Is An E-collar Really Necessary?

In conventional training, the e- collar is used as a way to “correct” a dog or apply pressure. Something the dog wants to avoid. It is generally introduced early in training as part of a “whoa” or “stand” command.

The use of an e-collar actually makes training take longer. The dog has to be taught how to avoid the unnatural pressure or pain associated with the e-collar. It’s all part of an obedience command. I define an obedience command as one that makes no sense to a dog and is trained through pressure and repetition. The dog learns to obey the command to avoid the pressure of the collar.

My method is different. It’s natural. I let the bird apply the pressure. In our training, dogs learn steadiness naturally with the Magic Brushpile. After just a few sessions, the dogs choose to “stop to flush” and be steady through wing, shot and fall. I don’t use any pressure or introduce a “whoa” or “stand” command.  I don’t have to, the birds have done that for me. Later, when we introduce a “wait for me” cue with a checkcord, it’s not an obedience command.  With the Magic Brushpile, the dogs have learned that standing steady makes sense. The dog see it as a good thing that can lead to success.

Using or not using an e-collar is based more on a dog’s personality than anything else. If he has more independence than cooperation bred into him, then it is probably necessary.

Our method encourages the dogs to be cooperative. Cooperation leads to success. Being pack animals, they already know this. Many of the dogs and owner/handlers we work with are able to hunt and/or test their dogs at the highest levels without the use of e-collars.


Brad Higgins


About the author
Brad Higgins, professional dog trainer and creator of the unique Higgins Method of dog/handler training.

2 Comments on "Is An E-collar Really Necessary?"

  1. Jerry Kazee says:

    Brad, I have hunted with you, and watch you work dogs. You are one of the very best. I have sent my friend Jack Chang to you with is new German Short Hair (Rusty). He was very impressed, on how you train dogs. Keep up the good work and will see you 4/21/12 with Jack Chang.

  2. I like what you told me last month Brad. You said that one has not learned to train dogs until he/she has trained and finished a dog without using an e-collar. That kind of patience is rare and that is what makes you special.

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