Today is all about how to put the shock collar on the dog. If it is too loose, or positioned wrong, the prongs that deliver the shock will make intermittent contact or no contact at all. Intermittent can be bad, because the shock becomes random. The dog has a hard time making an association.
(Advertisement: This is the third installment in my shock collar series. You can find #1 here and #2 here. Also, I wrote a block post over a year ago discussing some of the training myths about using a shock collar. You can read that one here.)
Aside, I had a reader complain about my choice in constantly calling these training devices "shock collars". His (valid) point was that that is not the proper name. Acceptable names consist of electronic collar, e collar, and remote trainers.
The reason I (very purposefully) call it a shock collar is because most people who need to learn about them tend to call them shock collars. If you are a person who calls it an e-collar, chances are good that you already know everything that I have been saying in these posts.
Front Or Side
The purpose of this post is to get a proper placement of the shock collar on your dog. And I have to say that I find this one of the most challenging things. The manuals that come with the shock collars typically state that the collar ought to be positioned with the receiver right under the dog's chin.
When I have tried this position in the past, I have found that some hunting dogs have some loose skin that collects and folds under the chin. Look at the dog in the picture above. Lots of skin hanging around the neck and chin area. As a result, the prongs do not make good contact. Secondly, because of the shape of the closed collar and the shape of the dog's neck, after the dog shakes his head, the collar shifts to the side and is now looser and making poor contact.
Since a head shake seems to dislodge a collar's position and it always winds up on the side of the neck, I decided to put it there in the first place. No folds of skin there, and a head shake does not dislodge it.
One more reason that I like the prongs on the side of the neck...I can put the prongs on the dog's left side today, and tomorrow, I can put the prongs on the right side. This gives each contact point a 24 hour rest to help prevent pressure sores.
Up High Or Down Low
Dog's necks are somewhat shaped like a cone. The diameter is smallest near the skull and widest near the shoulders. I put the collar high on the neck, near the skull. In contrast, if the shock collar is placed lower, the result is that the collar can drift up toward the skull and become too loose to make contact.
When you put the collar on the dog, start up high, close to the skull. Gravity will pull it down ever so slightly and keep it in place on the dog's neck.
If you are anything like me, the first times you put the collar on the dog, you will have it too loose. You will try to stimulate the dog and get no response. It takes some practice getting a good tightness. Don't mark the "right" hole until you have worked at it a bit and have a good feel for how tight to make it.
You should be able to get a finger or two under the collar band, but not much more. If the dog shakes and dislodges the collar, it is too loose. If the stimulation is not working, it is too loose.
When I started at this, I always had it too loose. And there is nothing wrong with that. Work with the dog a bit and it will become clear when yo need to tighten it a notch. Start loose and get tighter is the safest way to proceed.
A Note On Prongs
Most collars come with replaceable prongs of different lengths. With my dog and his somewhat short coat, I have never had to worry about prong length. I recently put my shock collar on Zeke. He has a longer and thicker coat than my dog, and my prongs were just not up to the task. So, keep this in mind...if you would describe the pup's coat as "long, switch to the longer prongs. The longer prongs will affect the optimal tightness on the collar, so, again, don't mark the hole until you've been at it for a while.
That is all for today. Probably more than half-way done. Future topics include:
- Getting the dog used to wearing the collar
- Finding the right level to train the dog
- Some training examples
How about you? Did you struggle with fit of the shock collar? Any advice for those just starting out?
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