What are Remote Dog Trainers and Collars?

While remote dog trainers remain a subject of controversy, they are extremely effective training tools that can help you solve numerous behavior problems, deter unwanted behaviors and teach your dog to do almost anything.

And contrary to what many people think about them, remote trainers are harmless and, when used as directed, will not inflict any pain to your dog.

When most people think of remote training collars, they associate them with devices that deliver electric shock. And while majority of remote collars do in fact deliver an electric stimulus, it's a far cry from a "shock".

And some collars use ultrasound, spray and vibration instead of electric stimulation.

Learning more about these training tools, including how they work, will help you make an informed decision if this is something that could help you train your dog.

What are Remote Dog Trainers?

Remote dog trainers are training and behavior modification tools that are meant to offer dog owners control over their dogs. But unlike regular buckle collars, all electronic collars are not for everyday use -- they are strictly for training.

Most remote training collars consist of a collar with a receiver that is placed around the dog's neck and a handheld transmitter. While most remote training collars rely on electrical stimulation to deliver corrections, some manufacturers also offer tone and vibration options or a combination of the two.

Remote Dog Trainer

How do Remote Dog Training Collars Work?

Once the dog has gotten used to wearing the collar and the owner has set the most appropriate level of stimulation, remote training can begin.

At the push of a button, the transmitter delivers a radio signal to the receiver which is on the dog's collar. The set of stainless steel probes positioned on the dog's neck then deliver the static stimulation to the dog.

Why do Remote Trainers Work?

Because all dogs live in a world of associations, after several corrections, they will begin to associate the correction with the behavior the dog was displaying at the moment he was "shocked". With time, the unwanted behavior should, therefore, reduce in frequency and eventually extinguish.

In the science of learning theory, this is known as "positive punishment". Basically, the addition of the unpleasant static stimulation will cause a behavior to decrease and stop over time. Therefore, remote dog trainers can be effectively used to stop a dog from digging, chasing, barking and engaging in several other unwanted behaviors.

However, with remote collar training, desirable behaviors may also be reinforced. For instance, if you provide continuous stimulation and stop it the moment your dog stops the unwanted behavior and engages in a better behavior, your dog will associate this better behavior with the removal of the static stimulation.

This is known as "negative reinforcement". Basically, the removal of the unpleasant static stimulation will cause the wanted behavior to increase and repeat over time. Therefore, remote dog trainers can be used to reinforce good choices such as obeying your command, moving away from the boundary of an invisible fence or deciding to ignore a stimulus the dog used to chase.


When using negative reinforcement, it is important for the dog owner to teach the dog the "way out" of the correction. Failure to do this may lead to a dog shutting down in a state of learned helplessness.

If you find the above discussion confusing, this remote dog training page provides additional explanation with several examples.

What Can Remote Training Do for You and Your Dog

Why invest in a remote training collar? There are several reasons. Learning about the advantages of remote trainers may aid you in the decision making process. However, keep in mind the disadvantages, because there are several as well.

Advantages of Remote Training

  1. Remote dog trainers work quickly and can be an ideal solution for busy dog owners
  2. Remote collars allow dog owners to have better control over distance. Many dogs learn that when they are distant from their owners, they may misbehave without any consequences. Static stimulation may put a stop to these unwanted behaviors regardless of how far the dog is from the owner.
  3. Because the static stimulation is delivered remotely, the chances that the dog will associate the correction with his owner are very low.
  4. When used properly, remote dog trainers allow a safe, pain-free way to correct unwanted behaviors.
  5. The collars offer different levels of stimulation to match the correct level of correction with the dog's temperament.
  6. Remote training collars can teach a dog to stop unwanted, dangerous behaviors such as bolting from an unfenced yard, getting too close to rattle snakes or chasing cars.
  7. Remote training may also help dog owners polish their dog's commands by reinforcing good choices.

Disadvantages of Remote Training

  1. Animal advocates and positive reinforcement trainers feel that remote collars are inhumane and negatively affect the bond between the dog and his owner.
  2. There are risks for the development of "superstitious behaviors". Because dogs learn through associations, some dogs may fail to associate the discomfort of the collar with the unwanted behavior. Instead, they may associate the discomfort with some neutral stimulus observed or heard the moment the correction was delivered.
  3. When shock collars are used to punish unwanted behavior, they fail to provide the dog with information of what to do instead.
  4. Remote training requires impeccable timing along with some knowledge of learning theory and dog behavior. It is best to consult with a professional before using a remote trainer.
  5. Dogs may develop skin irritations in the collar area due to the probes rubbing against the throat.
  6. The right intensity of the static stimulation needs to be individualized; make it too intense and your dog may get stressed, make it too mild and your dog may ignore it or even get habituated to it over time.

How to Choose a Remote Training Collar

If you have decided remote training is for you, your next step would be to go shop for a remote training collar.

Make sure you find a collar that is the most appropriate size for your dog's breed. There are many different types of remote dog trainers on the market. For instance, Petsafe dog training collars icon have a variety of different features depending on the model.

The following tips may help you narrow down the choices:

  1. Invest in a waterproof remote collar if you are planning to train your hunting dog in lakes, ponds or marshes.
  2. If you just want a collar that withstands getting wet, then a water-resistant collar will do the job.
  3. If you live in a multi-dog household, look for remote collar packages that come with several collars.
  4. Consider purchasing a collar that uses rechargeable batteries to save some money on battery replacement.
  5. Find the collar that best suits your needs when it comes to distance training.
  6. Look for collars that offer continuous stimulation if you want to train using negative reinforcement.
  7. Remote dog trainers come with different levels of stimulation. Choose the one that best suits your training needs.
  8. For safety purposes, look for a collar with an automatic shut-off safety feature. This prevents your dog from being "over-stimulated" by mistake.
  9. If your dog has a barking problem, consider investing in a remote dog training collar with integrated bark control.

Here is a brief video that provides additional information about remote trainers...

Final Thoughts...

Whether you love them or you hate them, remote dog training collars can be effective tools for training your dog. However, just as with any aversion-based training methods, it is best to leave remote dog trainers as a last resort after other training methods have been exhausted.

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

If you are a new dog owner and want to learn more about dog behavior and obedience training, I highly recommend you read and follow this Secrets to Dog Training guide. It's written by a professional dog trainer and is full of techniques you can use to modify your dog's behavior.


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