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Discipline and behavioral correction techniques are among the most hotly debated topics in pet care, with shock collars ranking high on the list of the most controversial training tools/methods. Nevertheless, many dog owners report success with the responsible use of shock collars, in conjunction with a balanced training system, as a means to:
Stop excessive barking
Curb undesirable behavior
Keep their dogs from leaving the yard or crossing unfenced/unmarked boundaries
Deliver commands and correct behavior from a distance in unrestrained circumstances, such as hunting and field training
As with any training method, shock collars certainly aren't a “one-size-fits-all” solution, and finding the right one for both you and your dog can be a daunting task.
Need a little help? No problem. We've compiled this guide based on expert advice, extensive research, and thorough analysis of the best shock collars available to help you make an informed decision.
At BestReviews, our goal is to provide accurate, informative, and unbiased product reviews. We never accept free samples from manufacturers, so you can rest assured that all of our featured products have passed our team's rigorous selection process and are hand-picked by us.
If you've already done your homework and feel confident that you know what you're looking for, jump straight to our top five picks above to select the most suitable shock collar for your needs. If you're considering purchasing a shock collar and want to learn more about them before you do, read on.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
SportDOG Brand FieldTrainer SD-425
The SportDOG SD-425 boasts an impressive 500-yard range, one of the largest among our top contenders. This wide range is very useful when training working dogs in the field or disciplining dogs remotely in a public dog park. There is no minimum range, so owners of indoor pets can also use the SD-425 remote trainer to curb unwanted behaviors such as furniture climbing, excessive barking, and jumping. We recommend maintaining a clear line of sight with your dog while working remotely in order to avoid confusion with invisible fences and other deterrents.
Shock collars are most commonly used as a form of positive punishment, wherein an electric shock or vibration is applied at the exact moment negative behavior occurs. Levels of intensity vary and are set by the handler according to individual considerations, such as size, weight, and tolerance.
The level of intensity should always be just enough to get the dog’s attention – not to hurt them. When used correctly, shock collars can reduce the frequency of undesirable behaviors or eliminate them entirely.
Nicole has been training animals for over 15 years, from bears and tigers to household dogs. A member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, she has been certified by the American Kennel Club as a Canine Good Citizen evaluator and she focuses on positive reinforcement methods so that training is always fun. Every year, Nicole attends SuperZoo, the largest pet product showcase, to research new pet products from cat litter to electric dog toys and she loves sharing what she finds with other pet parents.
As the name suggests, all shock collars feature a basic shock mechanism, usually with varying intensities, designed to immediately distract your dog, interrupting inappropriate behavior.
There are three basic types of shock collars, each designed for a specific purpose.
These types of collars are used to keep dogs from leaving the yard or wandering beyond a certain point on properties without physical barriers, such as fences or walls. Boundary collars work by emitting a shock or vibration when the dog comes within a certain distance of these “invisible fences.”
Consulting with an experienced trainer on the correct operation of a shock collar will help to prevent the occurrence of unintentional mistakes. Improper usage could cause handler- or location-associated stress and potentially exacerbate the problem you’re trying to fix.
Remote-controlled shock collars come with a receiver (attached to the collar) and handheld transmitter (controller). Corrective responses in the form of a shock, vibration, or beep are activated at will by the owner or trainer.
Designed to minimize barking, these collars are activated by the dog’s bark and deliver an automatic electric impulse or vibration without requiring the handler to be present.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
PetSafe Yard & Park Dog Trainer
The PetSafe Yard & Park remote training system uses a positive reinforcement and positive punishment model. Audible beeps confirm good behavior, and mild to medium electrostatic vibrations correct bad behavior. Both the transmitter and the collar's receiver unit are completely waterproof, and they are suitable for most dog breeds of eight pounds or more. The receiver is exceptionally light, weighing only a few ounces, but it will deliver a noticeable shock/vibration at higher settings.
The very first step in choosing a shock collar is ensuring that the design matches the intended application. If you plan on using a shock collar as a part of field training or as a way to communicate with working dogs, you'll naturally require a rugged, waterproof collar with a higher-than-average range. If you'll be working closely with your dog in and around the house, however, you could probably get by with a less-robust construction and lower range.
Important Note: The specific type of shock collar you use will also require careful consideration. Keep in mind that automatic shock collars, while appearing convenient, have an increased risk of over-correcting your dog.
Shock levels and intensity felt by the dog are determined by more than just the controller settings. Tolerance acquired through prior use, physical location, fur density and length, as well as moisture levels of the dog’s skin are important factors to take into consideration.
Remote-controlled shock collars come with varying ranges, from far-reaching for outdoor use to relatively low ranges that are best suited to home training. Range is an especially important factor when it comes to training hunting and working dogs, as handlers will often need to communicate with dogs from considerable distances.
Many shock collars come with additional vibrate and tone settings that can be used as a warning or as a way to affirm positive behavior. Often, the actual shock setting only needs to be used once or twice before the dog responds to vibrate or tone settings alone. Some users even report immediate success with these alternative settings and find themselves not needing to resort to using the shock setting at all.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Petrainer Remote Dog Training Collar
The Petrainer Remote Dog Training Collar is an affordable and versatile option for budget-conscious dog owners. It has a waterproof construction, three training modes, and a host of adjustable settings. This collar is suitable for both large and smaller breeds and delivers unbeatable value for money – without skimping on extras. At 330 yards, the range isn't exceptional, but it remains adequate for most owners.
For those unfamiliar with shock collars, easy-to-use features are an absolute must. Clearly marked settings and additional controls can reduce the likelihood of unintentionally causing confusion or unnecessary distress.
That said, our pet expert Nicole says it's vital to consult with an experienced trainer before attempting to use a shock collar, no matter how straightforward its operation may appear.
Timing is of the essence and needs to be perfect. Without proper timing, obtaining the results you are hoping for is unlikely and may lead to additional behavioral problems.
When it comes to the cost of shock collars, price can vary greatly. At a glance, shock collars of differing prices may seem very similar, but a closer look usually reveals some key differences.
While many budget shock collars certainly have the ability to deliver similar results with proper use in the appropriate setting, one of the major concerns with products in this price range is durability. Also, shock intensity, even at the highest setting, is unlikely to be anywhere near as powerful as professional-grade collars – although this is a plus for some.
Incorrect timing and intensity levels are common mistakes that can be avoided by consulting with an expert. These will not only render training ineffective, but could cause fear and aggression as well.
Most shock collars in this price range have excellent capabilities and versatile feature sets. However, range may be somewhat limited, making them more suitable for home or closely supervised outdoor use.
Pricier models generally have extended range and increased durability – features that are indispensable for working dogs. Most collars in this price range also come with other sought-after features, such as vibration and tone settings and the option to add collars for more than one dog.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
IPets 100% Waterproof & Rechargeable Dog Shock Collar
The small, sensitive iPets Dog Shock Collar features large, raised buttons which are clearly marked for ease of use. However, we do recommend using a lanyard, as settings are sensitive and may be unintentionally adjusted when carried in pockets. Notable for its gentle shock settings and highly adjustable collar, this is a good option for smaller dogs. An all-in-one budget shock collar, this product nevertheless delivers reliable, waterproof construction for outdoor use and dogs who enjoy swimming.
Using a shock collar in conjunction with balanced training methods is imperative. Without additional training techniques and positive reinforcement, some dogs may quickly become “collar wise,” obeying commands only when the collar is on and reverting to negative behavior once it is removed, leaving owners helpless to control their dogs without the use of the collar. - Nicole
With frequent use at levels that are too low, some dogs develop a tolerance to the static correction mode and may ignore it entirely. Seeking the advice of a trainer is best way to determine the most appropriate setting for your dog’s size and weight.
Avoid using excessively high levels of intensity, as these are likely to cause pain. In turn, the dog could become habitually stressed and fearful – a dangerous and unpredictable state. - Nicole
While all shock collars come with a shock mode, most modern options also feature vibrate and beep settings, which can be used independently of one another.
Q. Will the electric stimulation from a shock collar hurt my dog?
A. A shock collar should never be used at a setting high enough to cause your dog pain. While the shock is designed to be an unpleasant distraction, it certainly shouldn't hurt your dog. When i doubt, use one of the lowest/least-intense settings.
Q. How tight should the collar fit around my dog’s neck?
A. In order for stimulation to be consistent, the receiver needs to fit snug against your dog’s neck. If your dog isn't responding to the signal, try tightening the collar a bit and ensure that the contact points are in place before trying a higher setting. If your dog seems uncomfortable or has trouble breathing, loosen the straps.
Q. How do I know which setting to use?
A. We recommend consulting a trainer on correct usage. As a rule of thumb, you should always start at the lowest setting. At the right setting, your dog should respond with a prick of the ears or a slight twitch of the head or neck. If your dog yelps or shows any sign of physical distress, the setting is too high.
Q. After fitting the collar, is it safe to cut straps that are too long?
A. While this is possible with some collars, others may have the receiver antennae placed within the strap. To avoid irreparably damaging the unit, we recommend carefully reading the manufacturer's instructions before attempting to shorten the collar.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.