Dog Training Collar
Remote Training Collars: Communicating from a Distance
What to Know About Wireless Tools
Wireless communication has become common in our lives. We can communicate with our dogs in this tech-savvy way as well. Our pets wear the receiver collar and we manage the hand-held remote. When the button is pushed on the remote, a signal is delivered to the collar that communicates to our dog through sound, smell or touch.
This type of dog training collar has advantages and can be beneficial, but there is no “one size fits all” solution to training our dogs. As with any tool, the key to remote trainers is understanding how, when and if these are appropriate tools for your individual dog.
Remote Training Collars & Reinforcement
Remote training tools can help reinforce the behaviors we want from our dog (such as coming when called), as well as correct unwanted behaviors (such as counter surfing).
1. Similar to how other tools are used, a dog training collar can be an effective way to apply pressure that it is released once a dog complies. Being able to reinforce our dogs by taking away that pressure rewards them for obeying our command.
2. As with some other tools, remote collars can also give us the ability to deliver effective corrections for behaviors we do not want to continue.
Types of Remote Training Collars
1. Spray. These remote trainers deliver a burst of citronella spray toward your dog’s muzzle. They are designed to interrupt and/or correct unwanted behaviors. For most dogs, the spray is startling or annoying enough to deter the behavior.
The spray remote trainers also have a tone feature. The sound can be used to warn your dog that a correction is coming. Once your dog understands that the tone predicts the correction, he may decide to avoid the unwanted behavior without needing the reinforcement of the citronella burst.
2. Static. Static remote trainers communicate through touch. They deliver a sensation that is meant to be aversive enough for your pet to notice and respond without it being painful or too concerning. The sensation is comparable to the startling and unpleasant feeling when touching a metal door handle after walking across a carpet. Adjustable levels let you find the right sensation to communicate with your dog. Static remote trainers are sometimes referred to as “shock collars.” This is a misnomer when describing modern collars that have a wide range of stimulation levels.
Many static remote trainers also have tones. The sounds can be used to mark or identify wanted behavior or to signal that a correction is about to happen for an undesirable behavior. Many dogs learn quickly to respond to the tones, allowing you to fade out the static reinforcement.
3. Ultrasonic. Ultrasonic remote trainers take advantage of your pet’s sensitive hearing with a sound that is beyond the range of humans. They are designed to interrupt and/or correct unwanted behaviors. For most dogs, the sound is startling or annoying enough to deter the behavior. Once your dog understands that the tone predicts the correction, he may decide to discontinue the unwanted behavior to avoid the correction. The system also has a positive tone to signal a reward for good behaviors and a negative tone to signal a correction for undesirable ones.
4. Vibration. Vibration trainers communicate with your dog through touch. They deliver variable levels of vibration that are comparable to a pager.
Some dogs find this sensation to be very startling. In this case, a vibration trainer might be a useful correction for your dog to deter him from an unwanted behavior such as digging.
Other dogs quickly acclimate to the new sensation and become comfortable with the communication. When this is the case, vibration trainers can be useful tools to reinforce the behaviors you want such as walking politely on leash or coming when called.
Benefits of Remote Trainers
1. Flexibility. Remote trainers come in different shapes, sizes and types so you can personalize your communication with your pet. Select the type of remote trainer that delivers the signals your dog responds to best.
2. Distance. Remote trainers let you communicate clearly and consistently with your dog from a distance. This helps your dog understand that your commands mean the same thing even when you are far away.
3. Timing. To train effectively, timing is everything. It is important to deliver meaningful reinforcement at the precise moment the dog is behaving well or poorly. Remote trainers give you the ability to communicate immediately with your dog.
4. Consistency. It is important to communicate clearly and consistently with your dog. With a remote dog training collar, different family members can deliver the same information to the pet. The collars can deliver the same level of touch, sound or smell no matter who is pushing the button on the remote.
5. Predicting Tones. The tones available on many remote collars can be associated with rewards or corrections. You are teaching your dog that the tone is a “marker” or a promise of reward or corrective reinforcement.
Another use of the tones is as a cue for your dog. You can teach your dog that a tone is for a specific behavior, the same way a dog is taught that a word equals a behavior. For example, a specific tone could tell your dog to come to you, just like the word “come.”
6. Support for hearing-impaired dogs. Since static and vibration collars work through a sensation of touch, they can be especially useful tools for deaf or hearing-impaired dogs.
Using Tools Appropriately
When used correctly, a remote dog training collar can expand our opportunity to meaningfully reinforce a dog’s behavior. When used incorrectly, they have the potential to confuse our dogs, causing emotional distress and/or a negative experience with training.
Our job is to teach our dogs lovingly, clearly and fairly. We are responsible for understanding how our dogs learn and choosing the tools that are most appropriate for their individual personalities. Your dog’s temperament and drive should guide your choice of training tools and techniques.