Before you go out and purchase the best hunting dog e-collar, you might want to figure out how you're going to use the thing while hunting!

The blog below is going to explain how hunters like myself utilize an e-collar out in the field. 

Now, there are a lot of great resources out there, and I've spent the last 8 years combing through hours of YouTube videos and reading countless articles on what everyone else is doing. I've also spent several years training with individuals that participate in the NAVHDA program - although I have never personally put my dogs through any of their tests.

Over the past 8 years, I've been training two GSPs (in my opinion the best hunting dog breed out there), and this is what I've learned...

Introducing Your Hunting Dog To An E-Collar

The video below is one I've watched countless times, and one I've revisited over and over to better understand how to introduce my dogs to the e-collar. All in all, I've used these suggestions, along with a few things I've learned in the field, to summarize these key steps:

1. I let my dogs start wearing an e-collar when they're around 12 weeks old; however, I do not use it whatsoever. My main goal is to desensitize them to the collar. If you add an e-collar to a dog, and immediately start using any sort of stimulation, they will immediately associate the two together (They are not dumb). And this is something you don't really want.

2. During the 14-17 weeks time period, I'll utilize a choke collar for negative reinforcement with the e-collar on the dog. Again, I do not use the e-collar yet. 

3. After a week or two, once the dog starts understanding negative reinforcement with the choke collar, I'll slowly start to introduce the e-collar on vibration mode. I feel as though this additional step is a better bridge to stronger stimulation levels. 

4. If the dog continues to progress while utilizing the choke collar and vibration mode, I'll begin simultaneously "nicking" the dog with the e-collar stimulation while utilizing the choke lead. Don't forget to slowly work your way up through the stimulation levels till you better understand what level captures your dog's attention (This is explained well in the video below).

Key Thing To Avoid While Using An E-Collar

Similar to what I mentioned before, I would recommend not using stimulation right after first introducing the e-collar to the dog. In all honesty, you don't want to associate anything negative with the collar.

Additionally, remember to take it slowly with e-collar training. You can always speed up the training as progress occurs, but it's very hard to undo anything that negatively impacts a dog.

Ways To Use An E-Collar For Training

These are the top ways I use an e-collar for training. Of course, there are plenty more, but these are the most important in my opinion. Additionally, I'm listing out a few of my favorite videos for each command.

1. Recall Command

The recall command is one of the most important hunting commands out there, and one that can be utilized at home each and every day.

The video below showcases how utilizing an e-collar can reinforce the recall command.

Additionally, one of my favorite things about an e-collar is the use of the tone feature. This features allows you to do what's called 'silent commands' - meaning you can initiate a command in a non-verbal manner. Keep this in mind when figuring how to choose a hunting dog e-collar.

2. Heel Command

While the heel command can be successfully implemented without an e-collar, the video below is going to showcase how using this tool can help any hunter in their training. 

3. Whoa Command

A lot of hunters utilize several different methodologies for whoa training, but I've found the technique below to be the most effective. 

A good e-collar with some half-hitch training can produce tremendous bird dogs that will whoa in any situation!

How Does An E-Collar Help While Hunting?

Similar to the training situations above, every hunter needs to know how they transfer these teachings to the field. The summary below showcases why an e-collar is a necessity while out hunting. 

1. Missing A Bird - Using The Recall Command

Let's say you're out in the field, the flush happens, the shotgun fires and... you miss! Most dogs, if not trained well, will continue to pursue the bird. Unfortunately, this isn't always the best as dogs might flush the bird again while out of shooting range. 

With the recall command, you're able to get your dogs back to your position immediately if you miss your shot. By doing this, you're able to let the bird land undisturbed. You can then pursue the bird again at a closer range, increasing your chances of success.

2. Leaving A Bird - Using The Heel Command

For those that hunt with two dogs, you might run into a situation where both dogs are on point. While this isn't the worst thing, you're really not putting yourself or the dogs in a good position to succeed.

If this happens, and if your dog is properly trained, you can utilize the heel command (with some stimulation for extra reinforcement) to bring your dog off point and to another location. 

3. Stopping The Creep / Backing - Using The Whoa Command

While this is mostly for young dogs, you might find yourself in a position where your dog goes on point, then they slowly start to creep towards the bird.

To avoid this, and to guarantee a consistent point, I sometimes utilize a belly collar on my younger dog. If at any point I notice the dog start to creep, I'll apply a low level of stimulation to the belly collar to get the dog to stop.

My Final Thoughts On Using An E-Collar For Hunting

Overall, I find that utilizing an e-collar (especially from top e-collar brands) has helped tremendously while both training my dogs and ensuring a safe and effective hunt.

Of course, e-collars aren't going to be for everyone, but I would definitely recommend taking a hard look at this piece of hunting gear and weighing both the pros and cons.

Also, if you're interested in a blog about the Best Upland Hunting Vest we have that too!