Part 2: COLLAR CONCEPTS

Price

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    How much should you spend on a dog training collar?

      Find what range fits your application, choose the features you want, and buy the least expensive collar that will do the job. Keep in mind the flexibility of extended range for working/training in different locations and expandability because you might want to train or work additional dogs at the same time

      Pick any price range. We sell electronic dog training collars priced between $99 and $1300. The good news is that there are several nice dog training collars priced under $200. You can get a great training collar for under $250, the SportDOG SD-1800, and you can get the collar I use for under $450, the Tritronics Pro 100 G2 EXP+.

      I prefer equipment that holds up over time under heavy use, and I don't mind paying a little more for it. Some dog training collars are sturdier and will last longer than others. I look at a training collar over its expected lifespan and divide the cost over that time.







    Popularity

    Sales rank is based upon number of units sold. We recommend 7 collars. Just because something is popular, doesn't mean it's the best collar for the job.





RANGE

    How much range do you need in a remote training collar?

      IMPORTANT: Too much range is never an issue, but too little range can be a SERIOUS problem.

      EXAMPLE: Say you have a "yard trainer" on your dog. Then she gets out of the yard and makes a beeline for a busy street a few blocks away, and won't respond to your "HERE" or "WHOA" commands. If you have a SHORT RANGE collar, and it's raining and/or the terrain isn't flat and open, your collar might not work that far.

      MAXIMUM RANGE is based on "line of sight," so to get the full range out of a system there should be nothing between the transmitter and the receiver, and the terrain should be flat and open. This isn't going to happen in most places that we spend time with our dogs.

      Transmitter range is affected by weather, terrain, and the presence of cover, so when you use your training collar in realistic training conditions, the actual, effective transmitter range is somewhat shorter than the maximum range would be in perfect conditions.

      Collar manufacturers take this into consideration when they advertise the range on systems. We test ALL the systems we recommend out by the airport near our warehouse, and ALL the collars we recommend have maximum ranges father than the spec on the box.

      Dog Training Collars By Range

      We sell collars that have maximum transmitter ranges anywhere from 250 yards (1/8th of a mile) up to 2 miles.

      SHORT RANGE (250-300 yards)-- A few of the inexpensive collars that we sell have what I consider really short range. They will work on pets and they are great for yard work around the house, but I would caution you if you want to use them on a working dog in an off leash situation.

      MEDIUM RANGE (800 yards - 1/2 mile) -- As a general rule most folks can get by with a 1/2 mile range collar.

      LONG RANGE (1-mile) -- If you have a big running pointing dog you will need a mile. If you are trying to stop chasing of unwanted game you will want at least a mile.

      EXTRA-LONG RANGE (2-miles) -- Most hound owners prefer the two mile range Tri-Tronics TRASHBREAKER ULTRA G2 EXP+.







STIM -- Ways to communicate with your dog

    A training collar needs a wide enough choice of stimulation levels so that the increase in levels is gradual. This allows you to find the correct stim level for your dog. Most collars have two kinds of stimulation: continuous and momentary. As a general rule, I recommend continuous stimulation for training. The majority of published training methods on the market today use continuous stimulation. Momentary stimulation can be used to correct known commands with trained dogs.

    Continuous Stimulation

      Continuous stimulation allows you to control the length of the correction. With continuous stimulation you can press the button and release it and the stimulation will cut on when you press the button and off when you release it.

      You can also press the button down and hold it down for a longer stimulation. Today's collars have a safety function that will "time out" on the collar when the button has been pressed down for more than 8 to 10 seconds (depending on the model) or until the user releases the transmitter button.

      You hold the transmitter and press the button. The dog receives the corrective stimulation as long as you hold the button down.

    Momentary stimulation

      Momentary stimulation is a quick preset "attention getter" that lasts for a fraction of a second, no matter how long the button is held down.

      On most collars it will cut on and cut off faster than you can press and release the button. You hold the transmitter and press the button. The dog receives the correct stimulation for a few hundredths of a second. This happens so fast, much faster than a human could press and release a button.

    Range of Stimulation Levels

      A training collar needs a wide enough choice of stimulation levels so that the increase in levels is gradual. This allows you to find the correct stim level for your dog. NARROW RANGE OF LEVELS' NOT IN THIS GUIDE: These narrow range systems not for training but only for 'problem solving: 5 levels or less NORMAL - WIDE RANGE OF LEVELS -- A wide range of stimulation which works for training most dogs in most situations. Anywhere from 7 ' 10 levels. EXTRA-WIDE RANGE OF LEVELS ' These collars give you an extremely wide range of stimulation levels giving you the ideal level for training any dog in any situation. Hard-headed dogs OR Sensitive dogs. Example collars: Pro 500, sport combo, what else has a wide range? Anywhere from 18-20 levels.

    Non-Stimulation Communication : Tone / Buzz vs. Vibration

      Many of the collars that we sell have a non-stimulation communication mode. These features can be used to give the dog a warning, give the dog praise, or for silent commands.

      Many of the Tri-Tronics, Innotek, and SportDOG remote training collars have a tone feature.

      HOW TONE WORKS

      You press a button on the transmitter and a musical tone sounds on the collar by the dog's ears. Personally, I like to use tone for "silent commands." You can overlay tone over a known verbal command or a known whistle command. It is very easy to teach "here," "sit," or "whoa" using tone. This can come in handy for the big running pointing dog or with a retriever in the duck blind. I have also had a good many folks with flushing dogs teach them to quarter and turn with tone. Add this to "here" and "sit" and you can completely work a CRP field for pheasants with out blowing your whistle or giving a verbal command.

      VIBRATION

      -- DT Systems, Dogtra, and Unleashed Technology use a vibration or pager feature. HOW IT WORKS ' You press a button on the transmitter and the collar vibrates the dog's neck. Click here to listen to a .WAV of a tone button.

      If you want a non-stimulation warning feature on your collar, I recommend that you look at vibration. It will not cause problems with other dogs and outside sources (telephone, pagers, cars, or microwave ovens) will not duplicate this feature. You can also use vibration for silent commands.

    Things I don't like about NON STIM communication:

      TONE AS A WARNING

      -- I warn folks regularly about the problems when using tone as a "warning." I prefer to teach the dog a command. After he "knows" the command, we add in the stimulation. After proper training when the dog understands the command and chooses not to comply, he does not need a "warning." He needs a correction. Now, he might not need a very strong correction, and that is where the advantage of a low-level continuous stimulation collar comes in. An adjustable stimulation collar allows you to pick the stimulation level that your dog needs for the particular situation or problem.

      TONE IN A WIRED WORLD

      -- One down side to tone as a "warning" is the high number of products in the world today that beep and buzz. I do not like dogs to react when someone's cell phone goes off or they open a car door or the microwave finishes cooking.

      TONE AND MULTIPLE DOGS

      -- The other down side to tone as a "warning," is when you work with multiple dogs. You give dog 1 a tone warning and dog 2 hears it. Now dog 2 thinks he has done something wrong and is about to get a correction and he has no idea why. This leads to paranoid dogs.

      TONE & PRAISE

      -- I also do not like to use tone for "praise." Don't get me wrong, I think praise is the best way to train dogs. I just don't like it coming from the collar. I want it coming from the handler.

      TONE IS A NOT A BEEPER

      Do not confuse "tone" with the "beeper" feature in many of the collars. "Tone" is a quiet sound that can only be heard close to the collar. A "beeper" is used to locate a bird dog. They are very loud and can be heard as far as 400 yards away.

    Stimulation Differences Between Manufacturers

      Of the collars that we sell the lowest number of stimulation levels selectable at the transmitter is 2 and the highest number is 127. Most of the stimulation levels on these products tend to be similar, but they do not number them the same. A level 3 on a Tri-Tronics is not the same as a level 3 on an Innotek, DT Systems, Dogtra or SportDOG collar.

      There is no universal numbering system. Collars with more levels tend to have a wider spread in stimulation. This means as you increase in stimulation levels the difference between one level to the next is more gradual on a collar with more levels and less gradual on a collar that has a lower number of levels.

      The increase between levels on a 6 level collar is going to be more than the increase on a collar that has 20 levels. I find that as you get over 20 to 30 levels in stimulation there is little difference between the levels. On a 100 level collar it is hard to tell the difference between a level 77 and a level 78 and a level 79.

      Keep in mind when we say a collar has 6 levels and this other collar has 15, that the first collar does not go from 1 to 6 and the second collar picks up at 7 and goes to 15 making it a much stronger collar. The high end on most collars is very similar and the low end also similar. The difference comes in the steps in-between.

    Spread

      What sometimes happens on a system that has very few stimulation levels is that you will have a dog that does not feel a particular level but the next level up is more stimulation than he needs and he will vocalize on the higher level. This kind of collar can be used for limited problem solving with this particular dog, but it would not work as a training collar.

      You cannot train a dog if he vocalizes on the low levels of your system or if he does not respond to a low level but over reacts to the next level when you increase the stimulation. In this situation you need to look into a system that has a wider choice of levels with a more gradual increase between the levels. This allows you to find the lowest possible level that gets the result you want.

      Today it is rare to have a collar that does not have a wide enough spread in stimulation levels that you can not find the right fit for your needs, but this is one thing that you need to look at before you purchase and after you get your system inside the 30 day evaluation period.

      When a customer runs into this situation, it is best that they exchange this collar for a collar with a wider "spread" in stimulation levels. This way you now have a collar that has levels in between the level that give you no reaction and the level that cause the dog to vocalize.







Charging System/Batteries

    All of the collars that we sell are either fully rechargeable (transmitter and receiver) or they are a combination rechargeable receiver (collar) and the transmitter uses a replaceable battery (9 volt alkaline are very common) Most of the combination systems work very well and we get from 6 months to a year out of these 9 volt transmitter batteries. Once the battery gets low you can replace it with any leading brand of 9 volt battery. Many of today's remote training collars use Nimh rechargeable batteries. These are easy to use, have extremely long charge lives and do not have the "memory" issues of older rechargeable batteries. Some of the newer systems are now using Lithium ION batteries. Many of the rechargeable collar receivers that we sell can run for 70 to 120 hours uninterrupted between charges. This is great compared to the 8 to 10 hours we used to get out of the old NiCad batteries 10 years ago. When I am looking at a collar I have several issues I consider about batteries - Length of charge time, amount of run time off a single charge, low battery warning, completed charge warning and ease of replacing batteries

    Charge time / run time

      Blah blah blah

    Replacement Batteries

      All rechargeable batteries will wear out over time. We find that all rechargeable batteries last longer the more you use them. The worst thing you can do with a rechargeable system is leave it on a shelf and not charge it. We recommend that during periods that you will not be using your system that you charge it every one to two months. We recommend that you charge your system based on the manufacturers recommendations for maximum battery life. User replaceable batteries can be purchased from Gun Dog Supply for most Tri-Tronics collars and SportDOG collars. You can replace these yourself at home. Most DT Systems and Dogtra rechargeable batteries can be replaced, but must be returned to the factory for replacement. Innotek rechargeable collar batteries are not replaceable. Innotek rechargeable collars will wear out over time and no longer hold a charge. Once this happens you will have to replace the collar or purchase a new system. This is a major design flaw in our opinion.

      Low-end

      User-replaceable batteries -- Blah blah blah

      Better systems

      Extended run time Blah blah blah





    Rapid Charging Systems

      In the last couple of years, battery technology and charging systems have improved drastically. Most of the ecollar manufacturers are moving to Rapid Charging systems. Average charge time is around 2 hours and run time off a single charge can range from 70 to 100 plus hours.

      All Tri-Tronics rechargeable batteries now have this rapid charging system. 2 hours for a full charge and 100 plus hours of run time and are fully user replaceable.

      Tri-Tronics dominates the remote training collar world with it's battery system. The only downside to it is that because I am able to go so long on a single charge, I sometimes forget where my chargers are!

      All Tri-Tronics batteries are self contained water proof parts that are separate from the self contained waterproof electronics.

      This makes them easy to replace (3 to 5 years depending on use) and there is no chance of messing up the waterproofing or damaging the electronics.

      The other major advantage of the Tri-Tronics battery system is that there are no exposed ports for plugs. Tri-Tronics uses a cradle system that uses a contact pad to charge. This means there is no place for dirt, water or grime to get into the unit and you don't need those horrible little "mud plugs" that break off.

      Charge any Tri-tronics collar at any time. You do not have to completely drain the battery to recharge it. 3-way battery charge indicator lights tell you when you need a charge and the cradle lights tell you when the unit is finished charging.

      Some Dogtra systems now have a rapid charge using replaceable Lithium Ion batteries.

      The Innotek IUT collars also have a rapid charge system using Lithium Ion batteries, but remember that these batteries are not replaceable.

      Systems that still use a regular charging system tend to take between 12 and 14 hours to charge and run time can vary from 45 to 75 hours depending on the unit.







What training do I need to use a dog training collar?

    Remote Dog Training Collars are easy to use, and can be very effective dog training tools, but we recommend that you get some instruction whether from reading a training book, watching a video, or working with a professional dog trainer. Talk to folks you know who have been successful with dog training collars.

    Several Remote Collar manufacturers include training information on how to use your collar. Tritronics and SportDOG collars have the best information included with their systems.

    All Tritronics remote training collars come with a FREE Problem Solving manual and most include a FREE Product & Training Guide DVD.

    All Sport DOG collars come with a Basic Training Manual and training videos.

    The information included in Dogtra and Innotek collars is very limited. DT Systems collars do not have any training information included.

    I recommend that you look at our remote training collar books and videos section page if you purchase one of these 3 brands and have never worked with a collar before.

    If you're not sure about how to use a collar, a training book or manual is a MUST if you want to be successful with your dog. See all of our Dog Training Collars DVDs. See all of our Dog Training Collars BOOKS.







Multi Dog Units / Expandable Systems

    Many folks are looking to work two or more dogs at the same time with the convenience of only needing one transmitter. This can be done with a multi dog collar. We sell two, three, four, five and six dog systems.

    A multi-dog system allows you to correct the individual dog by selecting him with either a toggle switch or the transmitter will have separate buttons for each dog.

    You will only correct one dog at a time and you can not correct all the dogs at the same time.

    Multi-Dog systems are easy to use with very little effort. The main goal is to keep from accidentally stimulating the wrong dog.

    To keep up with which dog is which, the collars come in different colors and the transmitters match up with the color at the transmitter.

    I have a simple system that helps me keep up with which dog is wearing which collar. First, I always keep the same collar on the same dog. Next I always put the "hotter" color collar strap (normally red or orange or most brands) on the dog more likely to need a correction. I put the cooler color collar strap (green, black, or blue on most brands) on the dog less likely to need a correction. This way my mind knows who is who.

    On systems that use a toggle switch to change collar selections, I always keep the toggle switch on the "hot" dog that will likely need to be corrected first.

    If I have to correct the "cool" dog then I know that I must first change the toggle switch before I correct the dog. After I am done correcting the "cool" dog I always put the switch back on the "hot" dog. This way I always know which dog the switch is set on without having to look at the transmitter.

    Another problem with multi-dog units is that most times your dogs will need different levels for the exact same behavior (say not coming when called - Dog one might need a 3 while dog two only needs a 1).

    Most multi dog units use the same intensity level selector dial for both dogs. That means if you have your collar set on a high level for your "tough" dog, you will need to lower the level before you correct your "sensitive" dog.

    I tend to keep my multi dog collars set on lower levels and I raise them as needed. When I am done with the high level correction, I immediately lower the stimulation level. I would rather under stimulate a dog that requires a high level than over stimulate a dog that needs a low level. I also like to know what level I am on at all times so I always go back to my preset level when I am done with a higher level correction.







BEEPERS

    Upland Hunting Bird Dog Remote Training collars - Beeper Collar combos

      We carry a number of collars that are designed for specific kinds of dogs and for certain hunting applications.

      Some electronic dog training collars have remote controls that work in combination with a beeper. The transmitter allows you to turn the beeper collar on and off as the cover changes or as your dog ranges out of your sight.

      Most beeper collars can be adjusted to run/point mode - making one beep every 5 to 10 seconds while the dog is moving and then changing to a beep every second when the dog stops.

      Most beeper collars also have point mode only. This means the beeper collar makes no sound while the dog is moving, but switches to "point" mode when the dog stops.

      Click here for our Beeper Collars Buyer's Guide .







MANUFACTURER INFO

    About the folks who make what we sell'

      All of the dog training collars we sell are good collars from manufacturers who stand behind their products: Tritronics, Innotek, Sport DOG, DT Systems, Dogtra, and Unleashed Technology.

      We choose NOT to sell some lesser quality products that you may find in the "Marts" and discount stores and web sites on the internet.

      Many of the training collars offered in the mass market are very limited in range, features, consistency, and reliability. The mass market tends to care more about price than quality, so this is what they deliver. The funny part here is that in many situations you get a substantially better product just by spending a few dollars more.

      We now offer a few lower priced shorter range systems for folks with smaller dogs and with needs that don't fit our typical user. We have carefully selected these collars and give you pretty in depth descriptions listing the realistic uses for these systems.

      We stand behind EVERY COLLAR we sell with our 30-Day RISK-FREE Money Back Guarantee. If you purchase a dog training collar that's not right for your dog, we'll be happy to swap it for a collar that better fits your needs or refund your money.







    WARRANTIES

      The dog training collars that we sell come with a minimum of a one year warranty. Many have longer warranties and several come with lifetime warranties. Some of the lifetime warranties cover parts only. Some cover parts and labor with a service fee. Click here for our Dog Training Collar Warranty Guide.

      Dog Training Collars Warranty Guide

      All of the remote dog training collars that we sell come with a 30 day money back guarantee. Gun Dog Supply covers this period of the product. If you have a problem inside the first 30 days contact us, and we will get it straightened out. After the first 30 days then the manufacturer's warranty picks up.

      Comparing warranties from one company to another is tricky.

      Tri-Tronics and Dogtra have very simple warranties that last for a set period of time (one to two years depending on the product). After that period is over, if your system needs out of warranty service it can be repaired for a fee. SportDOG and DT Systems have "Lifetime" warranties on many of their products. These products are completely covered (parts and labor) during the first year. After the first year, you will have parts covered, but not labor. Innotek products have a one year parts and labor warranty but they require a service fee with warranty repair in the first year (costs are dependent on the processing time and the desired shipping options). Many Innotek products have a "Limited Lifetime Warranty." After one year from date of original retail purchase, they will repair, replace or upgrade your product at a fixed rate based on the component. To me the "Lifetime" concept isn't that different from what Tri-Tronics and Dogtra offer since you will be paying something for the service. The difference is in how much you are going to pay.
      For example - the Tri-Tronics Classic 70 G3 comes with a two year parts and labor warranty. The Tri-Tronics repair price for a Classic 70 XLS out of warranty is $150 (as of April 2009) The SportDOG 2400 comes with a one year parts and labor warranty. After the first year the "Lifetime" warranty has a service fee of $45 per component (as of May 2004) The Innotek ADV 1000 comes with a one year parts and labor warranty. After the first year the "Limited Lifetime" warranty has a fee of 10% to 20% above wholesale cost of the component that needs repair (as of May 2004) Which one is better? Well, that depends on how you look at it. Repair prices will increase over the lifetime of your unit, but wholesale costs and service fees will also go up. Repairing electronic components will always be expensive and if you plan on using your unit for many years (5 to 10 years) you should plan on having to spend some money on it in the future no matter which warranty you go with.
      Also keep in mind that electronics will improve over time. For example if you have a 10 year old Tri-Tronics collar today that needs repair it will run you around $110 for service but because of improvements in technology, you could purchase a much nicer Tri-Tronics collar for $239. I look at warranties as a way to protect the consumer from faulty products and manufacturer defects (both uncommon problems in the remote collar industry)

      REGISTRATION

      We recommend that you register your collar with the manufacturer at the time of purchase. Warranty cards should be included with your purchase. Some of the warranty protections (such as the DT Systems "Lifetime" warranty) require that the product be registered with in 30 days of purchase.

      The following information was copied from the respective manufacturers websites in 2009. We will update this information from time to time, but we do state that warranty information will change from time to time. If you have questions on warranty comparisons we recommend that you check the company websites or call them directly at the numbers provided.

      We have also removed warranty information about products that are no longer made by these companies to save space. If you have questions about older units, give us a call or check with the respective company.

      Most warranty situations will require you to ship the unit to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. We recommend that you ship your collar via a carrier with tracking ability (UPS, FedEx, etc.) and that you insure your collar for replacement value.







    Made in the USA?

      Tri-Tronics is the only major remote training collar that is assembled in the USA. Unleashed Technology is a new company that is making its units in the USA. Dogtra and DT Systems collars are made in South Korea. SportDOG, Petsafe and Innotek collars are made in China.






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