Selecting the Right Collar

What's the Difference? Why Can't I just get a $40 E-Collar?

Dogtra 300 (no longer available)

So, you have looked into the use of e-collars, now you are realizing there are an abundance of brands with a wide range of prices. E-collar training, at least done appropriately, has very specific requirements which narrow down the field immensely. This blog, the first in the series, is going to address what these requisites are and I’m going to explain which brands are worth your time and why. Picking the right collar from among a sea of options can be daunting. But this is the most crucial decision and one in which it most definitely does not pay to skimp.

Perhaps you aren’t thinking of doing e-collar training. You have reservations or questions. Maybe you are even wondering what the heck an e collar is. If these apply, or if you are simply looking for more information, please read my blog, “What Are E Collars and Why Do We Use Them?”

In this blog, I want to help you understand the big differences between the e-collars that are available and explain what makes a good e-collar as well as what makes a bad one.

E-Collar Training: What Do You Need From Your Collar?

1. Reliable and Safe Stimulation

This means that when you get a collar you want to know that the manufacturer produces a product which provides a uniform stimulation that is predictable at each level on every collar they make. You also want to know that, even at the highest level, (and contrary to what some trainers will tell you, does not feel good, I will address this in another part of this series) it will never actually physically harm or injury the dog.

2. A Large Number of Incremental, Graduated Levels.

A lot of collars have 100 Levels or more. However, many of them do not pass the test with reliable, safe stimulation. They also do not pass the test of the next requirement in number three. Such a high number of levels may make someone think that the collar is substantially higher in overall capacity for stimulation then a collar that has 7 or 10 levels. And in some cases this may be true, but not many.

The reason that a quality collar has so many levels is because each one provides an imperceptible increase in stimulation. This allows you to find the perfect level without the collar failing to provide enough stimulation or providing too much. When a collar has a limited number of levels, you can’t find the right one for your dog and their particular threshold and distraction level. Your dog may not feel level 1 and 2, then feel 3 but not care, and then 4 is too much. So, instead of doing a low level introduction to teach the dog what all this means, they are either ignoring it or being punished.

3. The capacity to decrease or increase stimulation levels while the stimulation is engaged.

This is essential to a proper introduction of the e-collar. The entire premise upon which we use this device is reliant upon the dog learning, at the lowest level possible, that they control the stimulation. They have the power to dictate when they feel it and what level they feel. There are a lot of things to cover in regards to how we introduce and use an e collar. I will go over much of this in further parts of this series. But, the ability to adjust the stimulation level while it is engaged is critical to the entire concept. Without this ability in your collar, the dog never learns that their behavior and choices control everything.

4. Durability, Overall Reliability, Quality Customer Support/ Warranty Work, and Being Waterproof!

This category alone removes all of the bargain models. I’ve seen them break, shatter, and be ruined by a little bit of water let alone a swim in the lake.

Not All Collars are Created Equal

You get what you pay for. We’ve all heard that old adage. It’s been around for a long time, and for good reason. I am as frugal as the next person, more so than many, but when it comes to certain things, looking for the cheapest deal is never a good idea. You’ll find that e collars are most definitely one of these things.

We have already ruled out the cheaper models which you are likely to find in some stores and on Amazon for $40 or $80. If you see one of these,  run. The astounding thing is that you can get collars which fail in one or more of the above categories, but still cost the same as a quality collar. PetSafe has some collars that are in the $80 range. Both PetSafe and SportDog have units which are close to the price of a good collar, coming in around $110 to $160. Garmin collars cost every bit as much as you will pay for one from the manufacturers whose training equipment meets all of the above criteria.

There Can Only Be One! (or two)

Using the above metrics, out of all the collars and manufacturers available, only two provide a good collar for introduction and use with a dog who has never been exposed to one.

1.       E Collar Technologies

2.       Dogtra

That’s it. No other manufacturer provides all of the necessary qualities. Garmin makes a solid collar, but they fail on providing a large number of graduated levels, and the ability to keep the stimulation engaged while you adjust the level.


You can get Dogtra single dog units from $175 to $250. E Collar Technologies collars run from $179 to $260. I promise you that the difference is noticeable and there is no comparison with lesser collars. The fact is that these two companies provider a product which isn’t even in the same category as any other manufacturer. If you have researched, educated yourself, and decided that an e collar is right for you. I cannot implore you enough to stick with one of these two manufacturers for your e collar training needs. Buy any other collar and you would be better off not using one at all. It’s that important to have all of the above elements.

Choosing the Right Collar for you and your dog

A few extra personal qualifications are reasons why I switched from Dogtra to E Collar Technologies. I do not have a problem using a Dogtra, in fact I still have several older models that I use for the business. Both companies provide all of the necessary features mentioned above. I switched to E Collar Technologies over a year ago and have never regretted it. My reasons for this were simple.

  • I find the quality of e collar Technologies blunt stimulation to be somewhat superior to Dogtra.
  • Dogtra replaced solid, really good, older models (like the 300) with several models that I was seriously unimpressed with. They do have a good collar in both the 1900 and 2300 models. But, after using their other models for some time, I always felt they were a regression as opposed to an improvement.
  • Dogtra charges postage and at a very high rate. This adds up. For any purchase over a very small amount, E Collar Technologies ships postage free.

  • E collar Technologies also has a large number of extremely useful aftermarket products that enhance the use of their product.

  • Lastly, customer service. Dogtra requires you to pay to ship any units back to them for warranty work. E collar Technologies will send you a replacement and a shipping label that you can use to send the old unit back to them. There’s always someone that answers the phone without you having to go through the automated answering system.

E Collar Technologies Mini Educator (our go to collar for 80 percent of dogs from 10 to 100 pounds)
ecollar technology Boss

E Collar Technologies "The Boss" Medium to high level collar

E Collar Technologies EZ Educator

Hopefully this Blog has helped you understand the difference in E collars and giving you the knowledge to make an educated decision. My coming blogs will address how and when we introduce the collar, as well as dig into the specifics of mechanics and use.

Please note that this is NOT a sponsored post or advertisement. We receive no remuneration from any company for advertising or pushing their product. I simply feel this strongly about these companies and their collars compared to every other brand out there. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a registered dealer for both E Collar Technologies and Dogtra. But I do not sell collars. They are included in training packages as part of the program. (I think every person should seek responsible, professional assistance when beginning E Collar training.) Having registered as a dealer allows me to procure e collars at a price that makes it as economical as possible for my clients to obtain this training equipment.

Eric has been helping owners regain their lives and enjoy their companions for 10 years. Eric's experience runs from rehabilitating aggressive dogs, tackling the toughest behavioral challenges, and training service dogs, to training narcotics dogs and hunting dogs. As well as anything in between. A Michigan native, Eric learned his craft apprenticing under two long time trainers in Colorado and went on to teach dozens of other trainers as well as countless pet owners.

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