How Does a Dog Shock Collar Work? (Explained For Beginners)

Last Updated on July, 2024

Pet owners and many dog trainers use different ways to train and tame their pets. Electronic training devices such as shock collars and electronic bark collars serve this purpose.

Other types of dog collars are the pinch collar, receiver collar, bark collar and early collars. These devices are also used in police dog training.

Training your pet helps them from displaying unwanted behavior and helps in pet containment. The use of remote training collars is one of the most effective humane dog training tools, especially with aggressive and stubborn dogs.

Find out how does a shock collar work, so that you can start training your dog with one right away. Soon, you will be one of the many pet owners who are content in training their pets.

Quick Summary

The collar works by emitting electric waves, which are a form of stimulation, and has different intensity levels that can be adjusted.

Shock collars are one type of electronic training device used to train dogs and prevent unwanted behavior.

When used correctly and in conjunction with other training techniques, shock collars can be an effective and humane way to train dogs. It is important to consider factors such as durability, water resistance, and range when choosing a shock collar.

What is a Shock Collar? 

Dog Biting something

A shock collar or e-collar is a narrow band that you can put around your dog’s neck. It is usually battery operated along with a remote control used to control the intensity level. You can use a shock collar to stop your dog from nuisance barking and get your dog’s attention. More on that later on.

These dog collars are also known as zap collars. It works by transmitting small electric waves to the pet’s neck. These electric waves are what is known as “shock.” 

The electric shock is just a stimulant. It merely brings a jolt to the dog. So you are not doing any harm to your dog by using this dog training collar. Shock collars come in varying options. More on this coming up next.

Shock Isn’t the Only Option for Dog Owners

You can choose one of the three options available in these types of electric collars. You can opt to trigger a static shock, vibration, or audible tone.

Your best bet here is to try which one works well with your dog. He might be more comfortable and respond better when using a particular option.

Once you find this out, you should also be mindful of gently utilizing a dog training collar to get your dog’s attention.

Worth reading this guide on “Are Vibration Collars Safe For Dogs“, if you’re going to get vibration collars.

Be Mindful of the Shock Intensity When Using a Collar on a Dog’s Neck

Dog With a girl

Shock collar receivers have multiple intensity levels. It allows you to select the simulation level which best suits your dog.

The correct level of intensity is called the “recognition level.” The recognition level is the point when your dog flicks his ears or looks around him.

As a rule of thumb, it is best to start with the lowest setting. This setting allows you to help the dog feel at ease. It also assists you in finding the level that works best for your pet.

Each dog is different from the other. Look at the most subtle indications your dog gives when you start using the dog training collar. Your dog should not panic when you start using the collar on it. It would be best to start training your dog once you have identified its recognition level.

Here is a table on shock collar intensity levels.

No. of beepsLevelDog Temperament

The next question is how a remote training collar actually works.

How Exactly Does a Shock Collar Function?

Girl teaching basic commands to dog

Shock collars work via electric current that passes through metal contact points. Dog owners use a remote control to trigger a static electric shock to the dog’s skin from these contact points.

You can adjust the duration and strength of the electric shock. This signal could be a mild tickling feeling or a shock depending on the intensity level. 

A good dog training collar has a battery that lasts up to 15 days after a full charge. Charging takes a couple of hours, at most.

There is no need to worry about accidentally shocking your dog with e-collars. They come with a lock that prevents this type of accident. 

You might be wondering if shock collars really work the way you expect them to. 

Do Shock Collars Actually Work in the Intended Way? 

In short, YES. Shock collars do work if you correctly use them.

One crucial factor to keep in mind as dog trainers is to be mindful of the environment. For example, you may be training him in your backyard or at the park. The objects in such environments could affect how your dog responds during obedience training. (1)

For example, there are people, vehicles, other dogs, and animals in an environment like the park. These external factors could make the dog feel anxious. Let’s move on to learn how to attach a receiver collar for proper training.

How Do You Use a Shock Collar? 

Shock collar on a dog

You need to attach the shock collar so that your dog feels at ease with it on. To check this, you should be able to insert two fingers in between the collar and your dog’s neck.

When training, make sure to fit the collar a notch tighter. It is because the e-collar should touch the dog’s skin for your dog to feel it work. The furrier, your dog, is, the tighter this should be.

At the same time, ensure that your dog can breathe comfortably with the e-collar. Once the training is complete, you can loosen it up. It is best to keep the collar on for about a week for the dog to get used to it.

It would help if you also remembered to relocate it every few hours.

Make your dog sit in front of you while you are setting the intensity of the e-collar. At first, your dog might feel uneasy and be fidgety when attaching the collar. It is possible as he is not used to having something around his neck.

Why Do You Need a Shock Collar to Train Dogs?

Training a dog with shock collar

E-collars show results fast. You can quickly train your dog and make him feel your authority. You will be able to observe behavior change in your dog after using e-collars a few times.

Dogs are creatures of habit. They remember things very well. As a result, they will recognize that the collar would give out an electric shock when they are unruly. It will make your dog behave the way you want him to.

A shock collar is an affordable option for training your dog. You don’t have to send your dog for costly training sessions. You don’t even have to invest in a dog whisperer.

All you have to do is purchase a remote training collar to use on your dog and make him behave well. You should remember that a shock collar alone does not eliminate negative behavior in your dog. You should also show love, care, and affection towards your pet. (2)

Remember to remove the shock collar once you see an improvement in your dog’s behavior. It doesn’t have to wear the dog collar for the rest of its life.

Safety comes first in terms of training and caring for your pet. Here’s how you can ensure this when using training collars.

How to Use a Shock Collar Safely? 

Here are a few tips on how dog owners should use a shock collar safely.

  • Ensure your dog understands basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘come’ etc., before using these type of collars.
  • Never set your dog collar to the highest setting unless it is a life or death situation. High intensity could cause damage to your dog’s vocal cords.
  • Use a high-quality radio controlled e-collar for best results. 
  • Use various training techniques like positive reinforcement and the dog’s collar.

What to Look for When Buying a Training Collar? 

Dog wearing shock collar

As dog owners, we all want to give the best training to your dog. It means that you want to purchase the best type of dog collar. 

Here are a few things you might need to consider before buying a training collar for dog training.

Durability And Warranty 

A high-quality training collar will be durable. A common misconception is that every shock collar in the market has abbreviated battery life. 

Yet, there are rechargeable electric training collars in the market. Your dog training collar should have a warranty period of at least one year.

Variable Intensity

Most of the electric training collars in the market come with an intensity setting. It is because it should be safe to use on the dog. 

Specific other options like spray collars are not adjustable. So, it is essential to check this feature before purchasing a training collar.

Water Resistance 

Dog running on water

Not all dog training collars are waterproof. You need to purchase dog collars that are resistant to water, especially if you plan on taking your dog to beaches, ponds, or lakes. Even if you don’t take your dog to these places, it is still better to buy electronic shock collars that are waterproof.


The range of e-collars is how much a distance the collar can handle when outdoors. Specific dog collars range up to 2600 feet, which is long. 

Electronic training collars are usually effective up to at least 50 feet away. 


Certain types of shock collars in the market have extensive adjustability. This means that you can expand it to use it on a large dog or adjust it to fit your small pet.

This range is an advantage for the pet owner and is effective on dogs of any size.

Next time you go shopping for electronic collars, remember to keep these factors in mind. Purchasing the best type of dog collar will show effective results on your dog’s reaction and eliminate negative behavior.


Now you have a good idea of how a shock collar works. You need to make maximum use of dog collars while also ensuring your dog’s safety. 

The use of a remote training collar in the proper way helps a dog understand how he should behave. Keep in mind to couple remote trainers with things like positive reinforcement during dog training.

This is when you see the best results in applied dog behavior.

Finally, we hope this information helps you make the right decision for the betterment of your dog. Ultimately, it will ensure the happiness and satisfaction of both dogs and their human companions.




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Thomas Villalpando
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of Dogs Academy. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. He has been featured in MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Sun, Entrepreneur & More. You can find more about him here.

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