8 Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Shock Collar

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Shock Collar for DogsWhether you have a pup with a penchant for persistent barking, or you’d like to train your dog to stay in the yard, you may have considered a shock collar, electronic collar (e-collar) or remote training collar. As with any method of behavior modification, there are pros and cons. Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose what method works best for you and your pets, so we’ve laid out the facts to help you decide.

Best Shock Collar For Dogs: Petsafe Yard & Park Rechargeable Collar Review

Petsafe Yard & Park Rechargeable Dog Training CollarView the Petsafe Dog Training Collar on Amazon

If you do decide that a shock collar is the right training device for your dog, we recommend the PetSafe Yard & Park Remote Dog Trainer (shown right) for its eight levels of correction, beep-only option, rechargeable battery and 400-yard range. It’s a little more expensive than some of the other electronic options out there, but it gives you more control and therefore a more positive training experience for your pup. It also allows you to train your dog with a much more mild tingle on levels one–three, rather than starting out with an intense shock. This is our top pick for best dog training collar.

How Does A Shock Collar Work?

Shock collars are a type of aversive training initially used in the 1960s to train hunting dogs. These days, shock collars are often used to curb a variety of stubborn and unwanted behaviors in family dogs, from excessive barking to food aggression, as well as to train pups to stay safely within a property line or to stick close by while off leash.

Shock collars are not intended as a punishment, but more as a deterrent to train negative or unsafe behavior out of a dog. The theory is that your dog will associate the unwanted behavior with an uncomfortable shock and stop doing it until they no longer require the reminder.

The shock administered by an approved shock collar is safe, so while it is certainly enough to get your dog’s attention and deter certain behaviors, it won’t do any lasting physical harm. With most shock collars, there are several levels of enforcement, so you can set the level to reprimand the unwanted behavior accordingly. For example, many shock collars will administer a beep and/or a vibration as a warning before an actual shock is delivered to your dog. The beep also allows you to give a verbal command (“No!” or “Down!”) with the warning beep or vibration to further disrupt the unwanted behavior. With boundary training (often marketed as an electric fence or an invisible fence), the shock collar is triggered by wires placed underground along the property line so the dog learns exactly how far they can go before they reach the boundary.

Once set to “shock” mode, there are usually varying levels of intensity delivered by a two-pronged device attached to a dog collar. If you’re using a shock collar as a barking deterrent, the collar responds to the vibration of your dog’s vocal cords. If you’re using the collar to deter behavioral issues like food aggression, jumping or leash aggression, a remote control allows you to administer the shock in conjunction with the unwanted behavior.

And keep in mind, using a shock collar doesn’t make you a bad pet parent, and it doesn’t mean you are torturing your dog. It is unlikely that an electronic training collars would destroy your relationship with your dog. In fact, shared training sessions could improve your bond with one another.

Eight Things to Know Before Buying a Shock Collar

We have chosen four pros and four cons that we think everyone should consider before using or purchasing a shock collar for a dog. Please be sure to read these carefully, and feel free to ask us any questions you have about the pros and cons of using a shock collar.

Pros of Shock Collars For Dogs

1. Adjustable Intensity

Most modern shock collars give you the flexibility of a warning beep or vibration mode, and adjustable settings on the levels of shock, which can be comforting to people are who are on the fence about using a shock collar. Other collars, such as spray collars, which administer a harmless but foul-smelling blast up a dog’s snout, are usually not adjustable.

2. Fast Results

Some pet owners report that it only took a few shocks to correct an unwanted behavior in their dog and after that, the beep or vibration was warning enough. Shock collars can also be very effective at keeping your dog on your property, which will help keep them safe while giving them freedom. Of course, more stubborn dogs may take longer to train.

3. You Don’t Need to Be Present

Shock collars, when used to control chronic barking, work even while you’re away from home or inside the house. This can be especially helpful if you’ve had neighbors complain about your dog’s loud protests while you’re out. The same goes for shock collars as boundary control, although they do require some hands-on training. Of course, we don’t recommend leaving your dog unattended outside for extended periods of time, with or without a shock collar.

4. Affordable

A shock collar can be a cheaper alternative to a professional dog trainer or a fence. Shock collars range from $25 to about $200, depending on features such as remote control, adjustable warning/shock levels, a range of distances (usually 30 to 400 yards), and the number of collars included.

Cons of Shock Collars For Dogs

1. The Shock

Most pet owners can’t fathom causing pain to their pet. But even with the ability to control the intensity of the shock, you are still using aversive behavior modification. Many dog trainers choose positive reinforcement (reward) as a means of behavior modification over negative feedback.

2. The Fear

Fear in dogs can be dangerous, so you never want to train a dog with fear. With shock training, some dogs may learn to fear people, objects, or situations they associate with the collar. One pet owner we know said their dog refused to go outside after training with the invisible fence they installed and started urinating in the house instead of going to the back door.

3. Over-Correction

Without you there to control when a shock is administered, automatic bark collars and electric fences may deliver shocks unintentionally or too often. This unnecessary shock could confuse your dog by “correcting” a problem that was not even there.

4. No Positive Reward

On their own, shock collars don’t reinforce good behavior with a positive reward such as your affection, verbal approval (“Good boy!”) or a tasty treat. So while a shock collar may effectively deter negative behaviors like jumping on visitors or running after the mail carrier, it doesn’t reward positive behavior such as sitting patiently or obeying a command to “Stay!”. As with any training, you should always reinforce positive behavior with a reward of affection, playtime or a small treat.

E-Collar Training and Introduction Video

Learn about training your dog using an e-collar. There are some helpful tips in this video.

Grow Your Bond With Your Dog

No matter what training tools you decide to use, the intended purpose is to help your dog, whether it’s to stop him from barking unnecessarily, or to keep him from harm’s way. And that goes when using a shock collar or any training collar. Not sure what size of collar to get? Check out our handy guide with the average neck sized based on breed.

Have you had success using a shock collar on your dog?

The information contained in this article and website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional safety advice; it is provided for educational purposes only.

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Sara is a writer for Canine Journal. She adores dogs and recently adopted a rescue pup named Beamer. Whole she may be adjusting to life with another being to care for, she needed no time to adjust to all the extra love.

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409 Comments on "8 Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Shock Collar"

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my 2 year beagle slips out of harness, runs through neighbors yard and will not come to me. I need an e collar, what is best
I have a British bulldog and a French bulldog the Frenchie I see 3 and a half and he’s started attacking my other dog dog it’s getting harder to separate them now so I was wondering if the e collar would be worth trying
i have a 7 year old boxer bulldog mix shees always barked and not listened but 6 months ago she starded attacking the other dog and biting us as we tried to break them up. i was wondering if it was possible to train both of them with this technique. if not what should in do
Kristof Kovacs
Hello, I see everywhere that e-collars are used at low values repetitively rather than at medium levels a very few times. In my experience, a strong corrective action can teach a dog to avoid unwanted behaviour more effectively than barely noticable signals.

If my adopted 2 yr old male foxterrier behaves just fine, comes back always when recalled (after 6 months of intensive training), but completely turns around and becomes absolutely uncontrollable and goes into life-threatening situations when he sees birds, duck and cats, I would use a stonger shock immediately when not responding to recall with a warm praise rght after – a few times rather than small discomfort over and over again.

Please share your thoughts.

Hi! I have a 4 month old puppy and her issue is biting – not only just the innocent nips because she is teething, but she launches and bites our ankles if we are walking her or if she is overstimulated/wants attention, she becomes aggressive. She bit my 6-year old on the leg and drew blood and my husbands thumb and drew blood as well. Do shock collars work for curbing the biting?
Carlos Cordova
Best method is to bite her back. Not hard but enough to get her attention.
I have two pomeranians and they bark heaps. The neighbours are starting to complain and we have already tried ultrasonic sound machines. We are considering a shock collar but I don’t want to hurt my dogs. I love them to the moon and back and wouldn’t dream of injuring them. The shock collar seems a bit cruel to me and my family all goes to school or works so no one can stay home during the day from 8 up until 4. Any suggestions about the shock collar? Does it work? Does it hurt? Which brand is the best? Anyone else in the same boat?
I use a shock collar on my hound pitbull mix. He uses level 2 out of 8. I would defiantly buy it again. He used to run into roads and for hours at a time. In regard to your dog that barks I would defiantly get one. Both you and your neighbours deserve peace. I also thought it was cruel and it was my last resort. I regretted it because I spent so much time shouting at him and breaking down in tears. Start with the lowest level and see if it makes a difference and do it for at least 6 weeks as the dog should have a full understanding by then. I hope this helps.
We have a 15 week old golden doodle and an 8 year old golden doodle. We have a pet safe collar for our older dog to keep him in our yard. We live on a busy road. When can we put our pup on a collar? They have a very large area to roam and our unit is working great for our older dog.
Hello. I am wanting to purchase a training collar that will both automatically beep or vibrate on it’s own when she barks, but I also want a remote so that I can use it to train her to stay in our yard. I am looking for a 2-in-1 collar. Do these exist? I can only seem to find the automatic barking collars OR ones with a remote that you have to be present to use. Please help!!!
Kimberly Alt
Hayley, I was looking for the same thing for my dog, but unfortunately came up empty handed. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, I’m just not familiar of a collar with these capabilities. Hopefully a fellow reader reads your comment and knows of an option for you!
Stephanie S
Yes Garmin makes one that is both a remote training collar/bark collar.
Kimberly Alt
Thank you Stephanie!!
I have been using a collar on our 12 1/2 week old for jumping due to excitement. Knocks down our toddler grandchildren. It is a remote and she is with me 24/7. I use a verbalcommand “off” with audio beep then a # 4 quick zap.
If she jumps I use verbal again with zap. She has learned in 1 day! I was hesitant to use it but had done so with another pup and it was so responsive without being beaten down! We also have underground fence boundary as we live close to a highway on a hill. Cars come fast and can’t see. Use this tool as that. Our puppy is definitely a pup and I don’t expect perfection but introducing manners and gaining their attention at this point and keeping both dogs safe seems reasonable to me.
I have been reading through the posts and can’t find any on this problem… I have a 4 month old Golden Retriever that eats her poop… I’m 71 years old and have to run with the pooper scooper to hopefully get it before she does… Has anyone used an e collar for this problem ??? I’ve tried distracting her and rewarding her if I catch her before she gobbles it down… But that only works part of the time…
Normally a dog eats its or another dogs poop when they are low on a certain vitamin. You could try adding pumpkin to the puppys diet but i have no input on using the collar.
Stephanie S
Try pineapple in the dogs food or a bit of meat tenderizer in food. Using a remote collar isn’t going to help cause unfortunately you won’t always be in sight to see dog eating poop. And you want consistency when training a dog for an unwanted behavior.
Dogs generally grow out of cophragic behaviour (poop eating) by the time they are about 9 months of age. They are doing it to acquire nutrients absent in their diet. A shock collar would be a wasted, and unfair approachfor this particular problem. Be patient – in spite of the grossness!!
Bridget Hoopes
There are tablets you can buy to give her that makes her poop taste horrible to her.
Kelli Fortner
I’m gone during ther day. My dogs wants to be outside, he’s a huge dog. He Likes to wander far away and by highways. What do I need to ask for when buying a perimeter collar to keep him close to home
Hi Kelli,
Invisible fences, underground fences, or any of those things in my opinion are not good options if you leave your dog outside with no supervision.
Those things do not stop wild life or any other destraction from allowing your dog to leave the yard and ultimately put your pet at risk to get hit by a car or even stolen.
Hi. I have a 9 year old WolfhoundX who suffers separation anxiety. When l leave the house she jumps two fences to get out. I’m living in a back unit with houses at the back of mine and on either side. She was my husband’s company dog before he went into permanent full time care. Shock collar have been suggested for me to use or to use medication. Please help me on this matter
Kimberly Alt
Do you have a crate you could put the dog in while you’re away from home?
Stephanie S
I agreeto usea crate wgen leaving the house. Using a remote collar could cause the anxiety to get worse. Also with tge remote collar you have to be in the dogs presence to use it. Try a pheromone collar also leaving music on or tv when gone. You could also buy a toy that works the dogs mind like a ball treat dispenser and only give the toy when leaving and pick it up when you get home. Redirect the attention in a positive way. Also dont make a huge announcement that your leaving or make a huge deal that you came home. Give cold shoulder until dog is in a relaxed state then say hi. If you talk or touch a dog when its anxious, excited or nervous your feeding that behavior.
My husband and I use a shock collar on our 1 year old German Shepherd to get him to stop digging craters in our yard and when we take him to the park to get him to give his toys back during a game of fetch as he doesn’t want to give his toys back and can become slightly aggressive. He also chases our cats (they’re declawed) so we used it to train him to stay away from them as well. At first I was against it but it has definitely helped! At this point we don’t even use the shock setting like we do the beep and the vibration. He will stop whatever he’s doing as soon as he hears that beep.
Irin Savage
What type of collar do you use on your dog I have a dog with a barking and yelling problem
Will I be able to train my dog to stop fighting with my other smaller dog- they get violent on occasion.
My husky howls so much but only at night I was thinking of getting one. I tried toys chewing bones everything u can think of to entertain him while I’m asleep even trying to keep him up all day so he doesn’t stay up howling all night. But if I’m not awake and don’t pay attention to his howling he will get louder and climb all over me to wake me up for attention
my dog who is 2 years old has some problem behaviours that need fixing. he is a small dog and barks constantly. i live with my family and whenever my sister leaves her bedroom he tries to attack her, barking at her, snarling at her, jumping up to bite her. he has broken skin and left a nasty bruise on her thigh. i have tried positive reinforcement training by myself, paid for 10 lessons at a big name pet store and even paid a behaviouralist to come to my house and teach me, my family, and my dog. he attacks all guests like he does my sister and i am getting increasingly concerned. he has greatly improved since we first rescued him (in july of this year) from a likely abusive home where he was not neutered and had never gone outside before but he is still very fearful and aggressive. i love this little dog with all my heart and the last thing i want to do is hurt him but i dont have the money for a boot camp and im running out of options. please reply if a shock collar seems like a viable option. my aunt has one for her dog and he seems very happy. i never plan on using it at full capacity and hope to quickly just get him to a vibration setting.
Kimberly Alt
It sounds like your dog may need to learn some boundaries. My dog trainer says that it takes 2 weeks to correct an unwanted behavior. However, I’m not sure if this is accurate for your situation. During those two weeks you have to follow through with every correction. I would suggest keeping your dog on leash until he learns how to properly behave (at least 2 weeks, maybe more). When you need to be away from him (cooking dinner, going to the bathroom, etc.) place the leash under the couch or something sturdy so he has to stay in place. He should not be allowed anywhere without your permission. Practice sit/stay and down/stay with him. If your sister leaves her room, he won’t have the option to bite her since he’ll be on leash. And if/when he gets aggressive you should correct him by saying “no” firmly and putting him back in his sit/down stay.

I can’t guarantee that this will work for your dog, but it sounds like you’re willing to try anything and this is a no cost option for you. As for the shock collar, I can’t say whether or not it’s a guaranteed fix. Dogs react differently to shock collars, so there’s a chance it would work or that it wouldn’t work. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Tanya Burt
Hi ive been thinking of using a shock collar for my 5yr old female Rottweiler, to train and stop her scuffing up the grass after toilet or just when she is scenting in garden ( chucking grass and mud everywhere ) but not wanting her to stop going toilet or anything else just to stop chucking up grass!
Any suggestions
Thanks Tanya
Hey everyone! I need some opinions. I have a 2 year old pit bull. THE SWEETEST BOY EVER. He is partially trained but is lacking some major manners. He jumps up on EVERYONE and usually barks too (he is super protective of me). He has lived in a home his entire life and just recently moved into an apartment with me so he isnt used to having daily interaction with tons of strangers in his own ‘home’. I take him to puppy daycare and he is totally fine in a setting with tons of dogs, but when it comes to taking him to the bark park in the neighborhood, he is absolutely territorial and pretty aggressive with any other dog that enters. I know he is still on the back half of his puppy years so theres going to be an exccessive amount of energy, but I need to be able to control it. He is a tank, has so much strength and power, I feel like the shock collar would serve as a REMINDER to behave rather than a punishment. Thats all he really needs, is some reinforcement. He has such a personality and attitude he will only listen to me when its convenient for him. I love him to pieces but cant afford these hundred or thousand dollar boot camps. I think the collar would be a good alternative. Any feedback? Anyone else experienced with pitties?
Brian Williams
In my opinion most people need a device like this, because so many have a pet that they have very little control over,and in a social gathering their dogs can be a pain in the ass to everyone except them ,as the owners can not even use the basic obedient commands that all owners should know and be able to use with their pets . I see these devices as a harmless tool to help the uneducated dog owners to have some sort of control. In the hands of a professional a collar like this can be a wonder tool to cut down hours of time in training problematic dogs . Of course this is only helping tool and is no way a substitute for learning the pack mentality ,a bonding friendship and how to understand your dogs behavior as well as how you behavior gets read by your dog .
I totally agree with you that most dog owners have s*** for brains and should be the ones wearing the shock collar. It is so disrespectful to others and I feel all governments should implement severe penalties for these irresponsible dog owners, in particular the ones that refuse to get their dog to stop barking. This noise pollution is unacceptable and must stop.
If I was the President I would not let my people suffer from this problem and I would put this issue as a no tolerance crime, the first offence for your dogs barking would be a simple fine of $25,000. USD or 5 years in prison, second offence would be $100,000. USD AND 10 years in prison… and if you are still too stupid and did not learn then I would have you executed on your 3rd offence. And if you think that is it, the first time you get caught leaving fido’s crap pile for others to smell or step in.. well you would be eating that crap then a bullet to your void skull.
For all you bias and brainless dog owners reading this, keep in mind the only other solution would be to cull all dogs but that would be unfair to the innocent dogs and tiny % of responsible dog owners.
You are a psychopath.
I really hope that you do not own a dog because you would probably treat them horribly. Some things are uncontrollable, like the poop condition. Yet, I do find it annoying as well, some owners forget a bag and feel horrible for having to leave it there. My friend had only brought one bag on one of her walks and her dag took 2 dumps. She was looked at weirdly by many and felt awful. She tried kicking it to the side and got it all over her shoe, then walked down about 2 blocks looking for someone who had an extra dog bag. She ended up going back and picking it up and ruined her shoe. There are good people in the world and charging that highly and sending people to prison for barking and/or dog poop is just awful! I understand and agree with it being less tolerable, but give 2-3 warnings before you start charging and even then, charge $20-$30 and keep it at that each time. Some dogs are also a lot more stubborn and need lots of extra training. Although if the owner does not take initiative to train extra hard, then they should indeed wear the shock collar. I will agree with you that much.
What is wrong with you? Nobody should be punished for their dogs behaviour! Most of these dogs having these problems are only kids and kids have heaps to learn. What if you were a kid, made a mistake and your parents got punished for it. Reading this comment, I can obviously tell u don’t have dogs of your own because then you would understand. Make sure you understand your topic next time before you post a rude comment about it.
my goodness you call this a problem? Dogs barking? We share this world with animals. Do we need to have our lives as such that even dog barking bothers us? You should look into countries where the need for daily survival is what is on their minds. I find that people tolerate so little, expect so much from life to the point that so many minute thing bothers them. Now when we look at people here we have a problem….for the most part you are whining. Try to broaden your horizon…
Our dog is a Aussie mix therefore a lot of hair around her neck. Will a shock or bark collar work on her
Kimberly Alt
Hi Earl, as long as the connectors are touching her skin it should work. If you are merely using the beep to help with “good/bad” behavior, then the amount of hair on the dog won’t matter. Many dogs only need one shock before they learn that the beep is a warning for what could happen, so the shock isn’t used frequently.
Hi all! I have a dog named gooboi! He is such a good boy! That’s how I named him! He never runs away, so this product isn’t really for me but I think that it would be great for my friend Tony. Tony has a great big pitbull. His dog is always running away. If he doesn’t keep it under control, they might be forced to put him down. I really feel that this could save his life!
We successfully used an e-collar to stop our rescue dog mouthing at everyone inc kids. I don’t want him to have it anymore (its bulky and looks harsh) but he comes to the beep brilliantly. Are there any beep only collars?
If you look on Amazon for training collars, a majority of them have an option of just solely using beep or a high-pitch noise on the collar
I am curious as you how many of you have been able to graduate from a collar? How many were able to use it as a training tool with voice commands or other methods and eventually remove the collar from the equation all together?
We’ve been considering getting one to help address some bad chase behaviors and recall in those situations with one of our dogs. However, she’s intelligent and would know the difference between the collar being on or not. If it’s something that we’ll always have to use on her (even if just on a beep), I don’t want to go down that road.
I am curious about the same thing. Our rescue Alaskan Malamute has a verey bad barking issue. He also jumps up on the fromt storm door when ANYONE approaches besides me or my wife. It scares the h#$$ out of everyone – but he is very docile the minute I admit someone to the house. Being a Malamute he has a profuse coat and a mind that locks in on something and won’t get off it…i.e. kids running in the street or next door backyard, he runs back and forth at top speed until I think he’s going to have a heart attack. Do these collars work for Very THICK Coated dogs? He has come a LONG way in training in the last two years but just can’t get over this hump yet.
I have a pitbullot and an “invisible fence” brand fence…lots of people have told me horror stories about their experience with these type of fences but they all had the DIY brands… I got the fence when rocky was 11 weeks old and he’s now 5 yrs…. best investment ever!!! I think that having them come out to train and show me how to train him is the key to the success…. he did jump the fence one time, 3 yrs ago… he jumped through at the spot that I would take him out for walks… hasn’t tried to leave since!!
Hope in PC Utah
HELP !!!! I rescued a 70 lb. male Great Pyrenees/Border Coolie mix last year from a shelter and he slowing went from fear aggression to now protective aggression. I can’t take him to the dog park any more, because he goes after every dog his size and larger – barking and biting at them. He barks at men and he has leash aggression when I walk him in our neighborhood and pulls towards every dog he sees on a leash – so I usually tell the other owner he is “dog selective” and I have the yellow bandana on him to indicated he is unpredictable. He has a nice backyard to run around in and does get aggressive through the fencing with the neighbors dogs. He is very protective of my family and is a big puppy inside that loves to play with my 8 yr old Sheppard mix. So I am looking into a corrective collar for him – I don’t want to shock him – but I need help – what is the best method to train this aggressive big boy. Thank you for your comments and suggestions!
Contact Phil at Feather Ranch in Los Banos California. He trains dogs to be well behaved citizens and trains dogs to hunt. He uses shock collars to train and can guide you.
If you don’t want to shock your dog (because who would want to) I recommend finding a trainer who uses positive reinforcement to work on the issues you have described above. Using aversives to train is very outdated and not as effective as reward-based training. Please do your research. 🙂
I have a 10 month old lab and possibly boxer mix that we adopted from the pound. I have tried everything to stop the jumping which is becoming increasingly painful. I thought things were going good with the training by immediately turning our backs, crossing our arms when she would jump so no attention and rewarded her when she was sitting with treats and positive praise. This worked for a month or two however it is completely out the window now. When I come in and she jumps I turn now and she just jumps and jumps (which is now higher and more rough since she is bigger). She now reaches the back of my shoulders and I’m afraid one of these days she is REALLY going to hurt me. I tried when I come home (this is the worst time for jumping) opening the door and if she starts getting overly excited shutting the door. We did this for over an hour. She finally would sit when the door was open but as soon as you walk in and get half way through the room the jumping starts again. This ends up with her being placed outside and blocking the dog door so she can’t come in for several hours. I’m frustrated and thinking of trying the shock collar. I can deal with the playful nipping although this has increased lately and potty training was easy especially with the dog door. She is great on the leash and doesn’t pull but the jumping … we can’t seem to get a hold on it
I have a small herding type dog who is very smart. I’ve had success using positive reinforcement for everything except one problem and I can’t figure out how to get her to stop without a shock collar. This is my last option unless someone has a better way. She listens and does everything I say immediately, unless she begins chasing an animal(we live near the woods, no fences). Then it’s as if she has gone deaf and won’t recall or follow commands. There are big cats in the woods here and the deer are raising their foal, both could kill her very easily and I feel this is the only way to protect her. Is there something else I can try that maybe I haven’t thought of or is this the last option?
I have the exact same problem with my blue heeler terrier mix. Can anyone tell me how to read the replys

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