This topic can often confuse people and it’s normal to find yourself on the fence when it comes to the use of E-collars. Most of you will have many questions like, Are they necessary? Does your husky need one? Which one? Are they cruel? Do they hurt?
This article aims to answer all of your questions about Siberian huskies and electric-collar training.
I will not dive in deep on exactly how to give a training session, but more so on the safe practices of the Electric-collar and whether or not your husky needs one.
What Exactly is an E-Collar? (Electric Collar)
Let’s clarify what an E-collar is as there’s a lot of different types of collars out there.
Electric-collars are collars mounted with an electrical device, usually with two metal blunt prongs that lightly touch the skin of your dog while it’s worn.
You as the owner will have a remote control that can do various things. Some electric-collars have different functions:
- Shock function
- Vibrate function
- Noise (beep) function
The idea of the electric collar is for your dog to eventually associate unwanted behavior with the undesirable feeling of a shock, vibrate sensation or noise.
Let’s take a look at the use of these functions and whether or not they are safe.
The Use of Electric Collars, Are They Cruel?
It depends on the functionality…
The electrical shock function
I do not personally condone or promote the use of the electrical shock feature that many electric collars have. In many countries, these collars are already banned.
When it comes to electrical shocks, we may not realize the damage or discomfort caused by the shock. Many people try to sugarcoat the shock in different ways but the truth is that an electrical shock is painful and very uncomfortable. Training a dog through pain and punishment is wrong and in most cases, creates an unstable, fearful dog.
The vibrate and noise function
On the contrary to the shocking feature, I think that the use of the vibrate and noise functions are excellent ways of training. And many renowned dog trainers think the same.
Making a beeping noise or making the collar gently vibrate will not harm or cause any pain to your dog. Still, these functions should be used responsibly and on limited occasions when carrying out training sessions.
Electric collars are fairly bulky and heavy and should not be used as a regular collar. They should only be used for training exercises and never kept on when you are not there to supervise.
Electric Collars Without The Shock Feature
Like I mentioned above, many countries have banned shock collars already. But electric collars that do not shock, and instead vibrate or make a noise, are still readily available. In the USA you can still buy shock collars just as easily.
If by the end of this article you think you do need some kind of electrical collar, then this is the type I recommend.
If you find an option that does have the shock feature but also offers the vibrate and noise feature, you could go for it, but extra caution should be taken to ensure you do not use the shock feature. Some will have the option to completely disable the shock feature.
Does Your Husky Need an Electric Collar?
Let’s raise some valuable points about whether or not your husky actually needs an electric collar.
For most dogs out there, electric collars won’t be necessary. But it depends on who you ask. Some people promote using them from the get-go and others only recommend using them if conventional training methods aren’t working.
It’s important to remember that there’s no quick-method to successfully training a dog, let alone Siberian Huskies who are notoriously stubborn! If you know that you haven’t really given him much time to learn things yet, then I would personally hold off on the collar, until you have really given conventional training methods a good try and your husky has an understanding of yes and no, and what’s you as the owner deem to be good and bad behavior.
Think about this before getting an E-collar
In my opinion, E-collars are best used with dogs that already have some experience of positive reinforcement-based training.
Many owners make the mistake of throwing on an E-collar and buzzing away, without really taking the time to think through a solid training method. A dog will not learn if he’s confused or doesn’t understand why you’re using the collar.
It’s known that dogs learn the best through positive reinforcement and association. So, you have to use the E-collar in conjunction with that, for it to actually work.
The E-collar itself is literally just a device to startle your dog from the behavior that he was currently engaged in. For example, if he’s barking excessively, you can make the collar vibrate and beep, to suddenly gain his attention, which it will certainly do, but it doesn’t just stop there, you must then have a plan of action to follow up which is actually the most important part. Not the buzzing.
So a good question to ask yourself is, have you already tried training in this style? If so, then an E-collar would likely be a great addition for you to enhance training, and make your efforts more powerful. Remember, that your dog must understand what the e-collar buzz or noise means before it will work at all.
What Do You Want to Achieve With an E-Collar?
It’s good to think about your situation, where you live and what you want to achieve with the E-collar.
Many people say the main goal of an E-collar should be to strengthen the understandings and level of obedience and recall your dog has. So, after some time of using it correctly, you won’t need to use it anymore. The idea is that the commands you use alongside the E-collar training are what eventually takes its place.
But other people use an E-collar to allow their husky to run free, off-leash, and when they seem to get a little too far, they activate the E-collar which tells the husky to stop and come back. Do you live somewhere with big wide open fields or forests for your husky to run in? Or do you live in a city?
I personally think both options are fine. But, in the ideal world, I would verge towards the first scenario, where eventually, your husky has enough obedience to know not to run away. Or run too far away from you. Believe it or not, reaching that stage with a Siberian Husky is possible, despite their love to do what they please.
A positive example of correctly using an E-collar
Let’s run through a positive example of using an E-collar and how one can be used responsibly.
Stopping excessive howling or barking:
An example of using an E-collar to help correct this behavior would be as follows. First, you would need to have an idea of what triggers your husky to howl. As you don’t want him to have the collar on at all times, you would put it on during certain moments of the day, or before certain events (like the postman coming) in preparation to use the E-collar.
When your husky starts howling excessively, use the vibrate or beep function to startle him. It should stop him howling instantly and when it does, follow this up with a command phrase “no barking” or “no howling” then after he remains silent for a couple of seconds, reward him with praise and a small treat. Eventually, after many successful runs of this routine, you’ll be able to use the phrase “no barking” or “no howling” without needing to use the collar. With time, your husky will be less inclined to start howling at all, when the postman comes.
A negative example of using an E-collar
Most negative uses of an E-collar come from a lack of understanding of how dogs learn, as well as plain ignorance on the owner’s part.
You need to have the correct mindset when using an E-collar. Let me run through an example of incorrect use of an E-collar. And I’ll explain why it’s wrong.
An owner takes their husky to the local park and thinks that in order to have better control over their husky, it’s a good idea to use an E-collar. The owner has seen how the E-collar works well to stop dogs in their tracks and how obediently they obey commands after triggering the buzzer, shock, vibrate or beep. So, they go to the park with their husky and let them off the leash with an E-collar on. Their husky starts veering off a little bit too far, so they decide to give their husky a little buzz and call their name. Momentarily their husky stops, but doesn’t turn around. Then, the husky sees a dog even further ahead in the distance and starts going for it. The owner buzzes in panic and it doesn’t work. The husky isn’t coming back and is now essentially out of control. This scenario happens more than you may imagine!
It’s wrong on so many different levels. Unfortunately, the E-collar isn’t a magical wand. Without a previous understanding of what the E-collar means, your dog will not know he needs to come back when it buzzes. Also, the E-collar, in this situation should not be relied upon. E-collars for the most part, only enhance behavior and understandings that a dog already knows. It would be a mistake to think the E-collar is the teacher, it’s still the owner.
In the situation above, it sounds like the husky never previously understood recall or coming back to the owner, and therefore shouldn’t have been let off the leash anyway. With or without an E-collar.
I hope this has helped to understand a little bit more about E-collars and their use. I feel that E-collars, when used correctly, are an EXCELLENT training tool that can enhance knowledge that your husky already has.
It’s extremely important to use E-collars responsibly and I do not promote the use of using the shock feature.
If you have any comments, please write them below and I will get back to you!
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