Opinions on the right way to choose and use a remote electronic collar for retriever training are as varied as the countless training methods used to create a top-notch waterfowl dog. I’ve been fortunate that my time and experience in retriever training have allowed me to experiment with a lot of different gear. This has helped me formulate some solid opinions about what features are important in an e-collar.
SportDOG Brand® recently asked me to explain the features and benefits I believed were most important in an all-around retriever-training system. Keep in mind that I tried to make my points with the idea that the ideal retriever-training unit could be used for day-to-day training exercises, as well as actual waterfowl hunting.
The first thing I ask (demand, actually) is the unit be waterproof. If you’re going to hunt and train in wet areas, sooner or later your transmitter is going to take a dip. “Water-resistant” isn’t good enough for me, and if you’ve done any duck hunting at all, you know what I’m talking about.
My wants list in this area includes a choice of continuous and momentary (nick) settings via buttons that I can easily feel, even when I’m wearing gloves; the ability to control more than one collar, which cuts down on the amount of gear I have to buy and maintain; and stimulation levels across a wide range to give me versatility in how I train.
Another area of consideration is that the transmitter unit be small enough to easily carry in a wader pocket or on a lanyard around my neck. I also want it to fit my hand well. These two factors, along with the easy-feel buttons, mean that once I get used to the transmitter, I rarely, if ever, need to look down to operate it.
Every hunter wants an e-collar that doesn’t require you to constantly wonder whether you’re about to run out of juice in the middle of a hunt. Rechargeable batteries are with good battery life are key.
Ultimately, the WetlandHunter® 1825 is the e-collar that meets all of my needs. It’s DryTek™ waterproof up to 25 feet, features continuous and momentary stim abilities, along with 8 stimulation levels in low, medium, and high settings at up to a mile of distance, and 40-60 hours of battery life per charge – all in a compact design. One nice touch is that the transmitter, collar receiver, and collar strap are all camouflaged in the Realtree Max-5® pattern.
That’s my story about how I arrived at my decision on which e-collar to use. For you, the bottom line is this: Outline the factors you believe are most important in a retriever-training system, like I did, and then go shopping. And don’t forget to consider price and warranty. Altogether, you’ll have the information you need to make the right decision.