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What are the best training collars for stubborn dogs?

The answer depends entirely on what type of training you’re trying to accomplish.

I can tell you one thing, it’s probably not what you think it is!

Read on to learn about the best and worst collars to use on your strong-willed pooch.

What are the best training collars for stubborn dogs? How about the most humane? Read on to find out the answer!

Top Recommendation

FYI, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. 

If you already know you want to go with an ecollar but aren’t sure which one to use, I recommend Pet Resolve for one very important reason- it isn’t just a straight-up shock collar. 

The Pet Resolve collar allows you to use beeps and vibrations as well, making it a humane option when used properly. 

In fact, their latest model allows you to remove the shock option entirely. Take a look at the full overview below in the “Vibration Collar” section. 

Pet Resolve Dog Training Collar with Remote - Trains up to 3 Dogs at Once - Shock, Vibration and Beep Modes - Up to 3/4 Mile Range - Waterproof Electric E Collar
  • FANTASTIC NEW UPGRADE SINCE MAY = 4.7* + EXTRA LONG & 'REMOVE THE SHOCK OPTION' PRONGS NOW INCLUDED + NO STANDBY MODE ALWAYS READY TO GO! is your dog misbehaving and you want a well behaved pet with minimal fuss? The Pet Resolve system is the perfect solution to train upto 3 dogs for a range of desirable behaviors. Don't let your dog get side-tracked by other animals or misbehave in public. Teach your canine companion how to act properly with arguably the best training collar on the market!
  • SUPER LONG RANGE HIGH QUALITY WITH MEMORY; forget other dog training collars which use cheap plastic that breaks when you drop it and are designed for small spaces and yards, our e collar dog training system is of the highest quality and has a super long 3/4 Mile range (1312 yards suitable for hunting dogs) for easy outdoor training covering the widest areas! You certainly get what you pay for with training collars and unfortunately most cheap collars don't last long!
  • VARIABLE SHOCK AND VIBRATION LEVELS; train up to 3 dogs at once (additional collars required only $47 each!) with up to 10 levels of continuous or momentary shock (hold down button to shock for 1 up to 8 seconds, great for emergencies!) vibrations, or beeps, for safe, efficient training, allowing you to teach your dog a range of commands. Sometimes it only takes one click of a button to completely change the behavior of your dog and the vibration button does the job for most!
  • WATERPROOF CONSTRUCTION; does your dog love to run outside or swim? Unlike cheap collars, our training system is completely waterproof (remote splash proof) and can be fully submerged without damage! Most other collars fail in the rain, we provide shock collars dogs can actually swim in all year round! It's worth noting that this collar doesn't go in to standby mode like most, meaning that it's ready to use when you actually need it!
  • ULTRA LONG LASTING BATTERY & 2 YEAR WARRANTY; our training collar is powered by a super high capacity rechargeable Li-ion battery, fully charged in 2 hours, for long lasting training without having to constantly change batteries! You also get a FREE E-BOOK, 2 year warranty, no questions asked MONEY BACK GUARANTEE and World Class Customer Service!

What Are the Best Dog Training Collars for Stubborn Dogs?

If you search “training collars for stubborn dogs” on Google or Bing, nearly the entire first page of results is filled with remote dog training collar reviews.

While not ALL remote training collars are shock collars, the vast majority of them are.

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Even those that promise a pain-free training experience use aversion techniques.

In other words, they shock, startle, or scare your dog into stopping unwanted behavior rather than reward him for doing what you want.

So, what are the best collars to use? In order of preference from the most humane down:

  • Martingale Collar
  • Gentle Leader
  • Vibration Collar

Let’s explore each one closer, along with my recommendation for the best in each category.

You’ll notice that the last one is an aversion-based collars. While they’re not my top choices, I know quite a few trainers feel they’re the best way to stop unwanted behavior.

So, rather than ignore them entirely, we’ll look at the most humane options. Then, later on, we’ll talk about the right way to use them should you choose to do so at all.

What are the best training collars for stubborn dogs? How about the most humane? Read on to find out the answer!

1. Martingale Collar

Martingale Collar

At first glance, the Martingale looks like a choke collar. Don’t worry, it’s not. At least not if you buy the right one.

We use this type of collar for my Pharaoh Hound right now. They were actually designed for sighthounds, but became popular for other breeds as well.

Martingale collars are best for mildly stubborn dogs that pull a bit, but won’t drag you down the street.

They won’t do anything to curb unwanted behaviors like barking. I also wouldn’t use them for aggressive dogs who tend to lunge, as they don’t give you enough control.

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That said, if you need the best training collar for a dog that’s stubborn during walks but otherwise fairly well-behaved, start here.

Check out the video below for tips on how to use it, then read on for pros, cons, and my recommendation.

Features & Pros

  • Designed to put gentle pressure on your dog when he pulls, but NOT choke him or hurt him.
  • Made without prongs, hard buckles, or other things that can potentially damage your dog’s throat.
  • Most are made with comfortable polyester or cloth fabric, so they won’t irritate your dog’s skin.
  • Since it slips over your dog’s head, it won’t accidentally pop open.
  • They’re among the more attractive collars (not a big deal for training, but at least they don’t look scary).

Cons

  • You have to be SUPER careful with measurements to make sure it’s the right fit. No room for error.
  • If your dog is a strong puller, it won’t give you much control.
  • Should NEVER be used without supervision since it won’t release if your dog gets caught.
  • No easy way to release if your dog gets caught (we almost had to cut Freya’s off because she managed to get it in her mouth and got stuck).

Recommendation

While I got mine specifically designed for Pharaoh Hounds, I really love the Blueberry Pet collars pictured here for most breeds.

It comes in a myriad of sizes and colors, so you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding the perfect one for your dog.

Blueberry Pet 7 Patterns Spring Scent Inspired Rose Print Safety Training Martingale Dog Collar, Ivory, Medium, Heavy Duty Adjustable Collars for Dogs
  • Neck 14.5"-20", Width 3/4", Size Medium; The collar does not stretch itself. Martingale collar is a slip collar **WITHOUT THE BUCKLE**, which is designed for sighthouds but becomes popular with other breeds. Please take the measurements at the head and neck showing in the size chart. Especially for non-sight hounds, PLEASE CHOOSE A COLLAR SIZE THAT IS LARGE ENOUGH TO SLIP OVER THE HEAD
  • Warning: martingale collar is not for tie out. NEVER leave your dog unattended with a collar on. This product is NOT recommended/designed to use without leash and NOT for indoor use
  • The martingale collars provide more control over the dogs without the choking effect of a slip collar. Great for preventing escape. Properly fitted, the collar will be comfortably loose whenever the dog is not pulling against the leash
  • Polyester fabric with high density webbing to add durability; This collar is a single product. Its matching leash (B00HWQRPIA) /harness (B06VVV5L4C) /seat belt (B073W84C3Y) /lanyard (B075K69412) sold separately
  • All pictures are taken with our production samples from a size of Medium; Please measure your pets carefully for making the right purchase. Always look at the size chart for the recommended weight range to confirm the size

2. Gentle Leader Harness

Gentle Leader Harness

As I said above, the Martingale is what we currently use for Freya most of the time.

However, it doesn’t really stop her from almost dislocating my shoulder when she spots a squirrel during walks out front. For that we need the Gentle Leader harness.

Features & Pros

  • Looks (and acts) very much like the type of harness you’d use on a horse!
  • Gives you significantly more control over your dog than pretty much all other types of collars.
  • Keep pressure off your dog’s throat (it’s not a choke collar).
  • Completely pain-free.
  • Helps calm down dogs that are barking or being rambunctious.

Cons

  • As Wags & Wiggles says, it’s a tool, not a complete solution.
  • It won’t train your dog to stop unwanted behavior (you still have to do that).
  • Can NEVER leave it on an unsupervised dog.

Recommendation

While there are a few different brands out there that call themselves “Gentle Leader,” the one by PetSafe is the only one I really recommend.

The Chic Gentle Leader even comes with a matching leash and a training DVD.

PetSafe Gentle Leader Chic Head Collar, Medium, Donuts - GL-HC-C-M-DNT
  • VET RECOMMENDED AND TRAINER DESIGNED: This headcollar instinctively redirects your dog’s tendency to pull by placing gentle pressure on pain-free points and eliminating pressure on his throat
  • TEACHES BETTER LEASH MANNERS: Gently and safely helps you control unwanted leash behaviors like pulling, lunging and jumping for even the most determined pullers
  • NO MORE COUGHING AND CHOKING: A padded neoprene nose loop puts pressure on the back of the neck instead of your dog’s throat, which prevents choking and gagging
  • ALLOWS FULL RANGE OF MOTION: Take greater control during your neighborhood strolls while still allowing your dog to bark, eat, drink and play fetch
  • EASY TO FIT: Use the adjustable nose loop and quick-snap neck strap to properly fit the headcollar on your furry friend in minutes; chic collar designs add some style to your walks in the park

3. Vibration Collar

I’ll be honest, I am personally not a fan of shock collars. However, vibration collars aren’t quite in the same league. 

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Rather than literally shock dogs into stopping unwanted behavior, these collars use gentle vibration to either startle or reinforce.

See, they’re actually used by owners of deaf dogs much the way we’d use a clicker for hearing pups. 

The vibration, when set to a low level, simply says, “Yep, that’s exactly what I wanted you to do.”

People also use them at higher levels to say, “Hey, knock it off!”

 If you were shouting and your necklace suddenly started vibrating, it would surprise you enough to give you pause, right?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of vibration collars overall, then I’ll tell you a bit more about my recommendation. 

FEATURES & PROS

  • The good ones (like my recommendation) have multiple settings and levels of vibration.
  • Depending on which one you get, you can easily switch from using vibration to using tones instead.
  • Pain-free when used correctly.

CONS

  • Although it’s supposed to be pain-free, it can still scare some dogs. 
  • The prongs can irritate your dog’s skin. However, with Pet Resolve, you can remove those prongs. 
  • When you don’t participate, you can’t follow up with a command or reward for proper behavior.

RECOMMENDATION

As mentioned above, Pet Resolve is my top pick for a humane ecollar, for one very important reason. 

Since you can remove the shock prongs entirely, it’s easy to transform into a “strictly vibrations and beeps” collar. 

The Pet Resolve system works on up to three dogs at once as long as you buy the extra collars separately. 

It’s also 100% waterproof, making it perfect for dogs who love to take a dip on a hot summer’s day. 

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That, combined with the long battery life, 2-year warranty and “no questions asked” money-back guarantee make it one of the only vibration collars that I feel comfortable recommending. 

Pet Resolve Dog Training Collar with Remote - Trains up to 3 Dogs at Once - Shock, Vibration and Beep Modes - Up to 3/4 Mile Range - Waterproof Electric E Collar
  • FANTASTIC NEW UPGRADE SINCE MAY = 4.7* + EXTRA LONG & 'REMOVE THE SHOCK OPTION' PRONGS NOW INCLUDED + NO STANDBY MODE ALWAYS READY TO GO! is your dog misbehaving and you want a well behaved pet with minimal fuss? The Pet Resolve system is the perfect solution to train upto 3 dogs for a range of desirable behaviors. Don't let your dog get side-tracked by other animals or misbehave in public. Teach your canine companion how to act properly with arguably the best training collar on the market!
  • SUPER LONG RANGE HIGH QUALITY WITH MEMORY; forget other dog training collars which use cheap plastic that breaks when you drop it and are designed for small spaces and yards, our e collar dog training system is of the highest quality and has a super long 3/4 Mile range (1312 yards suitable for hunting dogs) for easy outdoor training covering the widest areas! You certainly get what you pay for with training collars and unfortunately most cheap collars don't last long!
  • VARIABLE SHOCK AND VIBRATION LEVELS; train up to 3 dogs at once (additional collars required only $47 each!) with up to 10 levels of continuous or momentary shock (hold down button to shock for 1 up to 8 seconds, great for emergencies!) vibrations, or beeps, for safe, efficient training, allowing you to teach your dog a range of commands. Sometimes it only takes one click of a button to completely change the behavior of your dog and the vibration button does the job for most!
  • WATERPROOF CONSTRUCTION; does your dog love to run outside or swim? Unlike cheap collars, our training system is completely waterproof (remote splash proof) and can be fully submerged without damage! Most other collars fail in the rain, we provide shock collars dogs can actually swim in all year round! It's worth noting that this collar doesn't go in to standby mode like most, meaning that it's ready to use when you actually need it!
  • ULTRA LONG LASTING BATTERY & 2 YEAR WARRANTY; our training collar is powered by a super high capacity rechargeable Li-ion battery, fully charged in 2 hours, for long lasting training without having to constantly change batteries! You also get a FREE E-BOOK, 2 year warranty, no questions asked MONEY BACK GUARANTEE and World Class Customer Service!

Now, let’s go over a few tips for using these best dog training collars for stubborn dogs.

Tips for using dog training collars

The first few tips apply no matter what type of collar you use. The last ones are especially vital if you choose one that’s aversion-based.

Make sure it is a perfect fit.

Not just a good fit. Perfect. If it’s too lose, it won’t work (or your dog will slip out of it). Too tight and it will damage his throat.

Check out the video below or ask a pro to help you if you’re unsure of how to fit a collar.

Always supervise your dog

Whether you choose a Martingale or a vibration collar, make sure you use it when you’re there to help your dog should something go wrong.

Years ago, my dogs got caught in each other’s collars. If we weren’t home to immediately cut them loose, I have no doubt it would have ended tragically.

Follow up with a command

Remember, collars are tools of trainers, not training tools. In other words, a collar alone can’t teach your dog what’s expected of him.

Always follow up every action with a command. For example, if you’re gently tugging back on the leash to get your dog to walk nice, make sure you also say, “heel.”

If you’re using vibration collars to stop barking, make sure you give the “quiet” command as well.

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Use positive reinforcement

When your dog responds by doing what you want, reward him. Plain and simple.

Positive reinforcement will help your training sink in and stick far better than aversion techniques.

Should I use a dog training collar with remote?

If you choose to use an ecollar, I’d really ONLY feel comfortable recommending one with a remote. That way, you’re in complete control at all times.

This is especially important if you choose to use shock features.

Basically, you aren’t just throwing an automatic ecollar on a dog, going to work, and expecting to come home to a perfectly trained dog.

Shock collars and the like only work (and I use that word loosely) when you’re there to issue a command AND reward the positive result.

Since there’s so much that can go wrong with one, using a remote ensures that you’re always supervising their use.

Final Recommendation

I will always recommend starting with the simplest, most human option and then working your way up to the more “aggressive” options.

So, either the Martingale or the Gentle Leader would be my first choice.

If you opt for a remote training collar, please consider going with vibration over shock. The Pet Resolve is a good choice.

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What are your thoughts on the best dog training collars for stubborn dogs? Share below!

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