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ARCHIVE: 2013 Garmin Delta & Delta Sport REVIEW by Steve Snell

   Garmin's first line of dog training collars


See Steve's Video Review

  Introducing the brand-new Garmin DELTA and the Garmin DELTA SPORT dog training collars -- high-end remote dog training collars at an affordable price.

Both are expandable up to three dogs and have a one year warranty.

The DELTA ($169.99) 

  1. half-mile range system
  2. 18 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation
  3. Tone and Vibration options
  4. 3 different button configurations

The DELTA SPORT ($219.99)

The DELTA SPORT also has a few features that we have never seen at these price points.

  1. 3/4 mile range system
  2. up to 36 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation
  3. Tone and Vibration options
  4. 5 different button configurations
  5. Built-in Bark Collar

DELTA Button Configurations

Here's what's really cool:  Each transmitter has 3 different buttons and you can change what each button does by selecting a different "configuration."

3 Different DELTA Configurations (button set ups)

  1. Tone, Vibration, Momentary Stim
  2. Tone, Continuous Stim, Momentary Stim
  3. Vibration, Continuous Stim, Momentary Stim

Button 1
Button 2
Button 3

DELTA SPORT Button Configurations

The DELTA SPORT includes same 3 buttons configurations as the DELTA, plus two additional configurations (button set ups), which will allow you to have a wider spread (36 levels) of both continuous stimulation and momentary stimulation.  

5 Different DELTA SPORT Configurations (button set ups)

  1. Tone, Vibration, Momentary Stim
  2. Tone, Continuous Stim, Momentary Stim
  3. Vibration, Continuous Stim, Momentary Stim
  4. Momentary, Continuous Stim Low, Continuous Stim High
  5. Continuous, Momentary Stim Low, Momentary Stim High

Button 1
Button 2
Continuous HIGH
Momentary HIGH
Button 3
Continuous LOW
Momentary LOW

DELTA SPORT also has 36 Levels of STIM

These two additional configurations will take the 18 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation and split them into low and high levels giving you 36 levels of stimulation.  

The low and high levels will increase in a linear order.  That means that a low 1 will be lower than a high1 but a low 2 will be higher than a high 1.   This is an impressive spread of stimulation and will allow you to find the right level for even the most sensitive of dogs.

New DELTA replaces our best-selling E-collars

As a general rule, I hate change.  When something works, I don’t like to mess with it.  

The DELTA family replaces the Tri-Tronics Sport Basic / Sport Combo.  The Sport Basic has been our #1 selling dog training collar for seven years running. 

The SPORT BASIC works. They are dependable dog training collars, and people really like them. I know when I ship you one, it isn’t likely to come back because it's built tough and will do the job.

I knew when Garmin purchased Tri-Tronics back in 2011 that the SPORT BASIC would be the first thing to go.  While Tri-Tronics liked to move in a slow and predictable fashion, Garmin likes to revamp its products at a pace that’s hard to match.

The Sport Basic came out in 2006, and has not changed in 8 years. You don’t see that too often from an electronics company.

Garmin thinks two to three moves ahead of most companies, and likes to make it’s own products obsolete before somebody else does it for them.  For example, Garmin GPS units often have a shelf life of months, not years.  Garmin is always improving, and changing, and testing, and trying new things.  

This rapid change has been a bit of a culture shock for many of us in the remote dog training collar industry, but I couldn’t be happier.  

I really like the DELTA and the DELTA SPORT.  -- STEVE


Small rechargeable collar fits dogs as little as 8 lbs.

The DELTA collar is one of the smallest rechargeable collars we have ever seen especially in this range category.  

The DELTA collar is only 2.4 oz which is substantially smaller than the Sport Basic EXP collar at  7.2 oz.

The DELTA collar will comfortably fit a dog as small as 8 pounds but it is designed to be worn by the largest of breeds.

One of the biggest advantages with a small collar is that if you have a big dog and a small dog you can comfortably use the DELTA system in a multi-dog setup with both dogs.

Only One Size of Contact Points

The DELTA collars come with only regular contact points.  They are not removeable.  There is no option for longer probes with the DELTA units.

If you have a really long-haired dog that requires long probes, you will need to look at other options such as the Tri-tronics Field and Pro Tri-tronics unit or other brands.  


LCD Screen

The DELTA transmitter uses a LCD screen to show stim level, button configuration mode, dog selected, and the transmitter battery life.

No Dials to change stim levels

One of the biggest differences in the DELTA units compared to anything Tri-tronics has ever made before is the lack of a dial to change stimulation levels.  Instead of dials, you use keys.

Garmin designers just don’t like dials.  On the DELTA units, they went with keys to change modes and levels.  Keys are similar to button but they are stiffer and have a different feel compared to a button.

The keys are used to turn the transmitter on, change stimulation levels, change from one dog to the next dog, and change correction configurations.

Overall, I am pleased with the design and feel of the keys.  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 I can hear it -- even outdoors.

One-Handed Operation

The DELTA transmitters are designed for one-handed operation.  You have access to every button and key and can change stimulation levels, configurations and dog selection all one-handed.

I can’t stand a transmitter that requires two hands to use because when I'm dog training, my other hand is holding a leash, check cord, or something else.

No-Look Operation

The DELTA transmitters get a mixed score from me on No-look operation.  

When you are only working one dog at a time, the DELTA transmitters are fine for no-look operation.  This gets a little trickier when working multiple dogs.

I prefer a transmitter that allows me to make changes while I keep my eye on the dog.  

For me, dials and toggle switches are easiest to operate without looking, but the DELTA transmitter keys come pretty close for raising and lowering STIM levels.

Since you can feel and hear when you press a key, I can make STIM changes without looking and know where I am the majority of the time.  Just don’t try to make things too complicated.  

It takes some practice to get used to No-Look-Operation, and you MUST stick with a consistent base level so you know what level you are on and which dog you are correcting.

The downside of having a key to change dogs is that there is no way to know what dog you are on without looking at the transmitter.

TIP: To keep things clear in my mind, I always keep my dog selector on the same dog and I always keep my levels the same.  That way I have a base to start on and I can raise the level as needed.  

I always stay on the same dog.  If the other dogs need a correction, I must first change dogs and then make my correction.  Once I am finished making the corrections, I move my dog selector key back to my main dog. This is a pretty simple method but you must stick with it.  

Different Stimulation Levels for Different Dogs

The advantage of the LCD screen over using a dial to select STIM and a switch to toggle between dogs is that you can have a different stimulation level for each dog.  You can’t do this with a transmitter that uses a dial.  

When you have dogs that you work at the same time, but require different stimulation levels, you can make faster corrections using the DELTA Transmitter.

Moving between button configurations

You can change button configurations while the dog is wearing the collar which gives you full access to all the options that the DELTA units have all the time.

  1. The DELTA has 3 different button configurations.
  2. The DELTA SPORT has 5 button configurations (plus the Bark option).
  3. Use the bottom left key to change from one configuration to the next.

Different configurations for different dogs

You can also have different configurations selected for different dogs at the same time.  There is a little upside to this if you prefer to use tone with one dog and vibration with another, but I caution folks not to make the mistake of having three different configurations while running three different dogs.  Keeping up with which dog is which is hard enough, having to remember which button is which at the same time is pushing your luck.

TIP: A really cool option for folks training one dog at a time while your other dogs watch is the Bark Mode option.  Since you can have one collar in a training mode and the other collars in a bark mode, you can silence the barking dogs that are watching the action using the same collar that you train them.  This saves time and cuts down on gear needed in the field.

Something else to know is that you must have the transmitter turned on to put a DELTA SPORT collar into bark mode.  Once it is in bark mode, you can turn the transmitter off and the collar will stay in Bark Mode.

Multiple Dogs: Selecting a Dog

I mentioned it earlier but it is worth pointing out again.  The lack of a toggle switch or a dial like the Sport Basic makes it impossible to tell which dog you are on without looking at the transmitter.  For the majority of folks this isn’t a deal breaker, but you need to be aware of it.  The last thing you want to do is correct the wrong dog.


Another small issue with the multi-dog set up is the order of the collar colors.  The one dog system comes with a Black strap.  The two dog set up comes with Black and Blue and the Three dog set up is Black, Blue and Red.  This is standard for a Tri-tronic system.

The difference is the order in how you select the dogs from the transmitter.  The middle dog on the screen is Black.  The right dog is Red and the left dog is Blue.

So the order is Blue, Black, Red.  There really isn’t an issue unless you are running in a two dog mode.  

If you buy a one dog system then you keep it in the middle position - Black.

If you have a three dog system then it's no big deal.

In a two dog system you will have Blue and Black collars.  If you use Black as your main dog and Blue as your second, you will have to scroll through Red to get to Black.  The selector moves to the right so if you start on black, you have to go through Red to get to Blue.  Not really a big deal but it’s there.

The simple solution is to use Blue as your main dog.  If you need to go to Dog two, press the dog selector key once and it moves to black.  Hit it again to go to Red (No Dog on a two dog system) and then again to go to Blue.

Accidentally Changing Correction Configurations

While I love the fact that you have access to all of the stimulation options on both DELTA Units from the transmitter and you can change them as needed, you need to be aware that you can also change them and not know it.

It isn’t easy to do and I have not really experienced it in the field, but until I got completely comfortable with all the keys, I hit the wrong one a few times.

In the same way that you can’t tell which dog you are on without looking at the transmitter, you can’t tell if you are in a different Correction Configuration without looking at the screen.

It’s not a deal breaker, but you need to be aware of it and spend some time with the remote and get comfortable with what key does what.


Both DELTA units offer continuous and momentary stimulation.

  1. DELTA has 18 levels of STIM
  2. DELTA SPORT has up to 36 levels of STIM

Both have BOTH Vibration and Tone

The DELTA units are the first Garmin/Tri-Tronics system to offer both a vibration and  standard tone beep in the same system.  The tone / vibration combination gives folks two non-stim training options.

Teach multiple silent commands using a combination of tone and vibration. Work an entire field moving your dog back and forth without ever making a sound.

  1. Teach your retriever to sit with tone and to recall with vibration.
  2. Teach your pheasant dog to quarter on vibration and to recall on tone.
  3. Use Vibration as a warning and Tone as a praise command.
  4. Use Vibration as a warning and Tone as a silent recall command.

While I am not the biggest fan of using a warning tone or vibe with ecollars, I do understand that many folks want this option. What's nice is that we have a system that ALLOWS you two non-stim features if you want to use them.


Transmitter has an ON/OFF button

Don't worry, you don’t need to be worried about forgetting to turn it off.

The DELTA transmitters have an on/off button.  This is a first for a Tri-Tronics system, and I wasn’t real sure how I would feel about it.  It’s rare to run a transmitter battery down before you run a collar down. If you charge the transmitter every time you charge the collar, you should never have an issue.

While the DELTA Transmitters have a longer life than the collars, I was concerned about what would happen if I remembered to turn my collar off but I left the transmitter running.  Would I come back a few days later to a collar that worked but a dead transmitter.

That’s where a battery run time test comes in.  We always test how long it takes to run a system dead from start to finish.  It’s hard to give completely accurate numbers since how many times you push the button plays into run time, but our tests are designed to cover just “on” time.

We charge them up and just let them run until dead.  

Battery Run Time  (60-70 hours)

COLLAR -- Garmin lists the DELTA Collar battery life at 60 hours.  We found it took about 70 straight hours of run time to fully deplete the collar.

TRANSMITTER -- Garmin also lists the transmitter battery life at 60 hours.  That’s a little short.  I have had mine turned on for a month.  That’s a little over 740 hours.  And it’s still showing a full charge. While I don’t recommend that you leave the transmitter on all the time, you don’t need to be worried about forgetting to turn it off.

Battery Charge Time (2 hours)

COLLAR -- The collar will indicate battery power by the light on the front.  Green is fully charged, yellow is needs a charge, red is dead.

TRANSMITTER -- The transmitter has a 3 bar chart that shows the power.  I would not let it get below one bar if it was me.

A dead battery in the collar and transmitter take around 2 hours to charge.

I recommend that you charge both at the same time even if the transmitter is showing a full charge.  

The collar glows RED while charging and GREEN when finished.


  1. DELTA range is a ½ mile (880 yards)
  2. DELTA SPORT range is a ¾ mile (1320 yards)


Only Has a One-Year Warranty

Unlike Tri-Tronics, Garmin DELTA units have a 1 year parts and labor warranty.  Tri-Tronics Field and Pro units still have a 2 year warranty as of right now (May 2013.)  We also have other brands in this price range with longer warranties.  

Which do you choose: DELTA OR DELTA SPORT?

While the DELTA units are in the same family, there are several differences that will make picking between them easy.

What is the same?

  1. Both Units are the exact same size collars and handheld transmitters.
  2. Both units will run up to 3 dogs.
  3. Both units have the same LCD screen.

What is different?

  1. Price
  2. Bark Collar feature (or not)
  3. Transmitter Range
  4. Number of Stim Levels
  5. Number of Configurations

PRICE -- The DELTA SPORT is $219.99. The DELTA is $169.99.  

BARK -- The DELTA SPORT has the Bark Collar w/ Autorise feature - the DELTA does not.

RANGE -- The DELTA SPORT range is a ¾ mile (1320 yards) while the DELTA range is a ½ mile (880 yards.

STIM LEVELS -- The DELTA SPORT the the same 18 levels but you can split those levels into a low and a high giving you a total of 36 levels. The DELTA only has 18 levels of continuous and momentary stimulation.

BUTTON CONFIGURATIONS  -- The DELTA has 3 different button configurations. The DELTA SPORT has 2 additional button configurations.  These two setups allow you to have a low stim level and a high stim level.  This takes the 18 levels and splits it into 36 levels.  While the bottom level and the top level are the same, this gives you more levels in between.  Perfect for even the most sensitive dog.

Everything else is the same. So which one do you buy?

If you don't need the bark collar, the DELTA is fine for most folks. The DELTA has a wide-enough range of stim levels and is an excellent dog training collar. The DELTA is also $40 cheaper than the SPORT BASIC which it's replacing.

With the DELTA SPORT you get a pretty awesome training collar for $219.99 and the bark collar is free. Or you can say you get a rechargeable Bark Collar for $99.99 and a pretty awesome training collar for $150. It’s very competitive price-wise.  It’d be tricky to get as good of an e-collar with a good bark collar for less money.


  • DELTA product page
  • DELTA SPORT product page

  • DELTA SPORT has a built in Bark Collar

    Having a bark collar built inside a remote training collar is pretty neat and has several upsides.   We get many requests for this feature and I expect it is going to be very popular.

    From the transmitter, change the mode from a training collar to a bark collar -- train one dog, keep others quiet

    The DELTA SPORT includes a bark collar option as an additional correction configuration.

    To change your DELTA SPORT into a bark collar, simply move the training mode selection key to the image of the barking dog and your collar turns into a bark collar.

    AUTO RISE -- The DELTA SPORT Bark Collar uses the same Autorise feature that is included in the new Garmin Bark Limiters.  Unlike the Garmin Bark Limiters, the DELTA SPORT does not have a Bark Vibration option or the direct set level feature.  

    In Bark Mode, you can not make stimulation corrections, but you can move back into any of the 5 correction configurations at a distance if you need to make corrections while the dog is wearing the collar.

    Built-in Bark Collar Pros and Cons

    Pros of having a built-in bark collar

    1. One less piece of gear to worry with
    2. Switch from training mode to no-bark mode and back from the transmitter
    1. Stop other dogs from barking while you train another dog
    2. Turn a bark collar into a training collar to prevent problem behaviors.

    Cons of having a built-in bark collar

    1. Sometimes you leave a bark collar on an unsupervised dog
    2. Sometimes other dogs will chew on that dog's e-collar
    3. This bark collar ONLY has auto-rise which won't work on ALL dogs.

    PRO: Switch from training mode to no-bark mode and back from the transmitter

    One of my favorite things about the way Garmin designed this collar is that you can change the DELTA SPORT from one of the stimulation modes to the bark mode at the transmitter without having to do anything to the collar.

    In the bark collar mode you cannot use stimulation.  It’s strictly a bark collar, but you can change the correction mode from a distance.  

    If you’ve got a dog that is out in the backyard and you want to keep his barking under control, just leave it in Bark Mode. Say your dog decides to start digging in your flower bed.  The trick will be to catch him in the act and change the mode of your transmitter to one of the 5 stimulation modes.  When he starts digging, you make the necessary corrections to stop the digging. As soon as he’s stopped digging and backed away from the flower bed, you can change your mode back on your handheld and put your collar into bark collar mode.  All of this can be done from inside the house.  You just need to be able to see him so you know when to make the corrections.

    That’s pretty cool and it’s something we’ve never had before.  Another company made a combination unit several years ago, but it was not something that you could change from the handheld. You actually had to make a physical change on the collar.  

    That collar was also incredibly expensive.  You were paying a lot more money for a system that had stimulation and a built in bark collar but it was cheaper to buy a decent bark collar and a decent remote training system.

    Now let’s talk a little bit about the downside of this particular bark collar setup.  

    CON: Dogs that Chew

    The first issue is that many folks use bark collars when their dogs are around other dogs.  That’s not a big deal unless you have a dog that likes to chew - and just so you know -- ALL dogs like to chew.  

    I never like to leave an e-collar on an unsupervised dog since they tend to be more expensive than your average bark collar. With the DELTA SPORT collar that really isn’t the case.  A replacement collar will run you $119.99.  While that’s more expensive than the average bark collar (79.99 to $99.99), it’s not an insane difference.

    All that said, keep this in mind if you leave the bark collar on your dog.

    CON: Auto-rise Only

    Auto-Rise allows the unit to automatically increase stimulation levels as your dog barks to find the correct level to stop his barking.  This way you do not have to go through the task of testing levels to see what your dog needs.  It will also increase levels if your dog needs more stimulation in a higher distraction situation causing excessive barking.

    The Autorise feature starts at level 1 when the unit is turned on.  When your dog barks he will get a correction on level 1.  If he barks again he will get a second correction on level 1.  If he barks a third time then the unit will increase stimulation by two levels.  If your dog continues to bark it will get two corrections at the new level before the collar increases two more levels.  

    Once the collar reaches the needed level to get the dog to stop barking, it will slowly lower the stimulation over time.  If the dog barks again at the lower level, the unit will start at that level and then increase as needed.

    The advantage of an auto-rise feature is that the unit can deal with high distraction situations that need higher levels, and then after the barking is over the level will drop.  The next time a lower distraction situation comes up, the unit starts low so that your dog isn't over corrected.

    CON: Autorise works for MOST but not ALL dogs

    I have had great success with this type of feature in other brands of bark collars. The majority of my dogs work fine in an autorise mode but I have a few that don't.


    Some dogs are just really driven to bark and they require a high correction level the first time they bark and everytime after that.  These dogs will not do well on an autorise bark collar and will require a bark collar that offers a direct set level.

    The other downside of auto-rise is that with most dogs you are going to have some barking. Everytime you move into the bark mode, you reset the bark collar to the lowest level.  If you have a dog that needs higher stimulation off the bat, then he will have to bark until the collar reaches the level that will stop his barking.

    This mode might not be what your dog needs and you may be better off with a bark collar that has direct set level option.


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