Zen and the Art of Dog

How to Train a Dog With a Shock Collar to Come – Train a Stubborn Dog’s Recall

I can’t tell you how many times Denver, our husky, has run away on us.

Once, he got out of the yard and was nearly hit by a car.

Another time he was on vacation with us and saw a deer. Took off like a lightning strike chasing after the deer (he didn’t catch them).

Most recently, Denver got out of the yard of our new house. I spent about 45 minutes searching the neighborhood for him. This time, when I found him, I called him and he came (after years of training). I was so relieved.

The “come” command is the most important training command you can teach your dog. Whether they are outside and you want to give them some freedom, or they are heading for danger, it’s absolutely necessary. It could save your dog’s life one day.

Many dogs are stubborn when it comes to recall- ours certainly were. We learned to train our dogs the way hunter’s do. We used ecollar training.

Ecollar Training for Dogs

There are many different kinds of ecollars and many different kinds of ecollar training techniques.

We trained our dogs using shock collars with what many trainers call balanced training.

Balanced training involves using positive reinforcement in conjunction with positive deterrence.

This means physically guiding your dog through the command action while using the collar as leverage.

Using Dog Shock Collar Training to Teach Recall

So, how would we teach a dog recall with an ecollar?

You’ll need a 30 foot leash (or longer) and an ecollar.

Here are the steps:

  1. If this is your first time using the shock collar, your dog needs 10 minutes to acclimate to the feeling of the collar. Start off at 0 and slowly dial the stim up to the point where your dog notices it. You’ll see their head jerk to the side or their neck start to jerk.
  2. Find a quiet place (backyard works well, or you can even use your living room) and clip the leash to their collar. Starting off gently, slowly pull the leash toward you guiding the dog to you.
  3. Try this 5 times.
  4. Say come and apply the stim while simultaneously guiding the dog to you. When the dog commits to coming to you (50% of the distance or so) release the stim and say reward with praise and a treat.
  5. Repeat until the dog clearly understands the “come” command in the quiet place.
  6. Find a noisy place with lots of activity. Could be a park, could be outside of a dog park, etc.
  7. Practice step 4. You can also run backwards to increase the distance.
  8. As your dog improves you won’t have to use stim. However, to bulletproof the command you can dial up the stim and pair with a “no” if they don’t obey.

Eventually your dog can be completely off leash. However, be VERY careful about letting them free around other dogs, people, automobiles, airplanes etc. I am careful with our dogs and only let them loose when there are no other animals or people around. You know your dog best and you will know their capabilities and limitations. For example, many dogs just have too high of a prey drive to be totally bulletproof off leash. Only you know your dog well enough to judge the situation.

How to Choose the Best Dog Shock Collars

You’ll want a collar that has several features:

  • High quality. You don’t want to be on a hike with your dog and suddenly the collar doesn’t work
  • Good battery life. Same reason as above.
  • Some collars offer 2-3 levels of stim. You don’t want this. You want a collar with a wide range of stim options to make sure they are comfortable while also receiving the information they need.
  • Vibration option. The best collars also offer a vibration mode. You want this just as an “attention getter” once the dog is trained.
  • Long range. Get a collar with a nice wide radio radius

You can check out my post here for what we recommend as the best shock collar (I also have some more info and training tips about using the collars). Or, you can check the collar out on amazon here.

Anyway, that’s how we trained our dog’s recall.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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