Do Vibration Dog Training Collars Work?

Viszla in a dog training collar in a field

A vibration training collar emits a sensation to your dog, much like the vibration of a cell phone. We are going to explore some of the different types of vibration collars, as well as the reasons for using them and proper techniques for getting results with them.

The question of whether vibration dog training collars work or not is dependent on the personality of your dog and the quality of training that occurs with the collar. If used properly, on the right dog, they can be a successful training tool!

There are two main styles of vibration collars for dogs. The first is a remotely activated collar. This collar will emit a vibration sensation when you push the button on the remote control. This sensation can be used as either an attention-getter or as a correction. These collars sometimes offer other responses with the touch of a button, such as a static shock or a tone. While there is much controversy surrounding “shock collars” (also known as electronic collars or E-collars), most people do not feel the same way about using only the vibration option, and there is less controversy associated with them. There are only a few remote collars on the market that only offer vibration and tone options without the static shock option.

The other style of vibration collar does not have a remote control. This style is activated when the dog vocalizes (usually with a bark, but sometimes they can be activated by loud whining).

How Do You Use a Remote Vibration Collar as an Attention Getter?

They can be valuable as an attention-getter for a deaf dog, or for a dog that is too far away from you to be able to hear your verbal command. Since there is not much variation on the type of vibration given with these collars, it is doubtful that you will be able to train your dog to respond in more than one way to the vibration signal. For example, while you can teach your dog to look at you or come to you in response to the vibration, it would be unlikely that you could teach them to sit for one buzz, down for two buzzes, and come for three buzzes. However, if you condition your deaf dog to pay attention to you when they feel the vibration, you can then teach hand signals for the other commands.

To teach with this technique, you will need to teach your dog that the vibration means something positive! If you have a confident, food motivated dog, this should be an easy task! If your dog is naturally fearful of the vibration, you may have to spend more time conditioning them to see the vibration as a positive thing.

Begin by letting your dog feel the vibration either on their paw or somewhere else on their body and immediately praise them and offer a treat. If the collar you chose has different levels of vibration, it is best to start this at the lowest level possible. Repeat this technique several times – press the button on the collar and immediately reward your dog with a treat.

Depending on your dog, you should repeat this at least 10-20 times before moving on to the next step. If your dog is fearful of this step, treat your dog for just looking at the collar in your hand, then try gently touching the collar to the dog’s paw or body (without pressing the button) and treat for that several times. That may need to be the entire lesson for the first day or two with an extremely fearful dog.

Kelpie mix in a vibration collar

Once your dog is comfortable with the vibrating sensation and seems to be anxiously expecting their treat after it, it is time to move on to the next step. Allow your dog to become mildly distracted by something, such as tapping your foot or having someone else in the room make a noise or walk around the room. Once your dog’s eyes are not on you, press the button and wait for them to look at you. When they look at you, immediately give the treat.

What you are trying to teach the dog is that the vibration means they are going to get a treat. As you are working through this step, it is time to start moving the collar closer to their neck area and eventually putting the collar on the dog. Depending on the dog, you should continue working at this level for a couple of training sessions (5-10 minutes at a time) over a few days.

The next step is to increase the distraction in your environment and also increase the distance your dog must come to get their treat. If your goal is to have your dog that is not deaf also be able to respond to the vibration when they are out of ear-shot, it is helpful to add the command “come” as you start to press the button and to encourage them to come to you for the treat with lots of praise. If you are working with a deaf dog, they will not be able to hear your commands or your praise, but sometimes it can be helpful to do that anyway so you have the correct energy and body language.

The above method, when done correctly, teaches your dog that the vibration signal means the command “come.”

How Do You Use a Remote Vibration Collar as a Correction Method?

The vibration collar can also be used as a correction method – similar to an electronic “shock” collar, but with a less severe correction. If you are going to train your dog using an e-collar, you can use the vibration as a precursor to the static correction. Your dog will learn that if they do not respond correctly to the vibration (which would usually follow a verbal command), they will receive the more unpleasant static correction. If you think this method might be appropriate for your dog, please research your decision first and then work with an experienced trainer in person, to achieve the results you want. While this method can work for some dogs, you must do it correctly and humanely.

If you are not using an e-collar for the rest of your training, but you wish to use the vibration collar as a correction, you must pair the vibrating sensation with something the dog does not like. That could be a firm “NO” or other startling noise immediately following the vibration (this is NOT an appropriate method to use with a deaf dog).

In some cases, the dog might naturally interpret the vibration as negative, in which case the pairing step is not necessary. Once your dog knows that the vibration is either not pleasant to them or signals something unpleasant is to follow, you can use it as a correction, much in the same way as you would tell your dog “NO” for jumping on the counter or chewing on your shoes. You can also use it as a correction for not obeying a command, so long as you have spent enough time teaching the dog the command, and you are sure he is choosing to disobey rather than just not understanding. As with any training method, you MUST be fair and consistent!

How Long Does My Dog Need To Wear The Collar ?

If you are going to use the vibration collar as a correction device, there is another decision you must make even before the training steps mentioned above. Do you want to use the collar throughout the dog’s life, or do you wish to have your dog respond to your commands and eliminate certain bad behaviors even when the collar is not on them?

If you want them to respond to your commands and behavior rules without the collar, you will need to condition them to the collar long BEFORE you begin training with it. If you use the collar as a correction the first time you introduce the dog to it, the dog will likely associate the correction with the COLLAR instead of with disobeying your command. That will result in a dog that does what you wish of him when he is wearing the collar, but not when he is not wearing it. There is a simple fix for this, but it takes some time and preparation on your part.

Before doing any of the steps I have mentioned above, you need to introduce your dog to the collar. Put the collar on your dog and offer him a treat or two. Do not take the remote out of the box at this point, and be sure the collar is turned OFF! Leave the collar on him for an hour or two (supervised, of course!) and go about your daily routine, then remove the collar. You will need to do this several times a day for a week, at least. What you are doing is teaching your dog that the collar means nothing other than perhaps an occasional treat. Put the collar on for varying lengths of time and at various times throughout the day.

Please note that these collars should never be left on your dog all the time! Regardless of your dog’s level of training and your method of using the collar, they should NEVER be left on your dog for more than 12 hours at a time, or they may cause damage to your dog’s skin and neck!

After at least a week of conditioning your dog to the collar, you can then begin training your dog with the vibration collar as a correction, which was described above . Hopefully, by this time, your dog does not associate the actual collar with anything, and you will be able to associate the correction directly with the behavior you wish to eliminate.

What About Vibration Bark Collars Without a Remote Control?

The other style of vibration collar does not have a remote-control option. These collars are designed only to be used as a correction method and offer an automatic vibration (sometimes following an audible tone) each time the dog vocalizes.

barking Doodle dog

Again, if you want to eventually have the same results, whether or not the collar is on your dog, you will need to do the conditioning technique mentioned above for at least a week before you turn on the collar.

However, you might want to give that decision a bit more thought in this case. Do you really want to stop your dog from barking all of the time? Or, do you appreciate barking when the doorbell rings or when there is a stranger in your yard? If so, you might want to only use the collar in certain situations where barking is not allowed.

If that is the case, do not do the conditioning exercise. Instead, make it very obvious to your dog that you are putting the collar on and that corrections will follow that for any barking. What you are doing this way is primarily teaching your dog that the “command” of putting the collar on means “no barking now,” and when you take the collar off, barking is allowed again. Again, this method is NOT appropriate for a deaf dog!

It is important to note that you should never combine the two methods of using a vibration collar as a communication tool and as a correction device. That will confuse your dog and will not produce the desired results!

Vibration training collars, much like other training tools, are only as effective as the human that is doing the training. As long as you put the time into training, be consistent, and always be fair to your dog, a vibration collar can be an excellent training tool for certain dogs and in varying circumstances!

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