Hunting & Training Tips


Hunting & Training Tips

Picking the Right E-Collar

by Tom Dokken

Purchasing your first SportDOG Brand® remote training collar or upgrading from an older model isn’t particularly difficult, but it does require some thought about which features are most important to you and how the collar is going to be used. Thankfully, SportDOG offers enough products that you can easily match one to your specific training or hunting situation. Here are the basic things I discuss with customers who are thinking about making a purchase.

The first and most obvious thing I need to find out is which breed the customer owns. Any SportDOG™ collar can be used with any breed, but certain models have features best suited for retrievers, pointing dogs, or hounds. So, after I understand the type of dog, then I have to find out how that dog is being used. For the most part, that translates to range. So, the next part of the discussion is part question and part explanation. I ask how far away the owner expects to be able to reach his dog, and then I explain how range works.

All SportDOG Brand collars have a designated operating range. For example, the versatile SportHunter® Series is available as a Model SD-825, Model SD-1225 and Model SD-1825. Their operating ranges are ½-mile, ¾-mile and 1 mile, respectively. A ½-mile sounds like a very long distance, but keep in mind that many variables affect how far away the collar can receive a signal from the Transmitter. The stated ranges are based on “line of sight.” That means you can expect good performance at the stated range on flat terrain with no obstacles between the Transmitter and Collar Receiver.

If you have a retriever that you use only as a flushing dog for pheasant hunting, the SD-825 might very well be all you need. But if that same dog does double-duty as a waterfowl retriever, consider some other scenarios. What if you need to get his attention when he takes off after a wing-tipped mallard that glides down in some thick cattails three football fields away from your boat? Because those types of unpredictable situations crop up, I know that I’d feel better having the extra reach of the SD-1225 or SD-1825 at my disposal. My point is that you’re best off planning for the worst-case scenario. There’s never going to be a situation where it’s bad to have more range than you need.

Pointing dogs create a number of variables as well. If the customer tells me he hunts grouse and woodcock with a German shorthair that stays close, my recommendation will be much different than if I’m talking to a dog handler who hunts Oklahoma quail with English pointers. In both cases, however, I could make a strong case for the UplandHunter® 1875, which features 1 mile of range and a remote-operated audible Beeper.

For hound owners, the obvious choices are the models in the 2-mile-range category, which include the ProHunter® 2525 and HoundHunter® 3225. The ProHunter is a favorite of retriever and pointing dog field trialers as well, due to the very long distances and variable terrain in which they run their dogs.

For the hunter or trainer who wants it all, the TEK Series Tracking + E-Collar System is the new standard for keeping tabs on hounds or far-ranging pointing dogs from up to 10 miles.

With the models I’ve mentioned here, plus the many more offered by SportDOG, I can honestly say I’ve never met a customer who couldn’t find a system to match his or her needs. There is one more factor of which I remind customers constantly, and it bears repeating here: No matter which collar you buy, you must take your dog through proper obedience training before you use the remote trainer. If you fail to do that, it’s not fair to the dog, and you will end up frustrated with the training experience.

SportDOG Brand® products come with a training manual and DVD. Reading and watching this instruction, along with using resources such as the training articles on, is extremely important. A remote training system is not magic, it’s only a tool. It takes time and dedication on your part to use this tool correctly for the best results.

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Tom Dokken

Northfield, MN

Dokken brings more than 30 years of retriever-training experience to the SportDOG team. He is well known as the inventor of Dokken’s Deadfowl Trainer, which has become standard equipment for retriever trainers everywhere. He is the owner of Dokken Dog...

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