What's The Difference Between a Vibration Collar and A Shock Collar?

What's The Difference Between a Vibration Collar and A Shock Collar?    Published 10-24-2022

Dog collars are helpful in many situations and can help you train your dog to listen to and obey your commands. Collars also work as an excellent device that warns your dog when engaging in unwanted behavior.

There are many dog collars, including spray collars, vibrations collars, and shock collars.

You would have heard of vibration collars and shock collars being used interchangeably. However, they are not the same.

A large dog is shown wearing a collar

What is the Difference Between a Vibration Collar and a Shock Collar?

So, what's the difference between a vibration collar and a shock collar? Here's the answer.

What Is a Vibration Collar?

A small dog is seen wearing a collar

A vibration collar sits against your dog's neck and vibrates when activated through a remote device. Most vibration collars available come with variable settings so that you can adjust them according to your dog's response.

Vibration collars are excellent for extra-sensitive dogs who may find shock collars too frightening or cause confusion.

Vibration collars don't hurt dogs at all, and they are simply a means of getting your dog's attention, like calling out its name.

What Is a Shock Collar?

A shock collar consists of two prongs that sit against the dog's skin. When the owner activates the collar via remote, a mild electric current is sent between the two prongs, delivering a mild shock that causes the dog to feel slightly uncomfortable.

Shock collars come with adjustable settings such as stimulation type and level. You can choose tone, vibration, or shock depending on your preferences and how well your dog responds.

This shock is just a mild irritation and doesn't hurt your dog.

What's The Difference Between A Vibration Collar And A Shock Collar?

Contrary to popular belief, a vibration collar differs from a shock collar, and these two are two completely different types of dog collars.

A vibration collar only has vibration mode with adjustable settings. However, a shock collar consists of tone, vibration, and shock modes with variable settings.

Therefore, a shock collar also has a vibration feature, and a shock collar can also be a vibration collar, not vice versa.

So, a vibration collar and a shock collar are not the same.

A dog is wearing a vibration collar

Vibration Collar Use

A vibration collar is primarily used for dog training, and they offer corrective training for dogs. Below are examples of uses of vibration collars.

  • A remote vibration collar can get your dog's attention as long as he is in the range of a remote. It's beneficial when you go out for walks with your dog. You can quickly get your dog to you even if its attention is elsewhere.

  • A vibration collar is also helpful to get the attention of a deaf dog, even if he is near you but not looking in your direction. The vibration will alert it as it turns toward you.

  • Bark collars are also a type of automatic vibration collar. A bark collar alerts your dog when its barking reaches a certain level. It's excellent to control nuisance barking, especially when no one is at home.

What Makes A Vibration Collar Effective?

A vibration collar is effective because it works by communicating with your dog's body. It works as an excellent communication tool, especially for small dogs.

Shock collars can be frightening, confusing, and stressful for certain small dog breeds. Vibration collars work well by alerting small dogs when they are up to mischief.

The vibration doesn't hurt even the smallest of dogs.

Vibration collars are also effective in training and communicating with deaf dogs. Approximately 10% of dogs in the US are deaf.

However, these dogs are resilient and can easily overcome this disability using effective tools like vibration collars.

Most of these dogs overcome their disability and participate in competitive dog sports such as Obedience Classic, Agility Invitational, and Tracking Invitational. It's all thanks to effective tools like vibration collars.

Vibration collars are effective based on your dog's personality and temperament. That being said, it's safe to use on any dog.

Do Vibration Collars Hurt?

Vibration collars do not cause any pain to your dog whatsoever. They are designed so your dog feels the vibration whenever the device is activated.

The vibration is just enough for your dog to be alert but does not cause pain.

However, one thing to remember when training with collars is that each dog responds differently to these devices. You may have an extra-sensitive dog who finds even a vibration collar too stressful.

Dogs who suffer from anxiety and nerves may also find vibration collars overwhelming.

The reason for this could be the vibration setting you have chosen. Always start with the lowest setting, especially if you have an ultra-sensitive dog.

Pros And Cons Of Vibration Collars

There are more pros than cons to using vibration collars, making them an ideal tool for dogs.


  • It provides remote training collar options.
  • It provides effective training, especially for dogs that are deaf or bark excessively.
  • It doesn't hurt your dog at all.
  • It's entirely safe for use.
  • It's legal almost everywhere.


  • It can be too much for extra-sensitive or anxious dogs.
  • It can cause anxiety in specific dogs.

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Shock Collar Use

Shock collars also serve the same purpose as vibration collars do. Remote shock collars are ideal for stopping unwanted behavior in dogs, such as chasing, lunging, or aggressive behavior.

There are also automatic bark collars that prevent excessive barking. There is a difference between Bark Collar and Training Collar. Training collars have a wider usage than bark collars, which are only used to control excessive barking in dogs.

The difference is that shock collars use an electric 'shock' to alert the dog. The dog feels this shock as a slight discomfort, enough to get its attention and stop unwanted behavior.

What Makes A Shock Collar Effective

Shock collars stop aggressive behavior in dogs, including jumping, biting, and barking.

Hunters initially used it for hunting dogs. The reason is that, in the past, when dogs went hunting, they tended to get so 'into the zone' and be unresponsive to their owner's calls.

Hunters want their dogs back to safety lest they get hurt by a pack of wild animals. Dogs are overcome by new sights, smells, sounds, and the sense that they get zoned out.

The shock collar, when activated, brings them back to their senses and leads them to their owners. The electric stimulation is a jolt that breaks the tension and brings the dog's attention back to its owner.

Do Shock Collars Hurt?

Shock collars won't hurt dogs when they are used correctly. Always start with the lowest setting. If your dog responds to the lowest setting, you can stick to it the next time too.

If your dog doesn't respond to the stimulation level, increase it one level up to see if it responds. Keep doing this until you reach the level at which your dog responds to the shock stimulation.

Pros And Cons Of Shock Collars

Shock collars have a lot of benefits when used correctly.


  • It works well in stopping unwanted behavior.
  • It works from a long distance.
  • It has adjustable stimulation modes and levels.
  • It can prevent aggressive behavior.
  • It can even be set only to vibration mode.


  • It can cause some discomfort at higher stimulation levels.
  • It can exacerbate the problem, especially in aggressive dogs.
  • It is illegal in some US states and countries.

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Negative Reinforcement And Positive Punishment

Vibration and shock collars are used with negative reinforcement and positive punishment training techniques.

What is Negative Reinforcement

You give your dog a command like 'sit,' but your dog doesn't respond. Then you activate the shock collar at a low setting. Your dog feels the shock and responds to your command. In the future, your dog will keep in mind to obey your commands because of the shock collar.

What is Positive punishment

Positive punishment is used to stop your dog from engaging in unwanted behavior. For example, if your dog barks excessively, you can use the shock collar to prevent it.

Your dog feels the shock and stops barking right away. Next time, it will avoid barking excessively because of the shock collar.

Alternatives To Vibration Collars And Shock Collars

If the use of shock collars seems intimidating to you, there are many alternatives you can try using on your dog.

The best alternative is to use positive reinforcement. It means praising and rewarding your dog whenever it performs the desired actions. You can give your dog's favorite treat or toy so that it will ensure to show positive behavior in the future.

Choosing The Correct Stimulation Level

Choosing the correct stimulation level is vital when using shock collars. Always start with the lowest setting and gradually increase it until your dog responds to it.

If your dog yelps or winces, it could be in pain. If so, you need to lower the setting.

Regardless of the stimulation level you use, a shock collar should not be used for more than weight for ten hours a day.

What If Your Dog Doesn't Respond?

If your dog doesn't respond to the shock collar, it could be that the setting is too low that your dog can't feel it. Try increasing the level gradually until your dog responds.

Your dog should also get used to wearing the collar before the actual training. Give a few days for your dog to get used to wearing the collar.

Another reason your dog may not respond to the shock collar is that it's not old enough. Your dog should be at least six months old to start training with a shock collar.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Can You Start Using A Vibration Or Shock Collar On A Dog?

A dog should use a vibration or shock collar when it's at least six months old.

How Long Does It Take To Train A Dog With A Shock Collar?

Training a dog with a shock collar could take up to six months. Some dogs can even take up to one year to train completely.

Should A Dog Wear A Shock Collar All The Time?

A dog should not always wear a shock collar as this could irritate its skin. Don't let your dog wear a shock collar for more than eight to ten hours daily.

Final Thoughts

A vibration collar and a shock collar are different in many ways. A vibration collar only uses vibration to warn your dog. A shock collar can use tone vibration or shock at different settings to alert your dog.

Both vibration and shock collars should be used with caution and set to higher stimulation levels. If used correctly, both collars can help train your dog and stop unwanted behavior.

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