I regularily take care of two female Australian Shepherds who get rather exitable everytime anyone is around them. They tend to jump at my face to lick me, bark at any strangers that pass by and don't pay attention to orders, even if it's obvious they understand them. So I asked for some help from the owner and she suggested using the e-collar (or shock collar as some call it) on the dogs when they missbehaved.
It was the first time I had ever tried a training collar and it was a Dogtra 1800 NC. I put the leash around my hand since I wanted to try out just what type of shock this was going to be. Well the intensity know goes from 1-8, one being a barely noticable prick and 8 being the equivalent of an electric fence shock. Very unpleasant, but I guess that's the point.
I was told that only by using it once in a while, the dogs would learn to identify the collar with the punishment and simply putting it on would eventually become enough to keep them from their bad habits. I found this to be true. It took short of 2 days of nicks every time they barked, or went off running or even when they simply didn't sit when asked to, for the collar itself to become the control and not the shocks.
Although I'm sure some dogs cannot be tamed with small schocks, these two bitches respond to the lower shocks around the 4-5 range. On the Dogtra electronic collar, there are two buttons, one the Nick button sends a brief static shock to the dog. The other button, named Cont. will send continual electric shock to the dog's neck until the user lets go of the button. Typically there is a safety which cuts the signal keeping users from shocking for more than 10-15 seconds.
There is alot of critisism from groups saying that this type of treatment of dogs is unfair, since most have never had it tested on themselves and therefore do not understand the pain they're delivering to their beloved pets. I strongly suggest testing e-collars on oneself (unless you have heart problems) and urge users to start with very low settings. If the dog does not respond, only then try a higher output.
There is a way of using e-collars as positive reinforment. Some have tried associating the smallest type of shock, one that doesn't hurt, to something the dog likes (food, treat, toy) for the dog to eventually link the shock as a good deed. It is the same idea as the clicker, the little plastic snaps that click so you can assosiate the sound to something that is desirable to the pet.