E Collar vs Shock Collar vs Invisible Fence vs Bark Collar: Comparison, & When They Might Be Used



For most dog owners, a simple nylon or leather leash, collar and harness kit is enough for training and everyday activities.

However, in some situations, an owner may need to weigh up and compare electronic training devices such as an e collar vs shock collar vs an invisible fence.

These are usually special circumstances where either regular training has not worked, the dog or other animals/humans could be in immediate harm if something isn’t done, and the owner has spoken to a qualified animal expert and/or their vet.

The decision to use one of these devices is ultimately up to the owner (in conjunction with the laws/regulations, and professional advice), and not everyone agrees with their use.

But, electronic training device technology has evolved over the years to become more pet friendly, and some owners have definitely got the results they’ve been after by using them.

Below is a concise comparison of the devices, and an outline of when an owner may choose to use them.


E Collar vs Shock Collar vs Invisible Fence vs Bark Collar


What Are They?

E Collars & Shock Collars

These devices are essentially the same thing, and they are manually operated.

They are a device which contains a collar with an electronic receiver unit, that is operated by someone with a remote control device – usually a professional trainer, or owner.

Contrary to popular belief, an E Collar or Shock Collar doesn’t just administer an electric current.

The good ones usually have one or several modes available – electronic stimulation (short ‘nick’ stimulation, and a longer 5-10 second stimulation), vibrate, or beep/sound.

So, you can train the dog to respond to sounds and vibrations as well.

Their primary function is to train the dog to minimise or stop unwanted or undesired behaviors.

‘Shock collar’ is the old term used to describe these devices that used to be quite basic – delivering an electric shock to the dog.

However, manufacturers and supporters of these devices have now moved to the term ‘E Collar’ because they feel it better represents what the devices do, and that ‘shock’ has a cruel, inhumane and bias connotation to it.

Modern day ‘E Collars’ are not designed to cause pain, but rather to administer a pulsing, tingling or tickling sensation when the remote control handler triggers the device.

Good devices have a range of stimulation levels (different intensities) so that the operator can find the lowest suitable stimulation level for the dog.


Invisible Fence

These devices are automatically operated.

An invisible fence comprises of a transmitter, a wire fence (usually connected to the transmitter) which you bury in the ground, and a collar with an electronic receiver unit.

Once the fence is set up, you do some basic training with your dog to show them how it works.

The fence usually works by the wire detecting when the dog wearing a collar with a receiver unit on it approaches the wire.

When the dog gets into the warning zone, the collar usually emits a beep to let the dog know they are close to the wire as a warning.

When the dog gets to the wire – the collar unit releases an electric stimulation to let the dog know they need to retreat and stay within the wire boundary.

There is usually a range of stimulation intensities to choose from.

Some invisible fences can also be set to vibrate mode instead of stimulation mode.

Some owners report that the stimulation intensity on electric fences are higher than than e collars and bark collars – so they may not be a good option for small or very sensitive dogs.


Bark Collar

These devices are mostly automatically operated, but can sometimes be manual (if they are compatible with the e collar handset of the same brand).

A bark collar is usually either a citronella collar, or an electric stimulation collar.

The citronella collars are usually highly ineffective at stopping barking as they function inconsistently, don’t practically work on some dogs, and the citronella can leak from the collar.

The electronic bark collars work by using automatic technology that detects when your dog is barking sonically, or when their vocal cords move.

After either of these triggers, the collar unit will emit a vibration or electric stimulation of varying intensity.

There aren’t really any perfect bark collars – even the best ones will sometimes not trigger after every bark, and may sometimes trigger when your dog does something other than bark.

The cheap bark collars are quite ineffective, but the more expensive ones have more reliable technology.

They certainly can be successful though in stopping problem barking.


What Are They Used For?

E Collars & Shock Collars

Because these devices are remote controlled, they can be used for essentially any type of training.

They usually have a limit as to how far the remote can communicate with the receiver unit on the collar, so you’d want to check this.


Invisible Fence

An invisible fence or pet containment system is used specifically for teaching the dog or dogs to stay within the wire boundaries you set.

A common example of how they are used is for dogs that want to escape the property or jump the fence in the yard.


Bark Collar

Pretty self explanatory.

A collar that is designed to trigger automatically when your dog barks.


When Might You Use An Electronic Training Device?

Ultimately the decision lies with the owner as to whether they use an electronic training device, or not.

However, you may choose to use one if:

  • You’ve worked on building a strong bond with your dog & you have their trust
  • You’ve undertaken basic obedience with your dog, or advanced training courses to minimise or stop your dog trying to escape your property
  • Once positive reinforcement training has failed to work
  • Once you’ve consulted the advice of a professional dog trainer, and your vet 
  • Once you’ve consulted the laws in your area as to the use of electronic devices on pets
  • Once you’ve done your own research on the case studies of use of electronic devices

Even though some people may not like the idea at first, if the alternative is that time is of the essences and you dog might get run over, stolen, attacked by another dog, attacks another dog, or taken to the pound – which option is going to be better for your dog?

Once your dog has learned the behavior is unnecessary, the electronic tranining collar can usually be removed.

So, they don’t have to be permanent by any means.

If you do use an electronic training device, and you notice it is causing further issues for your dog (physical or mental), you might choose to discontinue use and speak to your vet or trainer again.

Some trainers might recommend some devices only be used in their presence. Qualified trainers usually have specialised knowledge and experience in the use of these devices effectively and safely.


E Collar vs Shock Collar vs Invisible Fence vs Bark Collar: Where To Read More

You can read more about each of these devices in the following guides:


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TheDailyShep.com are not veterinarians, or animal professionals/experts. Information provided is for informational purposes only – it is not a substitute for professional or qualified advice.

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