The Top 3 Reasons Your Remote Collar Doesn't Seem to be Working
by Robin MacFarlane
The quickest way to determine what is causing the problems.
The majority of the time when clients return for their second lesson in our remote training series they are pretty satisfied with the results they are getting. As a general rule, they are finding that their dogs are paying better attention to them, are more responsive in coming when called, and see significant improvement in decreasing behaviors like jumping up or play biting.
However, on occasion I get a lackluster response when I ask: "How is it going?"
When I hear an answer similar to "it was great the first couple days, but now Fido is sort of listening, or jumping up a lot again" or any answers along those lines I know we need to do some digging to uncover the reason for the relapse.
Once in a while I even get a phone call a day or two after the first lesson with a dismayed concern that "the collar doesn't seem to be working."
I follow up these types of comments with 3 questions that help me determine what is happening to create the problems. I am going to share these 3 questions with you. You may think they seem silly, but for the novice e-collar user these are the three most common reasons people encounter problems early in the training process with their dog.
Did you check to make sure both the transmitter and receiver are turned on?
This may seem so obvious, but learning to operate a new piece of dog training equipment is no different than any other electronics in that we should always read the owners manual to make sure we clearly understand the features. The fact that different manufacturers' makes and models have different ways to turn off and on should not be overlooked. Often times it is assumed that once the transmitter (hand held remote) is turned on that the receiver (portion the dog wears) is automatically turned on, too. This is not the case, and manufacturers have a variety of ways that the collars turn on. Some have on/off buttons on the collar, some have magnetic switches, and some have a paring feature where a button on the transmitter needs to be activated within a certain distance of the receiver in order to activate it.
The key is making sure you've turned BOTH pieces of equipment on.
Question 2 is:
Are you certain both pieces are charged?
Again this is why it is important to read the owners manual. A majority of the remote collars on the market today are re-chargeable (while a few still use replaceable batteries). It is important to make sure you turn the unit off after use so as not to drain the battery inadvertently. Plus, be sure to heed the low battery indicator warnings to charge as needed during the week.
It is not uncommon for people to charge only one of the two pieces thinking that is all that needs to be done. Both the transmitter and receiver have individual batteries and need to be charged and maintained effectively.
The next question is the one that most often causes early training problems:
Are you sure you have the e-collar fit properly on your dog?
Proper fit is crucial for the e-collar to have any impact on your dog. If BOTH contact points are not touching the dog's skin, the dog will not perceive any sensation at all. This happens because the collar is on the dog too loose.
When you are new to using an e-collar be aware that the fit is far snugger than any other collar you have likely put on your dog. There will be no gap or space that allows the strap to easily slide up or down on the neck the way that we typically fit our regular flat collars. If the e-collar is easily rotating around the dog's neck, it is too loose. Take a look at the more in-depth article for info on how to properly fit your dog (See article: "Proper Fit of E-Collar"), or check out your owner's manual for tips on proper fit. But make certain the fit is good before assuming the gear isn't working.
If the answers are actually yes to all 3 of the above questions, then it is time to dig a little deeper. It is possible there is a malfunction to the equipment. Just like any other electronic product you purchase, once in a while there may be a problem right off the factory floor. Put the collar in your own hand, or use a test light if one is provided with the equipment and see if it is indeed functioning correctly.
If it is determined that the equipment is functioning properly and you are having problems with the dog's response being inconsistent, then we can move on to pinpointing where we're getting off course with the actual training.
Which then opens up a whole additional set of questions, so keep an eye here on the blog as we address some of the most common training problems.
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.