To Use an E-Collar or Not? Is It a Question of Too Many Dog Training Tools?
There are many dog training tools available to help us find solutions for training problems. I’m grateful for that, but recently I had an evaluation with someone who’s response to the idea of using a remote collar surprised me.
The new puppy owner was seeking help due to concerns over the puppy’s biting behavior. While play biting is normal puppy behavior, this little guy would resort to the higher end of the intensity scale if he decided he didn’t want to quit. The pup demonstrated a rather strong propensity for wanting to do things his way and yielding to human desires was not high on his list of priorities. Any type of restraint against his will brought out a willingness to use his teeth to assert that point.
There are several techniques and approaches to dealing with the issue. However, one of the possible dog training tools we discussed was the use of a remote training collar. I have found the e-collar to be an extremely easy way to interrupt puppy biting. In this case I felt particularly confident it would be a good choice because the owner also has her hands full with young human children.
My goal with puppy biting is to interrupt and then redirect. The redirection teaches the puppy what it is okay to chew on (and human skin or clothing is not included on the list of acceptable items) Interruptions need to be well timed, meaning in the moment the behavior is happening. OR better yet, the moment the thought is processing in the dog’s mind….so for a busy mom it is easy to have a remote collar TX on her person so she can tap a button (the vibration feature works well for many pups) as soon as those razor sharp puppy teeth make a move for the toddlers hands or pant leg. The weird sensation interrupts the dogs focus and mom can then encourage the pup to grab a toy to gnaw on. Behaviors that are interrupted and not rewarded tend to disappear rather quickly so it is a fairly fast track to teaching a young dog that chewing on his own stuff rather than the kid is a much better option.
It is not unusual for the suggestion to sound extreme to some people. But that is only because they have yet to actually experience how gentle the sensation is from many of today’s remote training collars. Visions of a shock collar and dogs jumping in pain or fear are still prevalent in some peoples mindset. Because of that misconception I am always aware of how the suggestion might be received.
However, I was more surprised by this young mom’s desire to not have to use a remote collar and try doing it other ways first because she seemed to feel it was a more valiant or authentic effort to try other less gadget oriented ways first.
This is a mindset I encounter from time to time and I sort of get it since I too try to be guided by a more holistic, less cluttered approach to life.
Yet, I certainly recognize the value that modern day conveniences add to our daily routine. I love my smart phone and appreciate driving to work rather than walking, especially now that the temps remain in the teens and 20’s most days. I also juice daily as part of my way of maintaining a better diet, but I know there is no way I would do it if I had to squeeze and pulverize everything by hand.
I think it is about deciding which gadgets actually serve to enhance our life experience and which just become extra weight.
As we discussed the pros and cons of various dog training tools and the approaches in using them, I pondered the idea of “is it more valiant” to approach training a dog through limited tool use? The conclusion I came up with was a yes, in regards to professional dog trainers having a more thorough appreciation for all approaches and tools.
But for an average pet owner I don’t really see the point in taking the longer journey. I don’t believe it makes one a better person or makes for a better dog.
For me it is like believing Thanksgiving dinner is superior only when the cook raises their own turkeys, grows the root veggies & pumpkins and prepares all by hand over a crackling fire. Personally I don’t care if the turkey came from the freezer section as long as someone else does most of the cooking. I just like to eat and enjoy the final outcome.