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Basic E-collar Troubleshooting Steps

E-collars are smart training tools and an effective way to control your dog when he manifests extreme behaviors like barking and prey chasing.

If your e-collar works fine, you can quickly use this smart training tool to reinforce commands or stop unwanted behavior immediately.

But, what if your e-collar stops working and your dog is not responding?

If that happens, do not rush to assume that your e-collar is defective. You might have missed a detail, and you only need a quick troubleshooting trick to get your e-collar communicating with your dog again.

So, how do you troubleshoot an e-collar?

You troubleshoot an e-collar by performing an appropriate fix for each issue. Below are 5 steps to troubleshooting an e-collar, going by the most common causes.

Step 1. Confirm Transmitter and Receiver are Turned On

E-collar transmitters and receivers need to be on to function. Some brands use a power button for both units, and an indicator light will flicker for a few seconds before the e-collar is ready for use.

Other brands require you to synchronize the transmitter and receiver using these steps:

  1. Switch the transmitter on.
  2. Set the transmission intensity to zero (0).
  3. Ensure the receiver is off.
  4. Bring the transmitter On/Off red dot next to the receiver red dot. The receiver dot will start blinking fast after about 5 seconds.
  5. Press the transmitter buttons concurrently for a few seconds until you hear a beep confirming the transmission is reaching the receiver.

You also follow this process when your e-collar is in the lost transmitter mode during usage. Although the steps can vary from model to model, this video by the E-Collar Technologies, Inc. is a quick demonstration of the steps:

If doing this does not resolve the issue with your e-collar, the battery is the next probable culprit.

Step 2. Check the Receiver and Transmitter Batteries

E-collars transmitters and receivers work with rechargeable batteries. If the battery of one or both units has a low charge, the two parts of your e-collar will not communicate properly. Consequently, your dog will not respond to the stimulation.

To fix the issue, ensure the batteries have a full charge.

Depending on your brand, recharging can take a few hours. For example, the lithium-ion batteries in the receiver and transmitter of the barkbeyond dog training collar take 4 hours to recharge fully. That’s a guarantee for an entire week before you charge them again.

Some e-collars will have a flashing light when the battery is low. If that applies to your brand, check the indicator and do the necessary if it’s flashing.

E-collar batteries last 3-5 years and may require replacement after. If your e-collar battery is not retaining charge, you need to replace it by following these steps:

  1. Remove the screws at the back of the receiver or transmitter unit as the case applies.
  2. Carefully take out the old battery from the holding compartment.
  3. Unwrap the battery and insert it where you removed the old one. Ensure the polarity terminals are placed correctly (+ve on +ve and -ve on -ve). Misconnecting the terminals can damage the battery.
  4. Remove the cushion/sponge from the old battery and place it on the new one.
  5. Replace the screws at the back of the unit and fasten them.
  6. Recharge the battery fully for the hours specified in your e-collar User Manual.

Step 3. Adjust the E-collar Strap on Dog’s Neck

Step 3. Adjust the E-collar Strap on Dog’s Neck

E-collars have prongs and contact points to transmit stimulation from the collar to the dog. Especially if you use the vibration or shock training mode, your dog may not sense the stimulation if the collar is loosely fit. That’s because the prongs and contact points are not touching your dog’s skin.

Fit your e-collar properly on the dog’s neck to ensure it does not feel too tight. It also shouldn’t be too loose, as the contact points won’t deliver the stimulation.

Here’s a 2-tip guide to properly fitting your dog’s e-collar.

  1. Place the e-collar on your dog’s neck.
  2. Confirm that the contact points are touching your dog’s skin. You can do that by placing your index and middle fingers between your dog’s coat and the collar. If they fit, you’ve properly set the e-collar.

If your dog has extra-long coat fur, you may have to choose between using longer prongs and trimming your dog’s hair.

If the receiver collar and dog skin contact are not the cause of the problem, the next e-collar troubleshooting option points to the stimulation level.

Step 4. Regulate the Stimulation Intensity/Level

Some e-collars have an autoregulating stimulation intensity. For others, you need to set the stimulation level.

Here’s how to set the stimulation level on an e-collar:

  1. Turn off the collar receiver.
  2. Turn the collar receiver on after a couple of seconds.
  3. Press the On/Off button for about 3 seconds until you hear a beep. That means you are setting the lowest range. If you want medium or high range, keep pressing the button until you hear two or three beeps, respectively.
  4. Release the button once you set the desired stimulation level. The receiver will turn off automatically.
  5. Turn on the e-collar when you need to use it. The receiver will function at the stimulation level you set.

The ‘how to change an e-collar stimulation level’ can vary with models. So, check your e-collar User’s Manual for precise instructions.

As a general recommendation, you should use the lowest level of stimulation needed to get your dog’s response and combine that with humane training techniques.

If you are not sure, you can test the e-collar first by setting it to the lowest stimulation level and then exposing your dog to a stimulus. Watch your dog to see if he responds to the stimulation by flapping the ears, touching the collar with the paw, wearing a puzzled face, or stopping the behavior for a while.

If you do not notice any of the responses, set the stimulation to the next level. However, consider that high stimulation levels can irritate your dog and cause aggression or anxiety. Both are counter-productive in dog training.

Dog Training - Basic E-collar Troubleshooting Steps

Only use high stimulation levels as a last option when a dog is aggressive and poses a danger to people or other animals.

Step 5. Check the Stimulation Range

If you’ve checked all the other issues discussed earlier and your e-collar still won’t work, the problem could be the stimulation range.

Some reasons your e-collar can have stimulation range issues include:

  • A damaged transmitter antenna.
  • Improper transmitter handling; holding the area around the antenna.
  • Barriers in the surroundings such as trees, bushes, or structures block you (with the transmitter) from the dog (with the receiver).

The stimulation range and how these factors affect the e-color stimulation range differ from brand to brand.

As an example, the earlier mentioned Barkbeyond dog training collar has an 800m range that isn’t affected by environmental barriers. This means you can comfortably train your dog from a distance without problems.

Final Tip

If you go through these 5 basic e-collar troubleshooting steps, but your training tool still won’t function, check the troubleshooting section on your e-collar manual to see if you missed a detail.

If that still won’t work, talk to the manufacturer about the issue. Usually, product manuals have customer support contacts that you can use to call for help.