When used properly, electronic collars can be an invaluable and humane tool for training your pup. Here’s a rundown of some of our top picks.
Using a remote dog training collar extends your ability to communicate with your canine over great distances safely and accurately. I previously discussed how remote training collars are a powerful training tool and how to best get your pup started on that path. If you have reservations about using a remote training collar, that’s a great article to familiarize yourself with the process.
Having said that, if you’re interested in taking the next step with your soon-to-be working BFF, here are a few of my favorite mid-level collars.
Electronic Dog Training Collars: Best Around $250
The $250 price point remote collar market is super competitive. These aren’t professional quality, but they’re still superb training tools for the everyday user.
With these remote training collars, you give up little in the way of functionality. Their smaller size makes them more user-friendly, as professional level collars have the heft of a full-size flashlight. For comparison, the transmitters on these less-expensive remote training collars fit neatly into any pocket, and they’re a joy to carry in-hand.
I’ve found three that I recommend in this range. Any of them will serve you and your pup well. However, there are some pros and cons for each that I discovered after a month using them on hikes and in focused training. So let’s get to it.
Garmin Sport Pro: $249.99
Tri-tronics was a leader in the remote training collar market. Garmin then purchased the brand, but the transition has been mostly good. Garmin helped improve distribution and parts availability. And core users are still involved with development and marketing.
The Garmin Sport Pro is feature-rich — and that may be my only gripe. In addition to the most essential aspects of continuous and momentary stimulation, there are tone, vibrate, and bark limiter features.
Tone and vibrate may prove useful in some training functions, but in my opinion, a bark limiter is unnecessary. Canines already navigate a lot of input when collar conditioning and obedience training. Stimulation when barking may be too much feedback. I subscribe to the K.I.S.S. method of canine training: Keep It Simple Stupid!
- The transmitter (the piece you hold in your hand) is an industrial design work of art. It fits in your hand like a smooth river rock and the location of the stimulation dial is intuitive.
- I love the way that the stimulation levels are calibrated, allowing the user to give the slightest amount of stimulation.
- One transmitter will operate three remote collars. If you are a multi-dog family, one transmitter will allow you to enforce commands for up to three canines.
- A locking feature on the transmitter means you cannot accidentally stimulate your dog.
- A built-in beacon light on the collar activates by the transmitter in your hand. This makes walks after dark safer for you and your four-legged friend.
- Not an uncomplicated piece of technology. Its features require time reading through lengthy directions.
- Black and olive green color. Be sure to not drop this transmitter. I recommend applying a coat or two of high visibility blaze orange paint to enhance its visibility.
SportDOG SportTrainer: $200
SportDOG is a one-stop shop for owners of hunting canines. Its product line ranges from remote training collars to bumpers. And at $200, the SportTrainer is a lot of capability for the money; it is an outstanding value.
My favorite feature of the SportTrainer series is the bright orange color. As a former product developer, I know any camo or neutral-colored accessory is a brand manager’s dream. However, neutral-colored gear disappears when dropped into natural cover. This leaves the owner with one option: purchase another one. As a consumer, I adore brightly colored accessories. High visibility ensures that something will remain in my possession.
Where the SportTrainer 575 series falls short is user interface. The transmitter uses an LED screen, but the buttons to actuate are not as intuitive. If you use it day-in and day-out, you create those movement patterns, and its operation becomes instinctive before too long. However, out of the box, it doesn’t have the same level of intuitiveness the other units exhibited.
- I love the bright color for visibility’s sake.
- Lower levels of stimulation are barely perceptible. Great for sensitive canines.
- Continuous stimulation turns off when the button is depressed for more than 10 seconds. This may be a con for a few pro level trainers, but for the average user, it is a nice fail-safe feature.
- Charged quicker than the other units.
- One transmitter runs up to two collars.
- Most affordable unit of the three.
- User interface is not as intuitive as the other units.
- Transmitter feels boxy when carried.
- You cannot instantly change from continuous to momentary stimulation.
Dogtra ARC Handsfree: $249.99
Every once in a while, a product comes along and legitimately solves a problem. The Dogtra ARC Handsfree is one of those. The “Handsfree” moniker refers to Dogtra’s use of a small elastic band and actuator button that discreetly fits in your hand. Instead of carrying a remote transmitter, you effortlessly carry the Handsfree Remote Controller, while the transmitter sits securely in a pocket.
In structured training situations, the transmitter is always in hand and it’s always adjusted to the appropriate level of stimulation. When I am trail running, hiking, or just walking, that’s not always the case. If my BFF needs correction and I have to take the time to grab the transmitter from a pocket, I am not using it in a timely or effective manner. With Dogtra’s ARC Handsfree unit, that barrier to training doesn’t exist. The smaller remote is much easier to access and applies quick corrections.
- I LOVE the Handsfree Remote Controller.
- The rheostat controller has a virtually unlimited number of settings.
- The unit’s stimulation leans toward the lower end of the scale, which is what most every trainer (and canine) needs.
- Only available as a one-dog model. If you run more than one canine at a time, it’s not the best choice.