controls
I prefer a training collar that has easy to use dials that have clicks as you move up and down in the levels. The best dials are big, thick and placed on the transmitter so that the user can use them in multiple hand positions (right or left), while wearing gloves or in wet and sticky (humid) situations.
Good dials are hard to come by and are a very important part of being able to quickly raise and lower stimulation levels as your training situation changes. Much like shotgun fit, a hunter needs to consider the different environments that he will be training and hunting in to make sure that the system they pick will work well for them when training in 90 degree heat but also while hunting in sub zero weather.
The best positive click dials on the market are on the SportDOG 1225, SportDOG 1825, SportDOG 1875, and SportDOG 3225, as well as the Garmin PRO units.
Rheostat dials are best compared to a dimmer switch on a light. There is a smooth feel from level to level with no clicks between levels as you raise or lower the stimulation level. Many folks prefer this style of dial but I do not. I like very exact levels and I find it hard to be as exact with a rheostat.
Positive Clicks vs. Rheostat or "Free Spinning" Stimulation Dials
I use and prefer training collars that have set stimulation levels. I do not care for collars that use the rheostat or "free spinning" stimulation dials. It is my opinion that it is harder to be as precise with a "free spinning" dial than with a transmitter that has a set level on its dial.
I like to be as consistent as I can and I find this hard to do with a "free spinning" dial. I also do not like to look at the transmitter when I am working a dog. I want to be able to increase the stimulation by feel and know where I am without having to look at the transmitter. I also find that most rheostat based systems require two hands to operate. This does not fit well for someone that needs their other hand for training gear or a gun.
I have had some folks ask me why we carry this type of collar if I don't "like" them. It isn't that these are "bad" collars, it is just that I prefer to feel a click in my dial. You might like the Rheostat style and that is fine with me. Some of my reasons come from the fact that the first collar my dad handed to me had very specific stimulation levels and that is what I grew up with.
With the introduction of Garmin's DELTA Series collars, we now have the third option of using keys to raise and lower stimulation levels. Keys are similar to buttons but they are stiffer and have a different feel compared to a button. They have a positive resistance to them, and you can tell when you have clicked a key to make a change without looking at the transmitter. You can also hear a click when the button is pressed. It isn't a loud sound, but the majority of the time you can hear it -- even outdoors.
All Dogtra and E-Collar Technologies collars use the Rheostat dial except the Dogtra Edge series which has interchangeable Rheostat and Click dials.
All SportDOG, Garmin PRO Series, and DT Systems collars have clicks.
Garmin DELTA Series collars use side mounted keys to adjust STIM levels.
The right feel in a button is also a very important part of the transmitter control. Over the last couple of years most of the manufacturers have struggled to get the best feel in a transmitter button as we moved from non-waterproof transmitters to the waterproof transmitters that are the current standard in today's training collars. Overall, I think the majority of the systems we sell have buttons that work well for all users. We still have a few buttons that are too small, too squishy or don't respond as easily as they should.
Button feel is a lot like transmitter dial feel. The best buttons are big, and placed on the transmitter so that the user can use them in multiple hand positions (right or left) while wearing gloves or in wet and sticky (humid) situations. Buttons need to be properly spaced and easy to locate by feel so you don't have to look at the transmitter to find the right button. Much like shotgun fit, a hunter needs to consider the different environments that he will be training and hunting in to make sure that the system they pick will work well for them when training in 90 degree heat but also while hunting in sub zero weather.
The Garmin Delta series, several of the Dogtra units, all E-collar Technologies units, and the high end DT Systems collars use LCD screens on the transmitter. This allows the user to know what level the unit is on and a few of them have info about which dog you are on, battery life, and the type of stimulation you are using.
While the LCD gives you very good information, it requires that you look at the transmitter to know what you are doing with the transmitter. I am not a big fan of this approach. I want to keep my eye on the dog.
Toggle Switches and Dog Selector Dials
Some of the multidog systems that we sell use separate buttons to control the individual dogs. The majority of our multidog units have either a dog selector dial or a toggle switch.
The advantage of a switch that allows you to move between dogs is that you have no loss of features when you are using your unit in a multiple dog situation.
The best toggle switches and dog selector dials are big, and placed on the transmitter so that the user can tell which dog your unit is on by feel, while wearing gloves or in wet and sticky (humid) situations.