Warning: I strongly believe that E-collar training should never be taught without in-person coaching. Therefore, nothing I share regarding E-collars is intended to be used as a D.I.Y. training program. It is only intended to be food for thought or supplementary to in-person training with Thriving Canine. 


Prerequisite: Before reading this, or any other article that I share on E-collars, please watch this video to get a foundational idea of my E-collar philosophy.


Note: This article is part of the written material for the Thriving Canine E-collar Course

The E-collar is the most advanced, high-level tool there is and should therefore be used with the highest levels of care and skill. Even with the best intentions of doing it right, it is still very easy to make mistakes with the E-collar. So, in the spirit of doing things right, I have provided a list of the 7 most common mistakes in the hopes of helping you avoid making them. 

  1. Using the E-collar with No Guidance
    • This is usually the first mistake, which leads to many of the other common mistakes listed below. 
  2. Using the E-collar with Poor Guidance
    • Guidance from the wrong source, such as a friend, a bad trainer or the internet, can be just as bad as no guidance at all…often even worse!!!
  3. Using the Wrong Type of E-Collar
    • Most people’s first mistake is buying a cheap one but even some of the high-end collars are less than ideal for what we do at Thriving Canine.
    • We only use Dogtra or E-collar Technologies because they are high quality and we are familiar with them. 
  4. Creating Collar Wiseness 
    • Making the dog aware of the transmitter and/or receiver
    • Putting the collar on and using it right away
    • Pointing the transmitter at the dog to threaten them 
    • Being too obvious that you are holding the transmitter and pushing the button 
    • Avoid collar wiseness by having the dog wear the collar for several hours every day (without it being turned on) for at least a week before using it.
  5. Freaking the Dog Out  
    • Creating unwanted fear or superstitious associations
    • Putting a collar on the dog and zapping them for some unwanted behavior without any form of collar conditioning
    • Using poor timing
    • Having no familiarity with collar features and using it on the dog anyhow
    • Using unnecessarily high levels 
      • It is very easy to use too high of a level by accident
      • Check the level regularly, particularly if the transmitter was in your pocket, the dial can get bumping very easily. 
      • E-collar Tech – turn off boost and lock the level on the proper setting. 
  6. Using the E-collar Without a Long Line
    • Allows the dog to blow off the collar 
    • Allows the dog to respond inappropriately such as panicking, running away, aggressing toward another dog, etc. 
  7. Using the E-collar Prematurely
    • Lack of prerequisite training before using an E-collar in the first place
    • Hint: Not even owning a long line, or having one that is still in pristine condition, is evidence that the dog has not had the prerequisite training.   

Hopefully you are starting this class with a clean slate. However, if you have used an E-collar prior to taking this class, you may have already made some of these mistakes. If that’s the case, it’s okay, but please be prepared to work overtime because some of these mistakes are very difficult to undo once they have been made. 

Chad Culp – Certified Dog Trainer, Canine Behavior Consultant, Owner of Thriving Canine. 

© Thriving Canine 2022

We offer in-person training in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as virtual consults anywhere in the world.




Thriving Canine University private Facebook group. (please read the rules before joining)

Related Topics

E-collars: History, Evolution and Controversy

Video: Chad’s E-collar Workshop pt 1