January 1, 2009 "Ask Seth"

My 1-1/2 year old dog, Jonas is out of control. How effective are electric collars?

Dear Seth,

My 1-1/2 year old dog, Jonas, is out of control and I am looking into an electric collar to help him learn faster. How effective are these electric collars? Is there a collar that works on both barking and behavior modification?



Electric collars work on the premise that when an undesirable behavior occurs it provides a stimulus that provides a negative response. I have recently looked into these collars myself and realized that they are not a quick fix. I have not found a collar that works on both barking and behavior, but there may be one available. These collars come with behavior medication training that is to be completed by the owner. Many owners think they can place the collar on and the dog will become better in a few days to weeks; however, this is not the case. I feel the best training is positive reinforcement and exercise. If the animal has behavior issues, begin by speaking with your vet about possible options including the collar. Many Vets will have you increase the activity level of the dog by increasing frequency of walks and play. In my experience, this increase allows the animal to use up that wasted energy they have built up while being inactive.

Your veterinarian may recommend a trainer in your area that they have worked with. Trainers can recognize issues with your dog and provide you with exercises that will reduce or eliminate the undesirable behaviors. Trainers usually use dog psychology and positive reinforcement which the dogs are more likely to respond to. Changes can be immediate or take some time, but will always reinforce the dog/owner relationship. Trainers do not only train the dog to behave but they also teach you how to become the “top dog”. If your vet does not have a trainer they recommend, the internet is a great source for locating the best trainer for you and your dog.

Seth Mayersohn, CVT

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