The Complete Guide to Shock Collars for Small Dogs

March 18, 2024

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Are you considering using a shock collar for your small dog? This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about safely and humanely using remote training collars with tiny pups.

What is a Shock Collar?

Shock Collar

A shock collar, also known as an e-collar or remote training collar, is a training device that delivers an electric static correction to a dog via two contact points on the collar. The correction is triggered remotely by a handheld device.

Shock collars were originally designed to train hunting and working dogs at a distance. Today they are sometimes controversially used for basic obedience and behavior training for pets. Shock collars are also commonly used with larger breeds for more advanced hunting and tracking training.

When used properly under the guidance of a professional trainer, shock collars can be effective for curbing behaviors like excessive barking, aggression, and chasing. However, misuse carries risks of physical and psychological harm. Many organizations oppose their use in pet training.

Key Takeaways:

  • Shock collars deliver an electric static correction triggered remotely
  • Originally for training hunting/working dogs at a distance
  • Can curb unwanted behaviors if used correctly under guidance
  • Risk of harm if misused; opposed by welfare groups

Are Shock Collars Safe for Small Dogs?

Due to their petite size, using shock collars with small dogs poses some unique concerns:

  • The electric current can have magnified effects on smaller bodies. Even modern collars with low levels may be too powerful.
  • Contact points don’t always make consistent contact on small necks, causing inconsistent corrections.
  • Little dogs have sensitive temperaments and may find the stimulation extremely frightening or upsetting.

For these reasons, most trainers caution against using shock collars on small breed dogs under 15 pounds. The risks tend to outweigh potential benefits. Positive reinforcement is almost always preferable for tiny pups.

Key Takeaways

  • Magnified intensity due to small size
  • Inconsistent contact with little necks
  • Sensitive dispositions easily frightened
  • Not recommended under 15 pounds
  • Risks generally outweigh benefits

Shock Collar Alternatives for Small Dogs

While shock collars come with inherent risks for pint-sized pooches, there are several safe and effective alternatives for curbing unwanted behaviors:

1. Positive Reinforcement

Reward-based training has no dangerous side effects. Consistently praising and giving high-value treats for good behavior helps reinforce what you want to see more of.

Make it clear which behaviors earn rewards to set your small pup up for success. Be patient – it may take more repetition for tiny dogs.

2. Verbal Corrections

A loud, firm “no” lets your dog know when they are doing something unacceptable. Praise them once they stop. Don’t get physical or abusive.

3. Timeout

Placing a wildly behaving dog alone in a boring room for 1-2 minutes teaches them that fun stops when they misbehave. Use an authoritative tone when directing them to timeout.

4. Citronella Spray Collars

Citronella spray provides an unpleasant but harmless sensory correction. It curbs barking without risk of burns or psychological damage. See our review of the StopWoofer citronella spray bark collar for more info on this no-shock barking solution.

5. Training Classes

An experienced trainer can identify the motivations behind unwanted behaviors and provide tailored modification plans. Group classes also teach social skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Positive reinforcement rewards good behavior
  • Verbal corrections mark unwanted behavior
  • Timeout separates dog from fun after misbehaving
  • Citronella spray collars deter barking
  • Training classes provide custom plans

How to Use a Shock Collar Humanely

If employing shock collar use despite general recommendations against it:

  • Consult professional trainer to evaluate risks for your specific dog
  • Use lowest effective setting; discontinue if no response
  • Never leave activated for extended periods or when unsupervised
  • Ensure good contact between points and neck
  • Closely observe for signs of fear, distress or aggression
  • Employ additional positive methods like rewards, not solely corrections
  • Make sessions very short with lots of affection
  • Discontinue immediately if any negative psychological or physical side effects observed

Key Takeaways

  • Consult trainer to evaluate risks
  • Lowest effective setting under close supervision
  • Ensure consistent contact
  • Watch for distress signals
  • Pair corrections with rewards
  • Keep sessions very short
  • Stop if negative impacts observed

Top Shock Collars for Small Dogs

If determined appropriate by trainer assessment, these collars are specially designed for diminutive dogs:

Micro Educator ME-300

  • 20% smaller than other Educator models
  • 100 stimulation levels and 60 boost
  • For dogs 5+ pounds
Micro Educator Me 300
Shop Micro Educator ME-300 on Amazon

Mini Educator ET-300

  • Round remote for one-handed use
  • 100 levels plus 60 boost
  • Can fit dogs as small as 8 pounds
Mini Educator Et 300
Shop Mini Educator ET-300 on Amazon

Dogtra 200C

  • 1/2 mile range
  • 100 stimulation levels
  • For dogs 10+ pounds
Dogtra 200c
Shop Dogtra 200C on Amazon

SportDog FieldTrainer SD-425X

  • 500 yard range
  • Vibration and tone options
  • Fits 8+ pound dogs
Sportdog Fieldtrainer Sd 425x
Shop SportDog FieldTrainer SD-425X on Amazon

For more advanced tracking and training collars, check out our Dogtra Pathfinder 2 and Garmin Alpha 100 reviews.


Is a shock collar really necessary for training my small dog?

No. Shock collars carry inherent risks that likely outweigh any potential benefits for tiny dogs. Positive reinforcement training is safer, more effective long-term, and prevents unintended fallout like increased fear or aggression.

What weight limit is generally recommended as the minimum for shock collars?

Most manufacturers and trainers caution against using shock collars on dogs under 15 pounds. The smaller the dog is, the greater potential for unintended harm.

Should I leave a shock collar on my small dog all day?

Absolutely not. Shock collars should only be worn during active supervised training sessions of short duration. Leaving them on unsupervised or for extended periods risks over-correction and physical or psychological damage.

Can shock collars make dogs aggressive?

Yes. If the stimulation is too intense, incorrectly timed, or the only training method used, dogs may associate it with particular people, animals or environments, causing them to become fearful, defensive, or attack out of perceived self-preservation.

What signs of distress should I watch for when using a shock collar?

Yelping, crouching, tucking tail, shaking, hiding, widened eyes, panting, aggression, loss of appetite, lethargy, anti-social behavior, loss of previously learned behaviors, and elimination issues can all signal psychological distress to discontinue collar use immediately.


Small dogs have sensitive temperaments unsuited for the intense corrections of shock collars. Their tiny builds also increase potential for harm if contact points lose connection. While they can provide behavioral control, the risks tend to outweigh limited benefits for petite pooches. Prioritize positive reinforcement instead for a safe and effective training approach.

If considering a shock collar, have your individual dog carefully evaluated by a trainer first regarding appropriateness. What works for one small pup may be damaging to another due to vast variability in disposition and tolerance. Proceed with ample caution, restraint and conscientious oversight if attempting use despite general guidance against it for tiny pups.