How Long Does My Dog have to Wear the E-Collar?
by Robin MacFarlane
It all depends on your dog's individual temperament, and how thorough your training is.
If you are considering using an e-collar to train your dog, it is a wise idea to start thinking about how long your dog will need to wear it. Because thinking about that question will develop a better awareness of how you actually use the tool.
Too often people jump into using a collar, and they don't consider how important it is not to create a dependency on it. It can become a problem when you get those fast results and you forget to teach your dog follow through in a variety of ways.
Of course this happens with all sorts of tools: leashes, harnesses, head halters, and food treats included, but there seems to be a bias against any dependency on e-collars so I want to make sure I address the topic.
The thing is, I can't really tell you how long you will need to use the e-collar. It all depends on your dog's individual temperament, and how thorough your training is.
Let's face it, some dogs are a whole lot more biddable than others and those dogs can be "collar free" a lot faster than the strong, highly independent types.
The real key is to become a person who follows through with your dog. The saying, "say what you mean and mean what you say" is particularly true when trying to raise a dog that will ultimately listen and obey you regardless of e-collar on or e-collar off.
Here is a short video clip with one of my dogs, Tommy, a Belgian Malinois. I haven't routinely used an e-collar with him in many years, but he still wears it from time to time if we travel to an unfamiliar location for a hike. I prefer to be prepared for the unexpected. To me, having the e-collar on my dog is like having an insurance policy. I may not need it at all, but if a situation arises, I'll be very glad I had it.
As Tommy has grown up and grown older in my household, he simply learned that I was consistent. If I told him to do something and I didn't have an e-collar on to enforce with, he was assured I would go to him and insist on the behavior if need be.
It may be a slight touch on the butt to enforce a Sit, or a tug on his collar to encourage moving away from an intriguing smell and come to me. It might be a touch on the shoulder blades to enforce a Down if he hadn't complied.
But he grew up with the idea that obedience was not optional. He was highly rewarded for getting it right and interrupted one way or another if his hearing became selective.
And if for some reason I was feeling just too lazy to follow through with my words, I made sure they never left my mouth to begin with!
Robin MacFarlane is a professional dog trainer and owner of Thatís My Dog in Dubuque, Iowa. Her best-selling dog training DVDs, JUST RIGHT and JUST RIGHT 2 have helped thousands of dog owners teach their dogs basic obedience and fix problem behaviors through a system of training that you can easily work into your daily routine.