E-Collars vs. Shock Collars & The Common Myths

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You’ve probably heard of people referring a shock collar to the term “e-collar.” But what’s the difference between the two? Are they the same thing, or are they two different devices? Not only that, but there are also a lot of misconceptions surrounding the topic of these dog training tools.

This article will explore “the difference” between e-collars and shock collars and debunk some of the most common myths about these devices.

The Difference Between an E-Collar & a Shock Collar


Chances are you will hear many people, even some dog trainers, say e-collars and shock collars are two different types of training equipment for dogs.

They’ll say that an e-collar, also known as an electronic collar or a remote collar, is a type of dog training collar that uses mild static stimulation. The static is barely perceptible to humans to get the dog’s attention and reinforce commands or correct unwanted behaviors.

On the other hand, shock collars deliver a much stronger shock that is painful and potentially harmful to dogs. The shock is meant to punish the canine and deter them from doing something undesirable, like barking or jumping up on people.

Shock collars are seen as cruel, inhumane, and outdated, while e-collars are seen as a safer, more humane way to train your dog.

But are these claims true?

Are e-collars and shock collars really two different devices?

The answer is…no. That’s not true.

An e-collar is a shock collar. They are basically the same thing and are both remote training collars that emit static stimulation. They just have different names and are called differently by different people.

The History and Evolution of Shock Collars

Dog shock collars were first developed in the 1960s for hunting dogs. Because as you can imagine, when a hunting dog is on the wrong scent while out in the field, guiding them back onto the right track without any corrections is nearly impossible, especially when the handler can’t physically reach them. Not to mention the dog is also at risk of getting lost. So that’s when the idea of shock collars came about, offering a way of correcting the dog from a distance and controlling them remotely.

In the early days of shock collars, they were large, bulky devices that are in the size of roughly a quart milk carton. There’s only one button, one stimulation, and one intensity level that is not pleasant for dogs whatsoever. And that’s how people train dogs back in the days, only relying on punishment and aversive methods. There wasn’t anything particularly gentle back then.

That’s also how shock collars quickly gained a reputation for being inhumane and cruel, and their use was eventually banned in many countries today. In fact, many people today still believe that shock collars are nothing more than torture devices.

However, shock collars or e-collars have come a long way since then and have evolved into small, sleek devices we see today. In addition, they now have multiple intensity levels that allow the handler to customize the stimulations to their dog’s unique personality and temperament. The modern shock collars also have a beep or vibration mode to provide an alternative way to communicate with dogs.

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Police Dogs, Military Dogs, & Sporting Dogs Use Shock Collars

Shock collars are not just used for training family dogs. Law enforcement agencies and military forces also broadly use these devices to train canines for drug or explosives detection, patrolling, attacking, and search and rescue missions. E-collars are also popular among hunters, commonly used to train and communicate with their furry hunting partner to perform a specific task, whether it be tracking, flushing, or retrieving.

And the reason why police dogs, military dogs, and hunting dogs use remote collars is that these tools can provide clear and concise communication, ensuring them to respond to commands quickly and accurately, as they know exactly what is expected of them. These devices also offer one of the most reliable ways to keep canines under control and focused in high-stress situations or highly distracting environments.

The Common Myths & Misconceptions

Now let’s move on to some of the most common myths about e-collars.

Myth #1: E-Collars Are Inhumane & Cruel

One of the biggest myths about e-collars is that they are cruel and inhumane. People often think that the stimulation emitted by e-collars is unbearable and painful for dogs. But this could not be further from the truth.

If used correctly, the sensation that the dog feels is just a tingle. If you’ve ever been to a chiropractor, it feels just like when they use the TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators) units on you. It’s not painful whatsoever.

Don’t trust me? Buy one and test it on yourself. Many e-collars these days are refundable anyway. It’s risk-free. If you’re not happy with it, you can always send it back.

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Myth #2: Shock Collars Are Easy to Use

Many people believe that they just have to put on the remote collar and press the button every time their dog misbehaves, and their pup will automatically learn and do the right thing next time.

However, that’s not the case at all. The fact is if you don’t show your canine the behavior you want, they’ll never learn. Put it this way, if you tell your kid, “Hey, rinse the dishes with water only is not right,” and don’t say anything else, they’ll most likely respond with, “Oh well, then tell me what’s right and how you want me to do it.” It’s the same with dogs. However, dogs don’t communicate the way humans do. So you’ll have to show them what you want.

Shock collars are not as easy to use as one might think. It also takes time, plenty of patience, practice, and precise timing to train a dog properly with a shock collar.

Myth #3: Remote Collars Are Used to Punish Dogs

Another big misconception about shock collars is that they are only used to punish dogs. And people often think the stimulation is harmful and will burn a dog’s neck. In fact, you may have seen people post photos of their canines with red, irritated skin around their necks from wearing shock collars on social media.

Are remote collars really that bad, though? No, absolutely not! As with any other training equipment, they can be misused. The owner has either used it to punish their pooches or has used the device incorrectly.

The stimulation that comes from e-collars is not meant to inflict pain on dogs and should not harm them in any way. If you are using shock collars to punish your pup, then you’re doing it wrong. E-collars should only be used as a communication device to get your dog’s attention and reinforce desired behavior.

Myth #4: Remote E-Collars Are Only for Stubborn Dogs

Some people might think that remote collars are only for stubborn or hard-to-train pooches. However, the truth is remote collars can be used on any dog.

Even the most well-mannered and obedient dogs can benefit from wearing a remote collar during certain situations, such as when they’re off-leash and out in public. This is because there will always be distractions present, and you’ll never know when or what might cause your canine to dart off and ignore your recall.

Remote collars provide a safety net and ensure your pup will always come back to you when called, no matter what, ultimately preventing them from getting into potentially life-threatening situations.

Myth #5: Dog Training Shock Collars Are Not Suitable for Small Dog Breeds

Puppy Shock Collar

Another classic misconception about e-collars is that these devices are not suitable for small dog breeds because the stimulation may be too harsh or intense for them.

The truth is remote e-collars are suitable for dogs of all sizes. The stimulation emitted by e-collars is adjustable, meaning you can easily customize the intensity to match your dog’s size, temperament, and personality.

And as long as you’re not abusing the shock collar and using it to punish your pup, there is no reason why a small dog cannot wear one.

Myth #6: Shock Collars Will Make Dogs Scared of Their Owners

Some people also think that when they use an e-collar or shock collar on their dog, their pup will start to fear them and view them as a threat. This misconception probably comes from the horror stories about remote collars being misused by inexperienced or uneducated owners.

As I’ve already mentioned, if you’re using a shock collar to punish your pup, then you’re doing it wrong. But, on the other hand, if you’re using an e-collar correctly and responsibly, your dog will never fear you. In fact, quite the opposite will happen.

Your canine will learn to trust and respect you more because they know you’re the one who’s guiding them through the right path and ensuring their safety. And this trust and respect will ultimately lead to a stronger bond between you and your furry friend.

Myth #7: Remote Collars Should Only Be Used as a Last Resort

The chances are that these people are probably not familiar with these tools and often see them as a punishment device that administers pain to dogs for a quick fix.

Remote collars are not a silver bullet. They should not be used as a quick fix for bad behavior, and again, I can’t stress this enough, today’s modern e-collars should only be used as a communication device to reinforce things your canine already knows, nothing more. And if you are anything like me, you will put an e-collar on your dog when letting them off-leash, even if they are very well-behaved and will reliably do whatever you tell them to do.

The reason for that is simple. Because I want to have a backup plan to ensure my dog’s safety just in case something unexpected happens. It’s basically like buying a home, car, health insurance, or wearing a seat belt while driving. You’re not likely to need it, but you’ll be glad you wear it or bought it (in the insurance instance) if something bad does happen.

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Wrapping It Up

As technology advances, so do e-collars. Today’s modern e-collars are not the devices they used to be anymore. The truth is, if used correctly and responsibly, e-collars are easily one of the best dog training tools. These devices enable you to communicate with your dog remotely regardless of whether your pup is half a mile or three-quarters of a mile away, which no tools can ever achieve.

But unfortunately, the negative connotations that have historically surrounded shock collars still persist to this day. So, the next time you hear someone say that remote collars are evil and inhumane, set them straight by educating them on the truths about these devices.

Thank you for reading!