Best Shock Collars

Updated February 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best shock collars

Last Updated February 2019

Training your dog has always been a topic open to controversy. The best way to make the right decision for you is through knowledge and experience that is tempered with personal beliefs and values. If utilized properly, shock collars can be effective tools that not only correct undesirable behaviors but also help keep your pet safe. There are three different types to choose from.

If you want to stop excessive barking, that is not the same collar that would alert your dog to the limits of his territory. A remote-controlled collar that can be triggered by the owner is your third option. The function of a shock collar is never to harm or hurt the animal, instead, it should be used as part of a larger training strategy.

If you'd like advice from an expert trainer along with more detailed information on how these collars work, keep reading. If you're ready to make a purchase, consider one of our favorite options.

 

In the event that other techniques are ineffective, a shock collar used exclusively on vibrate mode could be used to train a deaf/hard-of-hearing dog.

What are shock collars used for?

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 Ellis
EXPERT CONSULTANT

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.


Nicole Ellis  |  Professional Pet Trainer

Types of shock collars

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.

Boundary shock collars

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.”

Remote-controlled shock collars

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.

Bark shock collars

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.

EXPERT TIP

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.


Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

Design

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.

Considerations for shock collars

Design and intended use

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.

Range

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.

Additional features and versatility

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.

Ease of use

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.

EXPERT TIP

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.


Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer
EXPERT TIP

Shock levels and intensity felt by the dog are determined by more than just the controller settings. Tolerance, physical location, fur density and length are important factors to take into consideration.


Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

Performance

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.

Shock collar prices

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.

Under $50

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.

$50 to $150

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.

$150+

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.

EXPERT TIP

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.


Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

Tips

  • 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.

With proper training and positive reinforcement, dogs become eager to please and self-motivated to behave. This is beneficial to both the dog and the owner, who isn’t forced to rely on the threat of punishment in order to retain control.

FAQ

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.

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