E-Collar Dog Training

E-collar dog training: Would your dog choose it if you gave him the option?

Have you ever wondered if your dog would choose e-collar dog training? I spend a fair amount of time sleuthing the internet for information and opinions regarding e-collars or “shock collars” as some continue to call them.

One of the sentiments I’ve noticed lately being touted by those who wish to have the tool banned from existence is the idea that the dogs (our dogs) didn’t get to “choose” this form of training or this training tool. This statement is usually uttered in reference or testimonial that demonstrates a human subjecting themselves to e-collar stimulation for either comedic purposes or for the sake of visually elaborating on a concept. The typical commentary is: “well, the human had a choice about feeling that tool, those poor dogs don’t.”

That line of thinking got me pondering on the idea of choices for our dogs. I am curious how you feel about e-collar dog training and hope you chime into the conversation.

I’m all for giving my dogs some options, as in: do you want this toy or this one? Do you want to sniff out this trail or the one over there? But my personal outlook is that my dogs are my responsibility and as such I do make a lot of decisions for them. Here is a brief list of some of the decisions I don’t give my dogs a choice about.

I decide:

What they eat.

What vaccinations they get and how often.

What dogs I trust and allow them to interact with.

If they are allowed to swim or not.

When they need to get a bath, nails trimmed or ears cleaned.

If they get to remain intact or if they will be surgically altered (spay & neuter).

Why do I decide these things for my beloved companions and not give them “their choice”? Well, I feel fairly confident I will make better decisions for them than they would make for themselves. Case in point, my dogs would probably never chose to get vaccinated or take a bath or file their nails, they would likely make some bad choices and trust dogs that they shouldn’t. They would absolutely choose to eat trash and clean up every human left over they could. And for certain, Diva, would jump in the water and swim ANYWHERE despite a dangerous current.

So does the fact that I don’t allow my dogs too many choices make me some sort of evil dictator? If it does, I guess I am guilty of raising my kids that way also. I believe in applying structure, limitations and rules that I determine to be in the best interest of all.

When my charges (dogs or kids) clearly understand the rules I’ve created they actually get more freedom as a result. And they grow to a level of independence that I feel is our responsibility to teach them to have. One of my children is out of the house, putting himself through higher education and making his own way in the world. The second child will soon be following suit. And meanwhile my dogs no longer need to be kenneled or baby gated when I am away from the house and they are calm and well mannered if they are left in anothers care for a period of time. Through the choices I’ve made for them in e-collar “training” they have learned self control and the liberties that go along with that.

e-collar training
“all the kids” circa 2009

I honestly believe that if my dogs could speak for themselves they would choose the e-collar dog training and the subsequent freedom it brings with it.

They get to run off leash in unfenced areas, they get to be part of the party when there is company, they get to go along on most trips and they can be in public venues without being a nuisance.

Yes, I am the one responsible for making the e-collar dog training choice for my dogs. And as a result of it I do not have to make choices to withhold their freedom because “there are too many distractions around” nor do I have to limit their exploration to the end of a leash or clipped to a front pressure harness or head halter.

So what are your thoughts? Is it appropriate that we make the choices for our dogs training tools or exactly how does this argument stack up in your opinion?

 

 

Robin

128 thoughts on “E-Collar Dog Training

  1. melanie says:

    I was scared to death of using the ecollar on my maltese & GSD… but the GSD rescue was out of control! how can you try to use treat training on your 100 lb dog who wants nothing more than to drag you across the street to get to that other dog. He is not a “foody” and even simple tricks are hard to teach him because he gets fed up of treats after 3 or 4. Toys work better but not when there is another dog around. he wants NOTHING more than to play and interact with other dogs and NOTHING distracts him.
    The maltese…well he was aggressive towards the GSD lol

    E-collar fixed all my problems…however a word of advice. if you dont knwo what your doing. PLEASE so not go out and buy it and try it yourself. I had a trainer with a good reputation help me train my dogs. The ecollar should NOT be a punishment. It is a tool to help teach your dog to focus on you and your commands.

    The first bit of advice i was given when i got the collar was:” THIS IS NOT A PUNISHMENT TOOL. WE WILL NOT BE USING IT TO TELL YOUR DOG HE DID SOMETHING WRONG”
    My dogs love the collars. I take them out and they know its training time and get super excited. I still do a combination of clicker training.

    when it comes to tricks.. i teach them the trick with the clicker. once they know how to do it 100% i use the collar to help them work on their accuracy & around distractions or to use tricks in combination with other commands.

    i love the e-collar but highly recommend doing a TON of research or getting a GOOD trainer to help you out. It CAN be a negative experience for your pooch if you make it one. Remember..e-collars NOT to be used as punishment.
    and to all those people out there who say “if your not willing to shock urself dont shock your dog”… first thing my trainer did was make me try it before i used it on the dogs. YES it is uncomfortable….in the same way that someone poking you repeatedly would be uncomfortable…but in my opinion it is not painful and I have not gotten a painful reaction out of my dogs…. most of the time they just prick up their ears or quickly look at me when i hit the button…

  2. Patrice says:

    This is a very interesting blog and insight by many. Just to give a bit of background, my parent’s have owned a renowned dog training business for over 35 years that has successfully trained tens of thousands of dogs both on and off leash. Through the years they have taught me, and I now train there. We use a balanced method of training. We use plenty of treats and praise to motivate the dog when he is doing right and to teach the exercises. Once the dog knows the exercise and ignores the command we will use a correction. In the on leash training we will use either a verbal correction or a leash and collar correction. We choose the training collar based on the dog’s sensitivity level and it can be anything from a martingale collar to a prong collar. We get consistently good results with just about every dog we train, the dogs LOVE school, and the owners are amazed at what the dog is able to do by the time they are done.
    For off leash, which is only available for dogs that have completed the on-leash training, we often use remote collars. We train outdoors in a city environment so safety is of the utmost importance to us. Not one of the dogs I have trained on the remote collar has become scared or fearful. In fact, they come bounding in to school each morning, and I am greeted with enthusiasm and kisses. These dogs are not working for me because they are afraid. Trust me, if thought how I was training these animals caused them fear and anxiety I would find another way. Usually, they will respond to the vibrate setting or a very low stem, one you can’t even feel on your finger. If you call that pain, then you must encounter thousands of painful situations in your day to day living. I have read over and over again why would you choose to inflict pain on your animal, when you could use all positive? My response is for the vast majority of the time the dog is able to work on a setting that merely redirects their focus (which is not painful) when they get distracted, and quite frankly I do not think it is the end of the world if the dog has an uncomfortable nano-second if it means I know I can get him back even in the most dire of circumstances. Now, just because I am comfortable using training collars and e-collars does not mean I think that positive reinforcement does not work, for those of you who use it, and it works for them, kudos. After reading the other messages on this board, I merely wanted to chime in and share my experiences. I am not trying to change others opinions on the issue, I just ask that everyone try to have an open mind, and realize that no matter how we train our dogs, we are training them because we love them, and we want them to have the best life possible

  3. Rick says:

    I’m pretty sure my little guy would choose the ecollar. This for several reasons.

    First, it allowed us to stop using the Halti or Easy Walk Harness, both of which irritated him. His reaction to me picking up the ecollar is usually one of joy; not so much with those other devices. Second, it helped him understand what I expected from him. Third, it allowed him greater off lead freedom, much quicker and in a wide variety of circumstances. Most of all, he likes the fact that my frustration level dropped to zero almost immediately. This improved our relationship in ways I could not have imagined. Life is good.

  4. Jon says:

    They may be the kindest , gentlest people, and a better home environmemt for the dog than other options. They come asking for help, and when “this or that” isnt working at what point do we turn our noses up at them, tell them they are hopeless, or suggest euthansia? Do we consider breaking our “cardinal rule” for the chance that we could help them with a little more “pressure” than wed generslly prefer to use or an approach that doesnt fit into the arguments we write on ablog or computer screen, in a book, or a handout? At what point can kindness be detrimental, or do we reevaluate our definition of kindness? To me this is about much more than a remote collar, a correction, or “as little force necessary” use of +p or -r. It is a question of what help is, what forms it takes, and if there are times or situations that help may look different than what our ideal version of it be. Some will never come across situations that require such testing re-evaulations of such, and if so, good. But what is scary are the ones that do, and didnt see it because the lenses on their glasses were of a shape that creates mental blindspots. Every person who reads this may likely find themselves feeling no different than before, but when so aggressively waging war on
    the use of a tool and its users we should consider these things.

    • Robin says:

      Jon, You have posed some very interesting thoughts and questions. Thank you for chiming in. I appreciate how you have seen the discussion from yet another angle.
      all the best,
      Robin

      • Jon says:

        Robin,
        I appreciate what you do. Thank you for your kindness. I wanted to share a little insight. I recently sat in on about 18 seminars led by veterinary behaviorists, ranging from “ALL Positive” to focusing on the positive and trying to use as little -R and +P as necessary. When going through prognosis, conclusion, and statistics, one well known and often published behaviorist described the meaning of success in training. When showing us a statistic of 60% success in aggressive behavior, she described the criteria to rate it successful in such studies. In which case if a dog bites 9 out of 10 times compared to the 10/10 average prior to training, for statistical purposes it was considered successful. This means the dog may have bitten one less time a week over the course of 6 months and that is successful treatment. Such strict dedication and adherence to one “appropriate approach” made me question such thought processes in reasoning “appropriate methods.” I had to ask myself, had the behaviorist explored options outside of her box, if she wouldn’t have been able to claim a better conclusion as a success. It seemed every other sentence was an attack on remote collar training. One study she touted, was a survey on aggression associated with certain techniques. I thought it interesting that aggression had only been documented as being seen in conjunction with a remote collar to an equal level as aggression seen in positive methods. However, this study was used by such behaviorists to argue such close correlation with the remote collar. Just a thought…

        • Robin says:

          It is really such a shame. And it saddens me to again be reinforced with the knowledge that the public and others are being mislead because this type of information is being closely guarded. I hope you continue to chime in here, your voice is much needed.
          Robin

  5. Jon says:

    In this whole discussion i have seen no discussion of drive thresholds. While marker/clicker training is my favorite way to train, the biggest concern i see with it is a dogs upper drive threshold. In some dogs with low drive, it is incredibly hard to maintain focus of long (and sometimes required) periods of time. In the hands of a skilled trainer, or an incredibly motivated owner this can be overcome. However, with some owners, they will never, despite their efforts, be more interesting to their dog than the entire world of other interestimg things to a dog. When dealing with difficult behaviors, these people and dogs will not find a solution in the marker method. On a daily basis they will try using deprivation and other drive building techniques just to maintain basic and average results, yet fail to overcome the issue that sent themm to a trainer in the first place. in other cases, certain rewards are not efficient, despite the premack principle in all its glory, to deliver when they could be the drive that tips the scale in a positive direction. We may try repeating to ourselves, “they just need to keep with it” or “they arent really trying.” More often than not, id believe these two things. But by golly, some people just wont be certain things, like a champion figure skater, a good tennis player, or even a not so horrible actor or actress. If we say,”i refuse” to so much, do we fail these dogs and owners?

  6. Mike says:

    Michelle, I apologize if I am wrong, but you seem to lack understanding of correction collars. Perhaps collars in general. Any collar can do significant damage, both mentally and physically to a dog. A flat collar can cause significant trachea damage to a dog, and has a pretty similar chance of choking a dog. While I am against choke chains, and never train with them, I do not condemn them if the person using them is skilled enough to do so properly. I have safely used prong collars many times, as well as remote collars. Any collar has the potential to injure a dog, as do many actions. We reduce this through vigilance, and education. So whether you are using a flat collar, gentle leader, martingale, prong collar, or remote collar the potential for damage is always there. People need to stop blaming tools, and start blaming the true cause of all damage done to all the dogs out there. Man kind.

  7. Beth says:

    I have three dogs, one has been e-collar trained for recall. The trainer I have gone to for years is a positive reward trainer…until she met my girl. My dog is extremely stubborn and willful and definitely has a mind of her own. We worked on her recall using positive reward based methods in group and private lessons for over a year and a half. She was a smart girl and excelled in all other aspects of obedience, but she absolutely would not come when called. It was finally my reward based positive trainer that suggested trying an e-collar. I was shocked to hear her suggest this.

    So, I ordered a Dogtra collar and slowly started training a recall. I would never had tried this on my own. You definitely need to know what you are doing or you can ruin a dog. Training with an e-collar is not an appropriate tool to use on any dog for just any type on training. Using an e-collar to stop overly excited or aggressive behaviors can definitely lead to redirected aggression.

    I would never think of using the e-collar on my other two dogs. Their personalities are such that I think it would backfire and make them shut down. However, they are not willful stubborn dogs like my other one.

    I believe that every tool has it’s place. In the right hands, on the right dog, under the right circumstances an e-collar can be a valuable training tool.

  8. DaneLover says:

    As an obedience trainer and veterinary technician of 20 years I would have to make the case that electric collars, (for those of you flying off the handle already, did you know that electric collars can also use a spray of citronella or a vibration or even ultrasonic tones?) have their place in dog training. I have found it ironinc over the years that the people I hear badnouth the use of electronic collars the hardest usually have an unruly, choking itself to death, dog on a choke chain or prong collar. did you ever stop to think that those cause physical discomfort and pain or injury? And given the fact that most people use them incorrectly after grabbing them off the pet store wall and throwing them on the dog, they often cause a long term, lengthy discomfort or pain as the dog is continually choking or pinching itself, rather than the short, static busrt from an electronic collar. As for choices, can all of you on here honestly say you have made nothing but good choices for yourselves? Would you have chosen to have vaccinations as a child? Would you have eaten your brussel sprouts? Would you have gone to school?
    I have seen animals hung on choke collars and have the prongs of a pinch collar imbedded in their necks. Those were the owners choices of collar, not the dogs. Everything, if used incorrectly, can cause harm. I see dogs all the time through work whose owners are killing them slowly with obesity and a horrible diet. But I bet given the choice on its own, that animal would keep on eating that horribly unhealthy food.
    I make choices for my animals that will prolong their lives, give them a well rounded positive temperment, enable them to have much more personal freedom than they would otherwise. We currently have a deaf Great Dane puppy because some breeder made the choice repeatedly to breed dogs that shouldn’t even exist. he may lose his eyesight as well. He is being trained with a vibration remote collar because he cannot hear me to find me. He is already responding beautifully and is very happy he can run and play with our big Great Dane outside.
    My dogs are my responsibility and it is my choice to raise them to be obedient well mannered animals. Would you rather see a 150 lb dog running full tilt at you while I shake a treat bag or look around for a clicker?

    • Michelle says:

      “Would you rather see a 150 lb dog running full tilt at you while I shake a treat bag or look around for a clicker?”

      This seems to be a bit of a strawman. I could say the same thing: “Would you rather see a 150 lb dog running full tilt at you while I try to find the remote for the e-collar?” A poorly trained dog is a poorly trained dog, no matter what method of training one might employ.

      I agree with you on choke chains and prong collars and the damage they can inflict. But not everyone who is against e-collars uses those. I’d prefer my dog to not hurt herself at all and I so I don’t use choke chains and prong collars, both of which are meant to be aversive and both of which carry the possibility for some pretty major damage (and which I see far too many folks leaving on while the dog plays, which is a recipe for disaster).

      • Viatecio says:

        You prefer your dog “not hurt herself at all”?

        What about when she runs into something, or makes a bad step while running, or encounters something that does cause her pain?

        Or, to put it more bluntly, are you deathly afraid of walls and doorways when you stub your toe, or do you pull yourself together and move on, promising yourself you’ll be more aware of where your feet go?

        Perchance you might find this an interesting read if you haven’t stumbled across it already. Because really, there are a lot of aversive things in nature. Whoever says life should be stress-free and painless has never lived, certainly not to the point where I want them giving ME advice on how to train MY dog, and to take money from me to give such advice should constitue nothing short of fraud.

        http://ruthcrisler.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/undue-temperance/

        As has been posted by someone else in another part of the internet, “Nonsense, human vanity and feelgood beliefs can, and often do far more lasting harm to dogs than corrections.”

        • Viatecio says:

          Addendum: I post this just as an aside too, with the understanding that Robin and many e-collars trainers do not use the tool as an aversive, or a substitute for a collar correction.

          The idea of an aversive stands, however.

          And don’t forget what is aversive to us is not necessarily so for dogs–see this post.

          I can attest though, that a stag beetle hurts just as much for me as it did my dog: we both are a little more careful when outside where they have traditionally been present.

        • Michelle says:

          I find anyone who WANTS their dog to hurt itself rather worrying. I’d rather she not run into things or deal with pain. I’d rather not deal with pain either. Is she GOING to hurt herself? Probably. Am I going to accidentally hurt her? Unfortunately yes. I’m sure we’ve all accidentally stepped on a paw before. But do I WANT her to experience those painful moments? Of course not. Will she? Of course. We all do.

          But I find such things radically different than inflicting pain or uncomfortable feelings in the name of training. That I DO have control over and so choose to use positive reinforcement instead. It’s not much different than choosing to teach a child using positive reinforcement instead of smacking his/her hands when the answer is wrong.

          It’s not human vanity to want to train without such things. And it’s also not doing any harm at all, much less lasting harm.

  9. Michael Burkey says:

    Yesterday I did an emergency consultation squeezing a client in my busy schedule because they were be sides themselves of what to do with their over engerized lab and their baby boy. They were mistaking the lab’s insistence on affection for being aggressive toward the boy. There was no display of aggression while I was there nor in their description. However, the dog was about to be surrendered to the shelter because of his over energized behavior, jumping, excessive licking, pulling on leash etc.

    It was becoming impossible for the mother to care for her baby and the dog who was demanding even more attention than before. Using the remote collar at the “just right level” we taught the dog not to pull and to heel within five minutes or less and the licking, head butting, pawing, grabbing arms with his mouth for attention ceased immediately by using the vibration mode of the remote collar. Two of their concerns were solved almost immediately which gives them hope on being able to train their loveable but excitable lab good manners over the next few weeks.

    Because of the remote collar, this lab will remain in his home he has had for six years. Whereas, prior to the appt, he was on his last few days of going to the shelter.

  10. mike says:

    I have seen dogs rubbing there noses on the ground till it’s raw trying to get a gentle leader off. Pretty aversive if you ask me. I think all dogs have the potential to be well trained, unless there is a medical reason as to why they can’t. I am very careful about using the word dominance around others on forums, and blogs. It does exist, yet since the debunking of dominance theory people think it is completely non existent. As a pack leader runs by a subordinate pack member and shoots him a look, the subordinate lowers his head offering appeasement behaviour. That is dominance. When people haer dominance they think of it on a physical level. Which is not often the case with dogs. Dominance aggression does exist, but is pretty uncommon, and most often mistaken for fear aggression. Dominance aggression usually shows as raised hackles, ears pinned up and slightly to the side (in kind of a v shape), tail up and stiff but possibly slightly wagging and a raised head with the corner of the lips pulled back. Though majority of the time aggression is a learned fear based behaviour. Last time I used the word dominance on a blog post it started quite an uproar.

  11. mike says:

    I have seen dogs rubbing there noses on the ground till it’s raw trying to get a gentle leader off. Pretty aversive if you ask me. I think all dogs have the potential to be well trained, unless there is a medical reason as to why they can’t. I am very careful about using the word dominance around others on forums, and blogs. It does exist, yet since the debunking of dominance theory people think it is completely non existent. As a pack leader runs by a subordinate pack member and shoots him a look, the subordinate lowers his head offering appeasement behaviour. That is dominance. When people here dominance they think of it on a physical level. Which is not often the case with dogs. Dominance aggression does exist, but is pretty uncommon, and most often mistaken for fear aggression. Dominance aggression usually shows as raised hackles, ears pinned up and slightly to the side (in kind of a v shape), tail up and stiff but possibly slightly wagging and a raised head with the corner of the lips pulled back. Though majority of the time aggression is a learned fear based behaviour. Last time I used the word dominance on a blog post it started quite an uproar.

  12. Clarice K says:

    I know that dogs can be trained to be off leash reliable using +R training. I have been impressed by some. However, as a professional dog trainer, it is not my job to “start from scratch” with a puppy or train the “easy” dogs. (Anyone who says that all dogs are equally easy to train is lying… or doesn’t know anything about dog training.) It is often my job to train the difficult dog. The dog who has many established behavior problems. The dog who is naturally too dominent or too stubborn or too shy or too prey driven. You get the idea. So I’m interested in a tool that will help me accomplish the BEST results with the MAJORITY of dogs the MAJORITY of the time. I, personally, am a big believer in the remote collar. When used properly, it allows owners to see the best results with the least stress on the dog. I do not believe that everyone needs to use the remote collar on their dogs. In fact, you should only use a tool if you’re comfortable with it. But the remote collar is MY tool of choice. That said, I can tell you that my lab mix used to run away when she saw the Gentle Leader in my hand; now she wags her tail and sits when she sees the remote collar in my hand. So I believe my dog chooses it, too.

  13. Beth says:

    Hahaha! I’m a violent type, what a joke coming from someone that is so adamant that people make assumptions about her. I guess I’m self violent too since “They make me want to rip off my ears and also beat the snot out of the person using them. ” No mention of wanting to ripping off my ears because I find the noise so aversive.

    If people want to train with clickers, e-collars, prongs, fairy farts, whatever, if you are successful and your students are successful that is all that matters to me. As it is, I will keep expanding my training toolbox to include any tools that I don’t find aversive. So, no standard clickers and no citronella collars.

  14. Mary S says:

    Look all you so called “dog trainers”….if had not been for the remote collar (after every other kind of training, treats, choker,pinch etc) I was on my way to give up my pup…but one other trainer said they promised they could help….and all of my goals and expectations were and have been exceeded beyond whatever I could imagine…matter of fact shes won titles with akc obedience and we all know (no training tools or lures) are allowed in the ring..hmmm..all off leash? Yep. With humans, dogs, and some of the highest distractions one can fear? Yep. Well, I”ll be, first places to boot!!! Here is my my main question, Why in the world can we just not all agree sometimes it takes more than one method to truly communicate with our furry best friends? I just wish my little Sophie and I had had “both” chosen the remote as our first choice, not the last….training is about having the dog understand what we are asking them to do and do it happily..guess what? My dog does just that.

  15. Beth says:

    Interesting debate. I think of myself as a balanced trainer after having been on both extremes. During my journeys as a trainer I’ve learned to never say never. For me, personally, clickers are highly aversive. They make me want to rip off my ears and also beat the snot out of the person using them. But, if another trainer wants to use them, great. I just don’t allow them in the classes I teach for the above reason. If a student can find one that doesn’t bother me, and a few have found some, then I lift that rule.

    Tools are just that, tools. And I don’t understand why some people can’t understand why training isn’t an all or nothing proposal. Use what works for you, your students and the dogs.

    • DaneLover says:

      You know, I see so many dogs come to my classes at 18 months and older whose owners tried clicker training and completely screwed up the poor animal. clicker training requires a deep understanding of classical and operant conditioning and counterconditioning and shouldn’t be for the beginner. It makes me cringe to see these pet stores teaching with a clicker after certifying their staff with a whopping two week course. I see more damage caused by incorrect clicker training than any other type of training right now. Worse, I see it turn many pet owners off of going to obedience classes because they had such a bad experience with clicker training.

  16. Mike says:

    The trick to dog training is setting yourself up for success. So yes, we always try and minimize use of aversives if possible. The results of the study are interesting as -P is always considered more kind then +P, though you are right it does not show how the quitting signal was used. Gail and Sarah you make good points, and I love how calmly you make them. Robin and Summer, you both go without saying lol. Anne I do not believe the point of this was which is better. If a dog is helped through positive based training great I am estatic that the dog suceeded. +P and -R go hand in hand, generally where there is one there is the other. Even a single leash pop uses both as the negative reinforcement is it will not be administered again. Behaviour mod can occur from +P despite what you may have heard. I stopped my dogs jumping habits by correcting him, giving him a new behaviour to perform, then praising that behaviour. It becomes pretty clear to the dog now when he greets a new person. Jump and be corrected, or sit and be pet/praised. Pretty easy decision. Operant conditioning is a learning process through BOTH rewards and punishment. I have said this a lot recently, but as a child I stuck a fork in a wall socket. I got one hell of a zap. Have I ever done it again? NO! lol. Did it scar me for life? No, I learned a valuable lesson. Same as if a dog were to fall asleep on a fire ant hill. It will not scar him for life, but he wont make the mistake twice. People often forget dogs often have aversives in the wild, and naturally learn from them.You would be suprised how happy my dog is during training, I am constantly told by others he is the happiest dog they have ever seen. That is because I train with a positive attitude and condition my dog to like working with his correction collars. As for fallout, I agree with Robin 100%. Stupidity begets stupidity. Just because someone creates fallout through use of a training tool, does not mean that is the result all the time. All it means is that they have no clue what they are doing. Educate don’t hate I always say. None the less, I enjoyed hearing your side of the debate. All the best.

  17. Summer says:

    I am pretty sure that most remote collar trainers don’t think that +R training is unsuccessful. We (just like you) believe that there are good and bad trainers out there no matter what method you use. IMO, there are some NOT so good remote collar trainers out there that give all of us a bad reputation. Then again I am sure there are some NOT so good +R trainers out there too. It seems to me that more +R trainers have a problem with “us” (the remote collar trainers or balanced trainers) than we have with “you” (+R trainers). I think that +R does work just as remote collars work & pinch collars work & choke collars work, etc, if used properly!

    The key to anything is education and we are here to educate people on the proper use of remote collar. I have a hard time understanding why some +R “people” (I say people because it’s not just trainers) think that there is no learning process when training with a remote collar. The thought is “if you have a collar on your dog then you won’t need to practice as much” or “ I just push a button” or “people are looking for a quick fix”. Hate to break it to you but owners still have to practice, there is still a learning process, you can’t just “strap a collar on and start pressing the button”. IMO, training with a remote collar is faster & more black and white for the dog.

    The whole “learned helplessness” thing….. I can tell you that I have never had a dog “that is not as willing to take chances for fear that he won’t be right”. Just sayin!

    Maybe we can just agree to disagree??

    Time to run and train more dogs.

  18. Jody Karow says:

    As someone who was a Sales Consultant for the largest shock collar company, I believe I speak from experience. I was given a great deal of training on how to sell “static collars”, how to present information about the workings of a “static correction collar”. Extensive training on how to spin the product in order to alleviate any aversiveness about the product to the consumer. All this training paid off, as I fully believed in the product myself.

    Until I witnessed personally the fallout on many dogs. I witnessed dogs that were paralyzed with fear to move off their doorstep after being trained with the collars by “professional trainers”. I witnessed dogs pee themselves out of fear. I was given no education on assessing a dog for serious fearful conditions and sold static collars for use on such dogs. I personally have four dogs that were trained via a “professional trainer” that are terrified of the fire alarm alerting the battery needs to be changed. I no longer can watch “The Biggest Loser” with my dog anywhere in the house, as he associates the beep of the scale on the show with getting shocked. I never “liked” shocking my dogs in order to get a particular behavior, but I was led to believe it was the necessary evil (my own words). I would never even consider this type of punishment or reinforcement tool to shape a child’s behavior. The collars are sold to anyone with the money to make the purchase, to use in anyway they so choose. Are tazors sold at Home Depot? Consumers are utilizing with no knowledge of proper use and sadly are putting them on already fearful dogs. Which any Behaviorist with the education in its use would never do.

    There was no education on Operant and Classical Conditioning, Science -Based Animal Learning. I since have sought the education. After obtaining the knowledge of how animals learn, I choose to never use harsh aversives again. Yes, with absolute accurate timing and utilization these methods do work. But, my question is once you have the appropriate education to obtain the same reliable behaviors without the potential fallout – Why Would You?

    • Robin says:

      Hi Jody, Thank you for chiming in. I am fairly certain I can speak for my colleagues as well as myself in that not one of us would disagree with you that these tools can cause problems when not utilized correctly, with knowledge and empathy. I too have seen dogs on fence systems that are afraid to leave the porch. I have seen dogs lay down and not move as soon as a collar was placed on their neck. I am not denying that, saying I approve of it or that I am immune to the heartbreak of it. That has never been my stance. Neither is it my stance that they should be banned as a result of those who have used this tool poorly. If we go down that route there is no end to what we need to ban. I have seen dogs cower and pee themselves for more than just electronics. There are #$%holes in the world who are cruel. There are those also who simply have little clue how to use this device as something other than the “bigger hammer” or a last resort option. Those misconceptions are just some of the reasons I continue this course and subject myself to experiences such as what has gone on with this blog the last couple days…perhaps I can change the tide in how this tool is used.
      I can also assure you it frustrates me to no end that the manufacturers have not done an even half way decent job of educating people on how to use this equipment. I would like to see them all step up. Having been in conversations with contacts from just about every major manufacturer I believe they are just realizing their responsibility to do so and we will see changes. If it was all up to me and I was the goddess of training it would happen FAST…but alas I haven’t gained that magic power yet. 🙂 But believing that change is possible is why I work with all of them rather than lambasting. I have never been the type of person to sit aside and just lament how terrible everyone else is doing it. I am much better at rolling up my sleeves and seeing what can be done to improve the situation. If you look at animal abuse cases, find how many involve remote collars? Does that make improper use right..no. But abuse and cruelty will not end if these tools are taken off the market, nor will their removal suddenly jump start an individuals desire to learn more about conditioning and animal learning. If we want improper use to end we need to do a WAY better job of educating about proper use. That is my stance and I have yet to waiver on it.

  19. Gail Brookhart says:

    I think that, all other factors being equal, dogs have zero problem with training that employs electronic collars. I actually think that Robin is asking questions that are far to easy to get right.

    To me, the only blanket statements that apply are “Were you good to your dog?” or “Were you bad to your dog?” Those have next to nothing to do with method and have everything to do with the person wielding the method.

    Are electronic collars bad because they can be misused? No.
    Is it bad to use an electronic collar to harm a dog? Yes.

    Is using food to train dogs bad because it can be misused? No.
    Is misusing food to train dogs a bad thing? Yes.

    Abuse leads to abused dogs. Methods are not the cause of abuse. People are the cause of abuse. It never ceases to amaze me that educated, rational adults so easily fall down the slippery slope into drawing other conclusions.

    If a dog is trained with an electronic collar to be a fearful mass of jelly, it’s got nothing to do with the collar and everything to do with the sociopath holding the controller.

      • Anne Springer says:

        So, then, can you please tell me what quadrant of operant conditioning you are using to effect behavior change? What is it about shock collars, even used, as you say “properly” that makes them effective? I don’t see how you could possibly argue your way out of the fact that it’s either +P or -R without bending the science to the point of breaking. The dog is either working toward a reinforcement or to avoid an aversive. Learned helplessness is NOT the equivalent of unhappiness all the time, but it is certainly a more global suppression of behavior than I want from my dogs. I enjoy shaping complex behavior, and do not want a dog that is not as willing to take chances for fear that he won’t be right. That makes for an obedient *looking* partner, which is why your videos of perfect heeling convince many people to adopt shock training. But, it doesn’t suit my wish for my dogs, which is that they be willing participants that feel safe asking, “Is this what you wanted?” knowing that the worst that will happen is that the reinforcement won’t be produced unless it is what I wanted. Then, all they have to do is try again, not receive a “tap” or a “reminder” that is as unpleasant as hitting that metal doorknob after you just scuffed across the living room rug.

          • Anne Springer says:

            Let me rephrase the question so that you cannot dodge it with such an oversimplification. Can you specifically tell us which quadrant(s) the shock collar falls into the very first time you introduce it to a dog?
            Also, can you tell us your understanding of the difference between training some behaviors using a clicker, and “clicker training”? That point is often so misunderstood by people who think that they can successfully mix methods, when, in reality, the fact that they do so prevents them from completely realizing the benefit of clicker training for their dogs.

          • Robin says:

            You can rephrase it as much as you want Anne. We have done this on several forums over the course of months. You and I will go around and around adnauseam. My answers will never be what you want to hear. I see things differently than you. I can agree to disagree. My apologies go out to those who have told me they are continually impressed by my level of patience in dealing with the type of badgering Anne and similar types like to participate in. I am sorry if I disappoint this time, but every dog has their point of breaking. Piss off Anne. Perhaps you can’t mix methods successfully, you may have many limitations. I don’t know, never actually met you. I however, can. I do it really, really well.

          • Anne Springer says:

            The issue is not whether someone can train using any or all methods. So, your snide little reference about me not being able to do so is ridiculous. The issue really is that if you use punishment *with* clicker training (or marker training for violent types who would like to “beat the snot” out of trainers who use clickers) is that it defeats the whole purpose of doing so. A fact which is perpetually lost on those who wish to defend pain-inducing techniques, however benign *you* think they are, as a method. If you are going to use a marker, why choose the pain-inducing one? People who say that the dog can’t hear the clicker over distance, or that you have to carry treats or clickers forever, don’t have a clue what’s really entailed in this method. Their ignorance shows every time they post. Sad really.

        • Summer Milroy says:

          “People who say that the dog can’t hear the clicker over distance, or that you have to carry treats or clickers forever, don’t have a clue what’s really entailed in this method. Their ignorance shows every time they post. Sad really.”
          I find it funny that you post this Anne since your type say the same thing about remote collar training (“the dog won’t behave with out a collar” or “why would I want to carry a remote around all the time” etc.) So maybe that means people who say that “don’t have a clue what’s really entailed in this method” ? I guess the ignorance shows every time they post.

          Either way, you bash people even trying to learn about clicker training. I would know, since you & other bashed me (and other balanced trainers) on a clicker group on FB for not totally agreeing with you & god forbid, using more than one method to train a dog. I was amazed that I received messages from others on that group saying how negative the so called “positive” trainers were being.

          Why don’t you focus more of your time on training dogs with your method then constantly bashing others for the way they choose to train?

          • Michael Burkey says:

            Yup I was treated the same way on the clicker page. I was called out as a shock collar trainer and therefore, an
            “animal abuser” by the clicker trainers even though I use to be a clicker trainer and sometimes still use a clicker.

            I purposely asked for us to discuss clicker training since that is what the site was about but instead the members keep bashing me and trying to get me to discuss remote collar training. After my numerous attempts to get the clicker folks to talk about clicker training, I explained that the way I used the remote was different than what many were probably thinking just so there wouldn’t be confusion as to how I used it (at low levels and not the old style way of training). I was then rudely kicked off the site. So so much for clicker trainers being positive, open to others discussing and sharing about clicker training, and just being professional toward others.

            Ian Dunbar was right when he said that he finds that it is usually the +R trainers that are the ones who are punitive toward other trainers and their clients. I have certainly found this to be true.

        • Gail Brookhart says:

          Anne, if your question was directed at me (and I’m not certain it was but will assume so since it was on a thread of this conversation where I participated) I’ll give you an answer.

          I use all quadrants of training as a trainer. All quadrants can create a desired change in behavior. I do not use all quadrants equally. I choose an approach that is in the best interests of the dog. It depends on the dog, on the behavior desired, on the behaviors we might have to get out of the way before we can put in a new behavior, on the tools at hand, on the time available and on the myriad other variables that make singling out one tool to call it bad or good an exercise in futility.

          As for what makes a shock collar effective? Nothing. A shock collar cannot train a dog. Neither can a clicker or an entire side of beef. They all just lie there, doing nothing at all, until an action moves through them to affect the dog’s behavior. Training may make use of these tools and others but training is not the tool.

          What makes training effective? An effective trainer.
          What makes a shock collar effective? An effective trainer.
          What makes training humane? A humane trainer.
          What makes training inhumane? An inhumane trainer.
          What makes a shock collar inhumane? An inhumane trainer.
          What makes a shock collar ineffective? An ineffective trainer.

          There’s a pattern there.

          If someone abused a dog through training, the collar, the clicker, the flavor of cheese, the length of the leash didn’t do it. If someone failed to train a dog, they can’t blame the tools because the tools aren’t the trainer. The trainer does the training, not the tool.

          • DaneLover says:

            This is best summed up in the human workd by this question: Do guns kill people or do the people holding the guns kill people? A gun is just an inanimate object until a human makes a decision how to use it. Same with training and training tools.

  20. Dave says:

    Candy, Marley, Omar. All were written off by MANY “Positive Only” trainers. I pulled Omar on his LAST morning of life. All 3 were positively e collars trained, rehomed and loving life.

    • Anne Springer says:

      Pudge-Ozzy-Orca. All improved or saved by positive training. So what?
      You are using logic that doesn’t prove anything. Incompetence is incompetence no matter which method a trainer uses. There are just as many examples of dogs that were saved by positive training and behavior mod after poor experiences with so called balanced trainers. Gimme a break.

    • Sarah F says:

      I’ve saved quite a few dogs in the time I’ve been training too, but I don’t use an e-collar. Good for you for saving them by the way.

  21. mike_m943@hotmail.com says:

    Sure, I will gladly post it. I am unsure if it is the full version, however you will not have a hard time finding the full study if this is not it, having the name of the study and those who did it. I did not mean that positive reinforcement alone is stressful, but training with negative punishment and positive reinforcement. Many are unaware of what aversives truly are. Yelling no is an aversive. Witholding treats is an aversive. Clipping a dog on to a leash is an aversive (i’m not crazy it truly is). Negative punishment is used a lot by positive based trainers who claim to be “pure positive”. Meanwhile those with any understanding of dog training know there is no such thing, and that it is a marketing gimmick used to emotionally black mail potential clients. The jist of the study is they took saliva samples during the training, then measured cortisol levels (a stress hormone). Shockingly (no pun intended), the e collar produced the least amount of stress. The only biast I was able to find was that they used one single breed. If you can find anymore I would love to hear it (so long as the conversation stays on an intellectual level). A lot of the current “science” that proves positive training to be more effective, or that aversives are harmful are junk science. I refer to this study way to often, but the study on aversives from the university of pensylvania was a joke. A five year old could refute it. I know there are some great positive based trainers, but believe me there are some great “balanced” ones. Here it is:
    http://www.ecma.eu.com/Comparison%20of%20stress%20and%20learning%20effects%20of%20three%20different%20training%20methods%20in%20dogs.pdf

    • Sarah F says:

      Thanks for posting! 🙂 Yes I agree that anyone who says they train without aversives doesn’t really understand operant conditioning. You are right when you say all of those things are aversive, they are. It’s not that a reinforcement training, like I could call myself, doesn’t use aversives, it’s only that there is an attempt to minimize them. Does that make sense? Funny I have made the exact same argument you just made to someone else. I think there is a misunderstanding about “positive” training. It’s not that everything is done without aversives, but aversive is avoided or minimized as a choice by the trainer. This is done by reinforcing behaviours you like, training incompatible behaviours for those you don’t or managing (preventing) what you can’t train or haven’t yet from happening. In the real life your dog will do things you don’t like, you address this, calmly and firmly, and then instead of continually correcting a behaviour over and over and over, you would think of an alternate behaviour you could teach the dog to do instead and train it with positive reinforcement.

    • Sarah F says:

      I have a question about this study….they are comparing using an e-collar, a pinch, and a conditioned quitting signal. They do not say how the quitting signal was conditioned, however. We’re not really looking at an e-collar vs. reinforcement training her but just the stress levels each cause. Thanks for posting.

  22. Diane Garrod says:

    My three Belgian Tervurens are happily no on e-collars. They are trained to have freedom, collar free – check in automatically no matter where we are, recall reliably, wait for me at trail Ys to see which way we are going, move through and past dogs off lead and enjoy not ever having to have experienced shocking them to make them do anything. Three intact male Belgian Tervurens know what is right to do, without having to fear punishment. It is truly joyful. Just hope everyone knows there are alternatives without having to instigate an argument. We all “decide for our dogs” and one more decision I make in addition to the list above, is that my dogs will never wear a device that would bring them pain. I think that is one decision for true freedom.

    Interesting comments.

    • Robin says:

      I am glad you are happy with your 3 Tervs and their level of training Diane. I am honestly happy when ever someone trains their dog. However, your success with your training your dogs does not prove dogs wearing an e-collar are fearing punishment. That is your opinion and you are welcome to it. My dogs run with joy and abandon when given permission and return with the same joy. While I understand the battle that continues to rage amongst those who have either never seen e-training done well or who have previously participated in e-training done poorly the blanket assumption that all e-training is based on fear/pain and intimidation is quickly being put to rest as more and more people are choosing this option. IF that statement were not fact and e-training were actually declining there would be no need for groups to form who’s sole mission is to ban the tool. The comments are interesting on this post because I have posed a provocative question..as always hindsight is 20/20 and perhaps I would have been better served to ask the question would your dog chose this if given a choice between freedom off leash and remaining on leash for their life? Would they chose it in a live vs die situation? I believe the vast majority of dogs trained with the ideology of “all positive” do not achieve the freedom I speak of and many are condemned to a life sentence of significant restrictions….no off leash, no being near other dogs, no being too near children, no exposure to said trigger, etc…limitation, limitation, limitation are often the prescription. While I hear many trainers discuss how their dogs are off leash reliable, I haven’t heard what percentage of clients dogs are and how long did it take to achieve it. The question of time is relevant. Now the answer to why does “all positive” fail so many dogs may actually be “it wasn’t being done correctly, or coached by a knowledgeable professional” Ok, I’ll bite, but when a client comes to me after 2 or 3 failures with the “all positive” approach and I put an e-collar on the dog and find a solution for the owner…is it not plausible that my success with that client and dog may be based on doing it correctly coached by a knowledgeable professional.
      What is most interesting about the entire debate is that some trainers continue to want a strong line in the sand. Either right or wrong, either this camp or not. No middle, no tolerance. I have read the phrase “this is war” written by some. That is not getting us to a place best suited to helping the average dog owner live their life successfully with their dog. Nor is it helping anyone “cross over” if conversion is ones goal. It only creates more drama and more people becoming firmly planted on their side of the line. History has demonstrated this time and time again and yet we continue down that path…the weakness of human nature I suppose. Thank you for your comments, all the best.

      • Sarah F says:

        I think your argument on this blog is a bit biased. If my dog had to choose between freedom and no freedom, they would probably choose freedom. However if they had to choose between freedom with an e-collar and freedom trained with reinforcement methods (and not not ALL positive just humane punishment) I think, myself, they would choose no e-collar. You are making the assumption that the e-collar is necessary for freedom, which it is not. It’s like saying would you rather be dead or in jail? Whereas when given all options (dead, jail, free to live as you choose) you’d probably not choose jail when you may have with the first options. So when you say freedom with e-collar or no freedom at all, it doesn’t really compare to freedom without an e-collar, freedom dependant on an e-collar, or no freedom at all. And are you ever able to not use the e-collar any more? With the training I do, we can fade the tool, as returning to the handler and release back to freedom becomes very highly reinforcing in itself. So what would my dogs choose? Well I think they would choose to be taught with as positive a method as possible, which is why I have chosen to train the way I do. I’ve been very successful even with “difficult” dogs and so have my clients. Think of all the people you know who use e-collars incorrectly in your opinion. There are just as many who train with “positive” methods and do it poorly, too. We all pick our own ethics….I can’t tell you or anyone else what to do, but I am enjoying this discussion. Cheers.

  23. Angela Bentley says:

    I have four e-collar trained dogs and train lots of happy obedient dogs for pet owners. One big misconception I hear from people when they think “shock collar” is their lumping Invisible fence collars, bark collars, and e-collars into one category. E-collars are adjustable to very low levels so that they do not cause pain. This gives the owner the option of using the collar as a marker and not as a punishment, like Invisible fence or bark collars.

    • Robin says:

      might want to add “quality e-collars”. Unfortunately they are not all the same. It is like any other bit of technology, some are higher quality than others.

      • Angela Bentley says:

        True. That also answers the question about why spend so much money on a high end collar. They are NOT all equal.

    • Sarah F says:

      I just have to ask, if you are using them on a low level as a marker why spend the big bucks on a high end e-collar? Why not just another neutral stimulus?

      • Linda Kaim says:

        Because a dog can’t hear a clicker at 500 yards. Because a dog can’t hear a clicker when he’s 100 feet away from his handler apprehending the bad guy. Because a dog can’t hear the clicker when he’s in the surf after sea ducks. Because a dog can’t hear the clicker when he’s in the wind on the trail of the hare or the hog or the ‘coon. Because there are a variety of real-life scenarios where the noise is not only ineffective but impractical.

        • Sarah F says:

          I never said it had to be a clicker. I said any neutral stimulus. A clicker is a fairly quiet noise and it is suitable for close to mid range training at best. What about a whistle? And thank you for the answer I do appreciate it. I’m not trying to be snarky, just putting up honest questions looking for an honest answer.

        • Anne Springer says:

          It’s ridiculous to make that comparison. A dog can hear a whistle at 500 yards or more. Shepherds in Wales don’t seem to have any trouble maneuvering their herding dogs over wide expanses of terrain without e-collars. How do you all think trainers get successful responses from their dogs in countries where shock collars are illegal?

          • Linda Kaim says:

            Exactly *how* is it ridiculous Ann? A dog can blow off a whistle too at those distances. I guarantee there was some form of aversives applied to get stock dogs to consistently work. And again, the question wasn’t about the banning of collars, as much as you would like to steer it that way, it was about the collar being used instead of a different, neutral stimulus. Having seen stock dogs trained, I can assure you, it’s not all Unicorn horns and fairy dust.

            Conditioned reinforcers are symbolically tertiary, secondary or primary reinforcers. The dog has to take ownership for this information at distances where he is quite cognizant of the fact that he is no longer under his handlers’ control.

            How do you think that’s done?

  24. mike says:

    Any dog who exhibits redirected aggression from an e collar stim is simply being over corrected. You can have the same results happen with any training tool. I have seen aggression as a result of negative punishment (withholding reward in simple terms). The owner did not follow through with the reward, as the dog had not performed right and had her dog lunge at her for it. I think your missing the big picture here. What you would call “trained” another may not. Go to a reputable obedience competition, and speak with the top competitors. I have no doubt they will tell you they trained with all forms of operant conditioning, not just one. So in turn, positive trainers are the ones who 1) produce weaker results, and 2) don’t have all the proper tools. Please do not take this as me bashing +R trainers, I do not believe in petty name calling. Though as I was saying, feel free to test what I said. Proper use of positive punishment does no harm to a dog (I mean PROPER use), mentally or physically. There has been a study done that shows negative punishment and positive reinforcement to cause more stress then an e collar. This is because it is more stressful for a dog to constantly be guessing then oppose to having black and white instructions on what to do. Ask yourself when are you stressed, when you know what to do or when not to do. Perhaps it was a little unfair for you to say people who use these tools are lazy (I for one spend 14 hours a week minimum training). As there are more skilled, and more educated trainers then yourself that use aversives out there. Ones who take on cases that you would not even consider, or think there was no hope for the dog. My comments are not made to antagonize anyone in anyways, so please do not take what I say to heart; it is afterall just my opinion. None the less happy training.

  25. Anne Springer says:

    My dogs have outdoor freedom because they have solid recalls which were trained using nothing but +R and -P, meaning that no painful stimuli, such as electric shock, was ever applied to any of them. This includes my most recently adopted dog, a large scent hound, that was adopted as an adult. The way that I taught my three dogs to recall was to make their very first association with the recall sound (two are on voice cue, one on whistle cue) exceptionally reinforcing. I then used a very high constant rate of reinforcement associated with the sound. Next, I used a variable schedule of reinforcement, backed up by not giving the dog freedom before he/she was sufficiently proofed in the behavior in non-distracting locations, then progressively more distracting locations. I didn’t give them any opportunity to be reinforced by blowing me off and getting to do something more entertaining – rather, I made “come” the best game in the world, and I worked to make myself the most interesting thing in their world. Get to me and you get liver, get to me and we play tug, get to me and I give you tripe before I release you back to play with your friends, get to me and I LET you chase that squirrel or I fling that frisbee or I throw the ball, or we go for a ride, or we go for a swim (Google Premack). My dogs WANT to be with me because I never inflict pain or harsh words on them, I simply educate them and convince them that I am the bearer of every resource they want – if you do this correctly it works. If you need to use a shock collar to keep your dog with you, or have it recall successfully, you haven’t learned enough about how operant conditioning works – all the quadrants WORK. The question is not *whether* they do or not. Properly applied, they work. This debate is really about personal ethics, not method. Anyone can mess up either method, or implement it “correctly.” The real issue, and the one which keeps getting skirted, is what kind of relationship do you want with a dog? One in which he is acting in certain ways to obtain resources that he likes and wants, or one in which he’s acting in certain ways to avoid unpleasant stimuli??? Simple as that really. No amount of euphemizing makes an electric shock into something else. It’s still an electric shock, and by its nature is initially an unpleasant stimulus, thus not something I would choose to use. All dogs learn in the same way. There is no breed immune to operant conditioning, and there are no dogs that learn differently because they have more or less drive than other dogs. Those arguments are a cover-up for mechanical errors in training, or a trainer’s failure to figure out how to motivate a given dog. I used to have a riding instructor years ago who gave me the best advice I ever got when it came to how I should deal with a horse that was underperforming. She said, “It’s always the rider, never the horse.” It’s always the trainer, never the dog.

    • Robin says:

      Hi Anne, I don’t think the issue of relationship gets skirted at all. I want and produce a dog who wants to work with me, not one who works with me only because of some feared consequence of not doing so. That is an assumption you are making and applying to anyone who chooses this tool. Congratulations on your choices, I am honestly glad they have worked well for you, but please don’t accuse me of cover up, euphemizing or saying things that I did not simply because you do not agree with my perspective. For the vast majority I agree it always the trainer and never the dog (on occasion there is an underlying issue that creates limitation)…which is why I have great luck and good positive attitude with my e-collar trained dogs and you would not..it is a matter of how we would apply the tool based on our level of knowledge about it.

      • Anne Springer says:

        Robin,
        It was nice of you to at least print our comments this time, rather than blocking us. Just one additional point, however. If you call shock anything but shock, you ARE euphemizing. The same way you do when you call us “cookie trainers” which in no way describes what we really do. Operant conditioning is dependent upon what the DOG finds reinforcing. The dog that prefers a frisbee to food, well, the best reinforcer for that dog might be a frisbee and not food. But, when you use positive punishment (+P), by definition you have added an aversive to reduce the possibility that a behavior will recur. I simply don’t think it’s necessary to do that, and would much prefer to use the -P and +R quadrants. You are right about one thing – I would never get very good results using an e-collar, but only because I would never use one. I do understand the quadrants of operant conditioning quite well, and get very good results from the quadrants I mentioned, to the extent that I have completely crossed over from any form of punishment-based training to force free training. Some day I hope that more trainers will attempt it. I do feel that as long as you mix the methods (so called “balanced” training), you never fully realize the power of positive training. It was only when I took a dog, tabula rasa, and raised it completely positively, that I really “got it.”

        • Robin says:

          As usual I have a hard time following you Anne…not sure when I blocked you. As I stated, this blog is moderated. I’m the moderator. The rules are simple here, no threats, no name calling. And while we are on the subject of name calling, please site one incident in the life-time of my career when I called anyone a “cookie trainer”. I have never called you nor a group “cookie trainers”…for I myself would fit that description as I see it…course I see myself as a positive reinforcement trainer also, and a clicker trainer…but again, because your descriptions don’t fit mine I can’t be in your club the way it is defined. My desire to maintain my options deem me inappropriate for membership. I am a lowly dog trainer with a large tool box. Perhaps some anger toward “others” who used the term “cookie trainer” with a negative connotation has you confusing me with that someone else. Again I will bid you good day and hope that our ability to agree to disagree is enough for now.

  26. Catherine M. says:

    The biggest issue I see with e-collars is re-directed aggression. I have seen dogs turn and bite the nearest thing to them when shocked. It happens frequently, and it is frightening. However, when I first got my pointer five years ago – BEFORE I became a trainer – I didn’t know better and used an e-collar to make sure I didn’t lose him chasing birds on the barrier island that we take him to. My mentor, seeing this one day while out with us, asked me why I used this piece of equipment IN A CONVERSATIONAL AND NON-JUDGMENTAL WAY. We got talking about alternatives. And I trained using the positive methods she guided me in.

    It worked, and now I cringe to think of what I did to my dog. He was smart, and I only ever had to use the “beep” or “vibrate” after the initial shock. But that initial shock even at the lowest level was traumatic, and it was clear that he was seeking to avoid it whenever the collar beeped or vibrated. That’s the definition of an aversive, and I don’t use them any more in training. I don’t need to! My pointer and cattle dog respond beautifully to hand signals at more than 100 yards.

    So I really believe that most people using e-collars (note that I don’t call them “shock collars,” as it puts people using them on the defensive) either A) don’t have the set of tools/knowledge how to train the same result without using aversives, or B) are too interested in quick results to bother. I like to think A is the majority of the folks currently using them, and it should be the mission of trainers who have a full tool kit to teach them.

    My dogs choose to return for a throw of their frisbee, not be shocked into returning. It works wonderfully for all of us.

    HAPPY TRAINING.

    • Robin says:

      Hi Catherine, Thank you for your comments. I hear a lot about re-directed aggression, but I don’t personally see it. But then again, that is probably because I am so immersed in teaching people how to collar condition their dogs in such a way that they are not using a high level aversive or using stim in a trigger situation as a punishment for “bad” behavior. By conditioning the dogs to e-stim properly (or my judgement of “proper”) the dogs do not equate the sensation with pain and the other dog/person/object being the cause of it. But I can absolutely see how it happens. That is one of the main reasons I’ve stepped onto this platform to educate…to try and get people to understand they should not slap an e-collar on the dog and use it as a punishment for doing “bad”. Unfortunately I suspect I still have a good way to go in that message as it is the idea that not only comes to mind first with most of the average dog owners but it is the idea promoted by many dog trainers who would rather see the tool banned than allow anyone to talk of other ways to use it…
      As for why most people that use e-collars do so…I can tell you my reason is because of the finesse it creates in my training and the speed I can allow more freedom for my dogs. For the record I started out “all positive” in my early days of training, I’ve seen the polar opposite, strong compulsion as well..I’ve studied many techniques and tools and worked with a variety of trainers so although many label me a “shock collar” trainer I label myself as balanced. I see tremendous value in what many of the “all positive” teach and I utilize much of it…but I find there is such division and name calling among many (and from my perspective it is primarily from those standing in the all positive camp) that we’ve lost much of the ability to learn from one another…that is sad.
      ..but I digress…as for why I think many average folks choose e-collars…I believe it is the way of our modern life; speed & efficiency. Most people do need results quickly. I don’t think that makes them bad people. Just busy people. They want a dog to enjoy it, to truly have it part of their lifestyle but dog’s do dog things that drive the average person to frustration (which is when we don’t want them to buy an e-collar and try to “do it themselves”) The e-collar, used as a communication device to deliver very clear communication between yes/no (please let’s not go down the path that no must = pain) is fast, fast = human being reinforced and therefore not give up = frustration going away and more patience developing, that = more opportunity to educate and teach even more…that leads to more people doing more with their dogs. I can only speak from my experience but since embarking on this “e-collar is part of my training program” path I can say that the number of people I have doing more and more with their dogs is astounding. I’ve personally overseen more than 3000 dogs trained this way and am at the point nearly 15 years later that I have clients returning with their 2 and 3rd dogs telling me “there is no other way I’d do it now Robin”. I am not suggesting it can’t be done other ways…I will argue though it can’t be done as quickly or with the same ease. If it happened because I was causing pain/fear & intimidation, re-directed aggression, learned helplessness or tremendous fall out down the road (words according to the anti collar crowd)….well people aren’t stupid, they would not keep coming back with their brand new puppies asking when can we get started.
      all that said….I don’t think the e-collar is the cure all, magic fix. I think it is a tool, a tool that can be a very valuable asset to a balanced approach to training. It all depends on the level of knowledge of the person holding the remote. Again, thank you for your comment and polite conversation. It is appreciated. Happy Training to you as well. Robin

  27. Sarah F says:

    I just wanted to share that all three of my dogs are fully off leash trained for high distractions fully with rewards based training. Two of them are siberian huskies, which are notorious for not being able to be off leash trained. They are excellent. I can call them from people, other dogs, and distractions like ducks and deer. All without using an e-collar, this freedom was obtained and it wasn’t even really difficult. So just so you know, you don’t need an e-collar in order to let your dogs have freedom. I’m not saying you are a bad person or evil or anything, it is my choice to train without one and I think it’s important for people to understand that it IS possible to train high off leash reliability without the use of aversive methods or electronic collars.

    • Robin says:

      Sarah, Thank you for your post and congratulations on the level of training you have achieved with your dogs. For the record I don’t think anyone has to use an e-collar either. I think it is an option and if people choose it my goal is they learn to use it correctly and without undue stress on the dog. I particularly appreciate your words: I’m not saying you are a bad person or evil or anything, it is my choice The attitude of acceptance amongst dog enthusiasts and professionals would do the dog world a whole lot more good than the name calling and drawing lines in the sand that is so prevalent. Have a lovely day. Robin

        • Sarah F says:

          If you are using them on a low level as a conditioned marker, why spend the money on a high end e-collar? Why not use a cheap neutral stimulus. This is what confuses me. If they’re just being used as a marker, what makes them so special to warrant the large price tag? That seems like a very expensive marker signal to me.

          I think in response to your blog, my dogs love their freedom, but given the choice they would rather be trained with reward and reinforcement based methods than an e-collar.

          • Ilan says:

            i adopted a dog that was extremely dog aggressive. I tried virtually every form of training over 4 years with no results to the point of not only spending thousands, stressing out everyday, and subjecting my dog to situations that didn’t help. In my case the e-collar is a godsend. It’s easy to say you have your dogs since they are puppies or adopted a dog that isn’t aggressive and to project that on to everyone elses case. It isn’t the case for all of us. An e-collar is a specific tool for a specific scenerario. For me it saved my dogs life.

        • Robin says:

          Sarah, you can find many examples of my work and others like me YouTube and in our blogs. However if you truly want to learn I suggest you come here and study it for a while or I can refer you to an expert in your area. I personal do not believe one can truly comprehend the art of training by reading it in written format…but perhaps that is just me.

          • Sarah F says:

            Hi Robin, I’m willing to learn thats why I am asking questions. You want to educate, I’m ready to be educated. I would be willing to attend a seminar or something if there was one close enough. I live in a pretty remote area in Canada though so talking online is about the best I can do right now. I’m open minded, and would love it if you could give me an answer. I can explain simply to you why I choose to train the way I do. If you cannot explain simply to me why you choose to use the tools you do and how you use them, I will assume you don’t understand well enough to educate me. So please try, I would appreciate it.

          • Robin says:

            Hi Sarah,…Why I chose to use the tools I do. because they are the easiest tools to teach people to use that gain fairly rapid results with minimal stress. If people see real results quickly, they keep going rather than give up. For the dogs I chose the tool because of the clarity. I believe the learning is so black and white that the level of stress is actually less than other methods. I also believe one of the most gratifying things we can do for a dog is to routinely un-clip the leash and let them “be dogs”. For the average pet owner to do that safely, in a fairly quick time frame, we need an insurance policy that we can get the dogs attention back to us if they become diverted to something else. As far as how I do it, I’m not willing to attempt to write it all down, there are many variables… However, I will send you copies of my dvds which goes over the bare bone mechanics of the process. If you are willing to pay for the shipping to Canada and send your address, I will get them on the way.

  28. Linda Kaim says:

    Considering that many times the ecollar is the difference between life or certain death for a lot of dogs, I think a better question would be to ask them if they prefer life.

    I can think of more than a few dogs whose owners had given up on them and were on the verge of euthanizing their pet before deciding to try the collar. I have yet to meet a person who regretted it, nor a dog who resented it.

    My dogs are very eager when they see the collars come out. It means they are going somewhere and doing things that they enjoy. I have had dogs grab “their” collar off the counter and bring it to me to put on them so we could go for a trek.

    The annoying whinging about the cruelty of collar use and how inhumame they are is from a group of people who have either never witnessed their use in capable hands or are going on the speculation of third-party accounts.

    Like I said, I think if a dog was given a choice between euthanasia and ecollars, I’m pretty convinced they would choose to live.

    • Anne Springer says:

      The choice is NEVER between euthanasia and shock collars. The choice is between proper application of the science of behavior modification, owner or trainer skill and commitment, or lack thereof. I find the incessant whining about positive principles not being successful at behavior modification a bit annoying.

      • Robin says:

        Positive principles are not unsuccessful. The idea of all positive training without ANY form of aversive is a myth. Much of simple management protocols are aversive. I don’t believe it should be a choice between euthanasia and “shock collar training” either. However, case in point…the current dog I have in board and train spoke to a “behaviorist” in Madison, WI who told the dog’s owner “If you take the dog to Robin you might as well kill her now”. Nice. Me thinks if I get verifiable data of that quote there will be a bit of public humiliation I will be proud to point out to the folks who say such nonsense and have NO personal or first hand experience of what I do or don’t do. All based on a tool that I am outspoken about…

      • Linda Kaim says:

        Maybe not for your client(s) Ann, but I get a fair bit of them here. As a matter of fact, one or two from “trainers” of your acquaintance right here, in good Ole’ Maryland.

        I get calls DAILY from people who are at their wits end, who have been told by the resident gurus, vets and other trainers that their dogs are hazards and are better off dead.

        For me it is about more than that though. I see a fair bit of dogs who were poorly served by the training they encountered and their owners never gave up. Which is why I get these dogs, because no-one else would work with them, or sucked their owners dry only to cut them loose with no resolution to their problems.

        So, about the science. How could you possibly know? You only apply one or at the outset two quadrants. *I* find the incessant whining about the abridged understanding of (the science of) behavior modification a bit annoying.

      • Ilan says:

        i spent thousands on “positive behavior modification” from top trainers to correct my dog and none of them could correct his behavior. With less than one month on the collar hes completely different. He’s happier, more calm, more trusting, and most of all more confident. It’s very easy to claim any dog can be rehabbed without a collar but i know from my case that wasn’t reality. So let’s stay within the boundaries of the real world and get off our high horse k

  29. Michelle says:

    I’d just like to point out that I personally know at least a few people who have responded here (myself included) and our comments have clearly not shown up. Please don’t ask questions of your readers if you only want to hear one answer. You asked “Would your dog choose…” The answer could be yes. Or no. But clearly you don’t want to hear “no” because that doesn’t play into your cause. If you’re not going to allow dissenting views, then perhaps you should let folks know everything is moderated because it’s rude to let people take the time to make their case and then you never let it see the light of day.

    I’m going to call it as I see it: You’re cowards. I know this won’t make it out of moderated status, but you’ll read it anyway. If you can’t handle dissent, you are cowards, plain and simple. And it seems that most shock collar trainers are complete cowards. I’m not surprised. Most bullies are.

    • Robin says:

      I will reply to this one first Michelle. This blog is moderated. It is stated in the About section as are the rules of what is allowed. Dissenting opinions are allowed, debate is encouraged. Name calling and threats are not. I’ve gotten more than my share of that since “coming out of the closet” regarding e-collar use. Moderating means the comments by new users wait in the cue until I get to them. I didn’t get to them last night because I actually go to bed and sleep. Then I get up, I take care of my dogs, I eat breakfast, talk to my family, get cleaned up and then come to work. THEN I check my e-mail and blog. Oh, and I take weekends off for the most part too. I believe in balance in all aspects of my life so if comments come in late Sat or Sun they usually don’t show till Monday.

      Thanks for calling me a coward and bully though. Name calling is so “positive”. Have a lovely day.
      Robin

      • Michelle says:

        And on a side note, I bet you’re as happy with my “punishment” as most dogs are when punishment is inflicted on them. Just something to think about. I know I won’t get you to change your mind, but it’s just something to ruminate on.

        • Ilan says:

          you honestly are making yourself and your “cause” seem pathetic. You can sit on a high horse and trash talk all you like. Instead i suggest you go adopt an aggressive dog that is going to be euthanized and rehabilitate him using your methods. Do some good in the world instead of coming on forums and name calling.

      • Michelle says:

        I apologize for this. I know you and the rest are pissed at me about this one post and due to it you all think I’m some idiot. I was tired and stupidly listened to someone who told me you were someone else, someone who tends to delete anything that disagrees with her and then blocks those people from posting at all. I should have done my research first instead of just taking what someone said at face value, which was my first mistake. Letting my irritation get the better of me was my second mistake. It was only later when I went to look at this person’s videos on youtube that I thought “gee that doesn’t look like the same person” and realized it wasn’t. I felt bad and I admit I was totally embarrassed by my unwarranted attack on someone who didn’t deserve the ire that was directed toward someone else.

        So I apologize for attacking you. It was done without thinking and it was a stupid thing to do.

        I’m really not a bad person. But sometimes we all do stupid things, especially on the internet.

        • Robin says:

          Thank you Michelle. I don’t think you are a bad person, how could I, I don’t know you. Despite the words that may be exchanged between myself and those who disagree with my perspective I do my best to reserve judgement about the personal value of individuals. We live in an age when the internet allows people a boldness they would not have in person. I also think that anyone can say anything here in cyberspace and it makes it quite difficult to determine what is factual and what is not. And most of us can be easily drawn into drama never bothering to question but rather just swallow; hook, line and sinker and then play the telephone game repeating what is rumor. I do often write in a way that encourages speculation, often asking provocative questions…my goal is not to convert, but to get people to question. Question their oft first assumption that remote collars are tools of torture only used by those who have no compassion, are lazy etc. It is simply not the case. It is a tool and as with ANY tool, it’s humaneness and effectiveness depends entirely on the user. I have no problem what so ever with anyone choosing not to use one. What I have a problem with is someone judging and condemning others for their choices. And I have a serious problem with the line drawing between groups in the dog training profession. Personally I’d like to see someone hold a “peace summit” for dog trainers. We get together, eat, drink and play with our dogs. No debates, just social time. We might discover we have way more in common than we thought and perhaps some would begin to sheath their swords and learning from one another could resume.

          • Michelle says:

            I’d actually LOVE to see a peace summit because you’re right. People make a lot of assumptions on both sides. For the record, I don’t think people who train with e-collars are monsters or dog torturers or people who have no compassion. I’ve seen those sorts and it’s not a pretty picture. I actually think e-collars are kinder than choke chains and prong collars because they don’t have the possibility of throat damage that the others carry.

            But I won’t personally use them. It’s my choice and it’s one I’ll stand by.

            And you’re right…people can be really something else on the internet. The sort of faceless aspect of it makes it far easier to say things you wouldn’t normally say. And I feel exceptionally bad for taking someone’s word for something when I should not have. I’m usually one who does her research!

            Thank you for your kind response.

        • Michael Burkey says:

          Thanks Michelle for your candid admittance with Robin and subsequent dialogue. I respect that. I wish others would be willing to do the same as well so that even if we disagree we could all still get along, respect each other and learn from each other.

        • Viatecio says:

          Although I did not have so many comments in this, I just want to echo Robin and Michael, Michelle.

          Yesterday at work, we had a dog come in with horrible pressure necrosis sores from an invisible-fence-type system. Not only that, but the owner apparently used ANOTHER e-collar on the dog–there were at least 4 open wounds, as described in the chart (this all went down before I came in, as I was on a later shift). I was able to have a glance at the dog before he went home–I did not see the “burn mark” that connected the two sets of sores, so can’t verify that’s what it was.

          Of course, what was actually written in the chart was “Burns from shock collar” rather than the fact that the owner admitted (per several techs with whom I spoke) that he had to PULL the probes of the collar out of the neck–he had undid the clasps and the collar part fell off, but the boxes remained “stuck” to the dog’s neck.

          Burns? I don’t think so.

          And this was the day when I’d brought in my dog on her e-collar.

          Talk about feeling helpless to do anything because of the misuse of a tool, the evidence right before your eyes. Then again, one might feel same when hearing about a drunken driver inadvertently using a car as a weapon to potentially harm someone else, or a nut with a gun who shoots up another person for any inane reason, or even something like what happened recently in Urbana OH, a woman stabbed and dismembered. We all know deep down that it is people who cause these issues. It is not the car, the gun, the knife. They are tools, and people use those every day in a neutral setting with no issues whatsoever.

          Getting back to training, the main idea is that we are all helping dogs. Although an issue at hand that splits the profession is the tools at hand, I do wonder if it is a red herring: it is results and standards that are the bottom line.

          Who cares how a dog is trained (barring actual abuse) so long as it has a reliable, one-command performance around varying distractions, and off-leash? Read what the dog is saying: is it happy, confident, and willing to work?

          If everything falls into place, what’s the issue?

          • Kevin says:

            I would much rather dogs get trained on an e-collar than euthanized in pound, which is what happens to far too many dogs and cats.

    • Summer says:

      Michelle, you clearly have little or no experience with how a remote collar is used. In your blog response to this blog post you state “But does that mean they would choose to be trained using something that causes a pain in their neck every time they do something wrong? Would they choose an uncomfortable sensation when they do something wrong over a reward when they do something right? ”
      First my questions to you would be 1) Have you ever felt a collar yourself or are you writing based on what other people have told you? 2) Who ever said we dont reward dogs?
      It seems to me that there are several people who have strong opinions about how a remote collar causes “pain, fear & intimidation”, “learned helplessness”, etc but then these people have very little if any experience with them. If they have had experience with a collar themselves it was 20+ years ago. Things have come along way!
      I am not disputing the fact that ANY training tool can be misused but if you are going to post things like “They’re not really giving you the truth about shock collars, but rather their twisted version of the truth (it doesn’t hurt, there’s no pain, it’s just a stim).” You probably want to have a clue as to what you are talking about first.
      I came across this the other day- “clicker training is pretty easy to use and pretty resistant to user error under the guidance of a qualified instructor.” So let’s see, does this mean that clicker training CAN have user error if not “under the guidance of a qualified instructor”? Seems to me ANY tool can have user error if not under the guidance of a qualified instructor be it clicker, remote collar, pinch collar, leash & collar, whatever….. SO why don’t the people who use +R training just educate others on how to use it properly and we will continue to educate people on the proper use of the remote collar?
      Off to train some dogs. Have a great day!

      • Michelle says:

        I’ve spoken with and met a handful of people who train with shock collars. I’ve seen them demonstrate them on their dogs. And I’ve felt the collar on myself (including on my neck). I found it ranged from uncomfortable to painful, depending on the level used. I chose not to use something like that on my dog. I don’t know how anyone can honestly claim that they’re not painful or uncomfortable, that they’re not aversive.

        I’m not coming to this from a lack of knowledge. I sought the knowledge; I checked out the collars; I refused to use them. So yes, I have a “clue.” A lot of clues. I’ve seen trainers and people who claim to be trainers (the “Sit Means Sit” crew who left me utterly horrified at what they did) use them. I’ve met their dogs. And I still came to the conclusion that I would never use something like that on my dog.

        I know it’s easier to assume that someone knows nothing when they disagree with you, but it’s not always the case.

        I do know some shock collar trainers use rewards as well, but considering how a properly placed reward can get the behavior all on its own, I see no reason to incorporate something adverse into the relationship I have with my dog.

        • Ilan says:

          they are not aversive because they are not used to punish. Proper collar training is never used as a punishment or correction tool but as an attention tool. At a low stim level it is meant to simply draw the attention to you on any command. The fact that you say it is used when they do something wrong shows you don’t know how to use them properly. You repeated that multiple times. I never correct my dog with the collar.

  30. Michelle says:

    I think it’s different to say “I choose things to keep my dog safe” than “I choose something to train my dog with that may cause pain and/or uncomfortable sensations.” I’m pretty sure my dog would not jump into a fire, for instance. I trust that she would make the right choice there. I’m also fairly certain that my dog would not choose to be trained using anything that is painful and/or uncomfortable. She is a soft dog who shows stress signals at harsh words (that aren’t even directed at her), who flinches and avoids you if you accidentally shock her with static shock. When I first got her and did some collar pops (on a flat collar, not a choke), she simply shut down and rolled over. It was pretty obvious that she didn’t like those methods and would not have chosen them. On the flip side, from her increased toy and tug drive, from the way she works for the possibility of reward, the way her eyes light up when I get out the agility equipment, I’m pretty sure she’d choose those methods of training.

    So would she choose the e-collar? No. Would I? Absolutely not. There are far better ways to train that don’t involve pain, uncomfortable sensations, fear and/or intimidation.

    The beautiful thing about the way I train is that she gets time off leash, clear communication, and all that without the addition of a “stim” or “sensation” or whatever euphemism for “shock” you’re calling them these days.

    • Ilan says:

      aren’t you noble. Unfortunately not every dog responds to other methods of training. An e-collar is not a tool for every dog and situation. Just because you feel it isn’t necessary for your dog does not mean it is unnecessary for everyone one. Try dealing with a 70 pound aggressive dog that has been traumatized and beaten by their owner from birth and rehabilitated them with “positive reenforcement”. It just isn’t reality. I rather save a dog and have him uncomfortable then have him put to sleep because he’s too aggressive. I guess i’m just cruel in that way.

      • Heather says:

        I guess I too am cruel in that way,I just want to keep my little boy alive. we purchased a shock collar after our puppy continously chases coyotes and doesn’t return for hours, positive re-inforcement is VERY difficult when they have run away! we are trying to prevent him getting hit by a vehicle. Otherwise he is perfectly behaved and stays with us off his leash with ZERO problems, but if a coyote happens across the front of our house he is a goner and after too many chases and bouts of sickness due to worry we have choosen to try this method. We are actually praying it works and stops him in his tracks from chasing the coyotes. Don’t really know what else to do short of keeping him on a leash constantly, which isn’t really fair because other than this issue he is perfectly behaved. But if you have any further suggestions I would LOVE to hear them!!

  31. Onebigassdog says:

    So did you ecollar your kids?? There is no way any dog or sane person would choose to be ecollar trained. All I see from this post is a human choice for their dogs. Humane or not is up for debate. It’s the easy way out for the lazy trainer. Dogs don’t need to be shocked to be well behaved and trained. And trying to justify it on a public blog doesn’t change the fact that it is an evasive and unnecessary training choice. If you won’t use it on yourself or your children why subject your dog to it. If you aren’t willing to do real work to have a “good” dog. Then why have a dog. No matter how you justify it you are still shocking your dog with pain. No dog would choose that. No human would choose that. Do it to your child it’s considered abuse. It is no different with a dog. If you believe otherwise you are not a real dog lover. A dog is just property to you. And in that case why own a dog????

    • Robin says:

      Hello OneBigAssDog, I do believe otherwise….so I guess that makes me not a real dog lover. Ah, well… Did you know that on July 20th, 1969 there were humans who did not believe we could ever land a person on the moon? I guess that makes them not real lovers of people who did believe we could land on the moon. I believe many things are possible when one has the intention to learn and a mind open enough to explore. Have a nice day and thank you for commentary. Robin

    • Kevin says:

      >>If you won’t use it on yourself or your children why subject your dog to it.<<

      Because dogs aren't people?

      Do you feed your child dog food? Do you make your child wear a leash and a collar? Do you put your child in a crate, or house him in a kennel when you go on vacation? If you don't do these things for your child or yourself, why subject your dog to them?

      • Adrienne Farricelli says:

        >>If you won’t use it on yourself or your children why subject your dog to it.<<
        Because dogs aren't people?
        Do you feed your child dog food? Do you make your child wear a leash and a collar? Do you put your child in a crate, or house him in a kennel when you go on vacation? If you don't do these things for your child or yourself, why subject your dog to them?"

        Kevin, nice try. It is obvious dogs are not people or children, but they are not property or objects either! There have been studies done on how the e-collar affects dogs and their body language is a far cry from showing them being happy. See Matthijs Schilder and Joanne van der Borg study- for instance.

        Personally,I am not sure how I would be able to cope with the results of such studies and continue to use an e-collar. I guess there must be a bit of guilt that makes people build a website to convince themselves and others how harmless shock collars are. The more I read articles by shock collar trainers the more I feel their articles are the fruit of some coping "defense mechanism" to feel better from using lazy training methods based on coercion.

        If dogs were so happy to wear the e-collar, it would NOT be effective. E-collars are not clickers! So let's just be blunt and down to earth and admit that e-collars are not an object a dog would raise its paw and voluntarily say ''pick me! pick me!Please I feel like being shocked today". Let's get real!

        The biggest problem I have with e-collar trainers is that they are often not honest with themselves and others. I have a higher respect for shock collars trainers who bluntly admit what a shock collar is than those who sugar-coat things. OK, you decide to use positive punishment, OK, you want to use an e-collar to stop unwanted behaviors, OK you say it is effective, OK you say it must be used on dogs that have not responded to other training methods. But please, please, stop lying about it! Shock is not a pat on the head, it is not a reward, it is not something the dog looks forward to, it is not something the dog voluntarily would choose! Even the name of this website is misleading 'the truth about shock collars". What truth are we talking about? The one you want us to see but that is a big fat lie? Credibility has gone to zero. I am sorry, I don't buy it, but some naive people people may and I feel sorry for that.

        • Robin says:

          Hi again Andrienne. The Schiler & Van de Borg study is considered by many to have been poorly conducted according to scientific method, there were many pieces of information left out. You may be interested in reading this post: http://www.truthaboutshockcollars.com/85/remote-collar-training-what-does-science-have-to-say/
          And since you are interested in what science has to say I would strongly suggest you read this study: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CG0QFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fleerburg.com%2Fpdf%2Fcomparingecollarprongandquittingsignal.pdf&ei=dF7jT9aXOILE2wWpj7SfDw&usg=AFQjCNGOwUPXs_zpCndbaba_U9u8oHqkCw

          But a word of caution…there may be a “truth” you don’t want to hear and thus avoidance may be your best bet.

          all the best,
          Robin

          • Adrienne Farricelli says:

            Your response does not surprise me; when there are studies proving your facts wrong you all answer the same thing: they are not accurate, they lack credibility, they are crappy etc. Then the day when studies you somewhat believe support you comes out, they all suddenly become accurate, correct and the best in the world! I see how it works; how magical! I was reading part of the study you posted because I am open to educating myself, but abruptly stopped the moment I read the dogs developed a “conditioned anticipatory fear reaction”. That’s enough for me to confirm that the Matthijs Schilder and Joanne van der Borg study had truth to it. I don’t care if the shock was effective in rehabilitating the dogs or if the dogs learned to read in Chinese. I don’t care how and when they removed that fear response. It did happen. I know shock is effective, it’s the effects it creates that I have a trouble with. Oh, and did I mention I had to rehabilitate several dogs that were ruined by shock collars? Just as the study you posted, I had to fix all these fear reactions found in “remote controlled dogs”. There are tons of reputable dog trainers and behavior specialists who do not need shock to fix dogs.The path may be longer but it works on changing emotional responses rather than suppressing outward manifestations. You ask me to list who these great professionals are and I will not. Why? For the simple purpose you will say there is something wrong with them just as you did with the study:( Sounds fair, no? For what it is worth, feel free to do the same about me, I am just a crappy trainer who knows nothing and is just “seeing things” when dogs show subdued/fearful body language when they are shocked. After all, we don’t count nothing, so do the studies and so do the dogs:(

          • Robin says:

            Hello Adrienne, I’m not sure where I have ever said you were a crappy trainer, nor alluded to that. I’m glad you are helping dogs live fuller lives. I am glad when any trainer helps a dog/owner have a more successful life together. I believe I do the same. I ask only to be judged by my work and to be allowed to make decisions with my clients that suit their needs. I attempt to be respectful in my responses to people although I get tremendous amounts of hate and nasty words directed at me. I am continually labeled a “shocker” a dog abuser, unethical and the like…but these labels seems to only come from people that have never meet me, never bothered to call me up to chat, nor taken the time to get to know me in any way. My clients, students and individuals who have actually met me seem to have a different view…even some of those people who may not train the way that I do have come to the conclusion I am not “evil”. We respect we have differing views and paths to getting to an end goal and that we both are achieving good and humane objectives with our clients and their dogs.
            My purpose with this blog is to tell a part of the story that most aren’t telling..and that is that an e-collar can be used humanely and without deleterious effects. I believe that most aren’t telling that story not because they are hell bent on dispelling misinformation but because they have not taken any time to visit with someone who can do it well and take the path of simply repeating what they’ve heard and been told.
            I am not anti-science but my point about studies is they can be designed to prove any point we wish to prove, so yes, while I read them and understand they have some value, they carry limited weight in my ultimate decision making. I don’t make my eating choices via all the studies either. They change all the time depending on who is doing the study and what theory someone wants to prove anyway. I find that much (not all) science now days is tainted. And some is simply ridiculous. It takes no rocket scientist to conclude that eating potato chips and Big Macs while slugging down diet sodas for the majority of your dietary intake is unhealthy. It takes no rocket scientist to prove that strapping a remote collar to a dog, turning it up to high levels and randomly pushing the button will create instability, anxious, superstitious behavior.

        • Summer Milroy says:

          Adrienne,
          “If dogs were so happy to wear the e-collar, it would NOT be effective. E-collars are not clickers!”

          I am not understanding your statement: If dogs were so happy to wear the e-collar, it would NOT be effective. Are you saying training a happy dog with an ecollar is not effective?

          I beg to differ with you on this. I have plenty of client who call thier remote collar controller their “clicker”!

          • Jon says:

            I think it is interesting that the trainers discussed as lying to themselves about what an e-collar is, are described by Ines as using positive punishment. I assume you are familiar with the different methods of remote collar use? Wouldn’t it be negative reinforcement (that is becoming more commonly used), since the e-collar is stimulated until the behavior is committed to (as discussed and used by most trainers on this blog?) But we need to learn more about the quadrants of operant conditioning?

            I was recently watching a video of Sophia Yin using a clicker to counter condition aggressive responses in a JRT when someone blew in its face. Blowing in the face of a dog isn’t necessarily painful for the dog, but was somewhat startling. By attaching a positively conditioned stimulus, to one that caused reactive behavior, she was able to change the dogs CER (conditioned emotional response) to being blown on.The dog actually started getting excited .If we can get past that electrical stimulation MUST be painful, and we clearly understand Operant and Classical conditioning, is it so hard to believe that the remote collar can actually have positive connotation? In many videos you will see the remote collar actually being used as a clicker. The other thing I would add, is if the clicker is not painful, why is it effective? The first time I used one, my dog, who is usually not fearful of anything, seemed quite startled and showed signs of stress and displacement. As the clicker was conditioned to a positive stimulus, his CER changed, and suddenly a dog with so much physiological signs of stress was showing great excitement to the stimulation. Had I not created the perception and association, the clicker would in fact have been punishment to this dog. Why is it we change the rules when we discuss remote collars? Why is it okay that a gentle leader be considered humane, when many dogs need long periods of conditioning and desensitization before we use it? I think it is about perception. Just my two cents, but I guess its just naive banter…

          • Adrienne Farricelli says:

            I think you perfectly know what I mean but are just playing because you are hoping I say something you can confront me with and prove me wrong.

            Let’s switch the pancake. Since you are the expert: Why Do you think shock collars work? Can you compare the body language of a dog being clicker trained with the body language of a dog when it is shocked? Is a shock collar a conditioned reinforcer? If so, please explain how and why? What quadrants are used when using a shock collar and what quadrants are used when using a clicker? Do shock collars change the emotional state of the dog? when dealing with behavioral problems do you worry about the underlying emotional state or all you care is suppressing outward manifestations of behavior? What can be done to prevent superstitious behavior? Do you know what learned helplessness is and how do you avoid it? And most of all how do I deal with a person (a client of mine) that has been told by a trainer that shock is just a “tap” and has ruined his dog? How do I remedy that? Saying shock is just a tap is dangerous information that could lead to misuse and abuse! I am not sure if trainers and websites like this realize the amount of damage that can be done to dogs by owners who assume it is innocuous and the dog looks forward to it..just my 2 cents

          • Robin says:

            I play golf and I play with my dog. I don’t play with my blog. I take it rather seriously.

            Shock collars work because they provide information. What type of information is determined by the user. Yes, I can read and compare body language quite well. Would you like to provide examples you need me to analyze? If you do please provide video because it tells a much more thorough story than still photography. Or are you asking me to generalize and make assumptions without any actual work in front of me?
            Yes, stimulation can be a conditioned reinforcer. It is possible to condition tactile cues just as it is to condition visual or auditory ones.
            I use all quadrants when I train and the remote collar can move rather fluidly between several of them. My understanding of purist clicker trainers is they stick to positive R and – P…although not all clicker trainers that I have observed stay in those boxes. Yes, I do concern myself with changing the underlying emotional state of the dog when dealing with behavioral issues. I utilize numerous tools and techniques to assist in changing that emotional state and at times initial suppression may be the answer and will lead to a positive underlying change as well. To prevent superstitious behavior one must go through the e-collar conditioning process before using the collar in scenerio/situational work. Yes, I know what learned helplessness is and it is easily avoidable by going through the e-collar conditioning process and teaching the dog he/she actually has total control of the stimulation.
            How do I remedy a dog that has had a poor learning experience with remote collars…I start from square one and retrain them. Been there and done it a number of times. What has been learned can be unlearned and reconditioned. Takes time, patience and knowledge just as other training problems do.
            Have I passed your test? If not please be honest and admit there is nothing I can say short of exactly what you want to hear that will satisfy anyway. I am only guessing but I suspect anything other than what you want to hear is “all lies” coming from me anyway.
            Regards,
            Robin

    • John Van Olden says:

      I don’t think a dog would choose to eat kibble if steak were available. Who wants to sleep on a crappy dog bed, when there are nice soft couches and beds available? I would never put my 1-year-old baby on a leash (though I’ve thought about it:) ) but some parents do. I’m sure a dog, given a choice, would not want to be on a leash.
      We feed our dogs the shit off of our plate that we choose not to eat. Fat from meat, etc. They eat it up happily. (Those who feed table scraps that is) Would you give your child a bone with raw meat on it to gnaw on?
      Next time you’re at the pediatrician, ask the doctor to vaccinate your child in the back of his neck, since that’s how your dog is usually vaccinated.
      Need I go on?

    • Ilan says:

      I have an adopted amstaff. I saved him from being euthanized. You seem to make a quick judgement of thins you don’t have experience in. My dog is a very aggressive dog towards other dogs. I spent over 4000 on trainers before deciding to use a shock collar. Positive reenforcement through low stim levels on a constant basis completely changed my dog. He is more confident, more trusting and i always have his attention which makes him more relaxed and far less neurotic. This compared to how other people trained him in retrospect is far less inhumane. I had trainers who just like you say “its disgusting inhumane etc… to use a shock collar” train my dog and subject him to the most stressful situations which only aggravated his situation regardless of how “positive” the training was. An opinion based on ignorance doesn’t make it reality. Your opinion is 100 percent ignorant. Dogs are not people, they do not think like people, function like people, feel pain the same way as us, want the same things as us. They are a completely different species. To compare a dog to a person as a basis for your argument shows a complete lack of any understand of the relationship between k9′s and people.

  32. Donna says:

    Lucy was on an e-collar before we got her. I know she would choose not to be on one ever again. Why? The e-collar was a scary experience for her. How do I know this? She has a sensitive temperament and a sensitive physique. We first discovered they had her on one when she heard a click and began looking around frantically trying to discover the source and looking like she expected to be stung by a wasp or worse. The previous people got rid of her because despite these sensitivities, the e-collar didn’t keep her in the yard when a bunny ran by. She would blast through the fence, have a great time chasing and catching the rabbits, then after her adrenaline levels had dropped, had to wait many hours until the people got home to let her back in how own yard. They finally got tired of the neighbors complaining about the chasing/roaming and tied her to a tire for 11 hours a day while they were gone. They complained that she peed on their feet all the time when she greeted them as they came home. Fear-related. As a result of being tied, she became destructive and destroyed a outdoor pool filter worth hundreds of dollars (among other things) . This all led to her being given away. Pretty traumatic for a dog.
    So, I would say that she would choose to be trained using another method. Happily, she ended up with us, who use positive reinforcement. (Positive is not permissive. There’s a big difference). We have built her confidence, she no longer pees in fear, and she is now participating and earning qualifying legs in a variety of sports, plus is a demo dog to help people train their own service dogs.

    • Robin says:

      Hi Donna, I am sorry to hear that the e-collar was a scary experience for your dog. That is not only sad, but obviously unfortunate and sets back not only training but the development of relationship. In hindsight, perhaps I should of stated “e-collar training done just right” but that too opens a can of worms because there are some who believe there is no such thing. Obviously I believe there is a right and wrong way to use the tool. As a general rule it should not be scary, painful or intimidating to the dog. Done in the way I prefer it is information of yes/no delivered in a non-scary or fear inducing way. Kind of like a gps that tells you when you are going off course. When I write I make the assumption that people understand that, but then I get lots of e-mail that convinces me otherwise…..which is exactly why I continue to educate. If people are going to make this decision for their dogs they need info on how to do it correctly.
      The outcome of using the e-collar in a positive way means that a dog achieves those freedoms I spoke of way, way faster than any other method I’ve found. That is ultimately what I believe a dog would chose…the black and white communication that leads to faster comprehension and faster integration into the society we often have to keep them from because they “can’t behave well enough”. Thank you for sharing your story.

  33. Ines Gaschot says:

    I think any well behaved dog will get more freedom- that does not depend on how it was trained though. You can accomplish that with kindness and patience or through an ecollar…

    • Robin says:

      Hello Ines, An e-collar can be utilized with kindness and patience. It is a tool, how it is used is dependent on the knowledge of the person holding the remote. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Robin

        • Michael Burkey says:

          Because Ignes, treats and play will not always suffice. The remote provides a higher level of realibility than other methods especially when the distraction for what the dog wants is too high.

      • Ines Gaschot says:

        Just read a few more comments down. You mention that if someone is willing to learn about how to accurately use an e-collar then you would be willing to teach them. On the other hand, have you ever learned how to use a clicker for training or other positive type methods? In much the same way you feel about people criticizing the e-collar, if you dont know everything about clicker training, it is hard to see how you could accurately criticize positive methods… Also, as with e-collars, there are trainers who do not know how to accurately train with a clicker..

        • Michael Burkey says:

          Ignes, I use to be a clicker trainer and Master Third Way trainer. So I am quite familiar with +R and clicker training. I crossed over to being a balanced trainer who uses a very high percentage of +R. In fact my colleagues do too such as Robin and others, yet many +R folks for some reason incorrectly assume that just because one utilizes a remote collar that they aren’t familiar with +R which is a complete false assumption.

          Though Ian Dunbar (a very well known positive lure trainer) does not endorse remote collars (he also doesn’t like clickers), he recently reminded folks at one of his academies that there are four quadrants of learning and not just two. He also said that unfortunately it is the +R people who tend to use +P on their clients and colleagues that he found very distasteful. I almost stood up applauding him because this has been my experience as well.

        • Michael Burkey says:

          Hi Ines,

          Yes, I am very knowledgeable about clicker training having been a clicker trainer.

          So I’ll turn your question around back to you…are you trained as an e-collar specialist and if not how can you talk negatively about something you have no specialized training or experience in using?

    • Adrienne Farricelli says:

      I agree, many dogs have lots of freedom and they never had to be shocked. I walk my dog off leash every day, we do not have a fenced yard and they enjoy every bit of freedom. It is no surprise why some of the best trainers and behavior experts out there can train without resorting to shock. I truly believe in this statement:

      ” To use shock as an effective dog training method you will need:
      A thorough understanding of canine behavior.
      A thorough understanding of learning theory.
      Impeccable timing.
      And if you have those three things, you don’t need a shock collar.
      –Author unknown

      • Robin says:

        Thank you for your comments Andrienne. I am curious how you define “best”? What is the criteria for an accomplished trainer or behavior expert in your opinion?

  34. Summer Milroy says:

    All 3 of my dogs have been trained with an ecollar. I think that they would have made that same choice, if they could. I also think it is important for us as the human to set the rules for our k9 partners. Like you said, if they have the choice it would probably be eating out of the trash, not getting a bath or nail trim.

    A funny story that just happened. I was at a meeting for an upcoming dog event. Everyone (for the most part) knows my dog, since we have been a vendor at this event the last 2 years. One of the ladies was saying how great my dog was and that I should be part of the entertainment this year because my dog drew such a crowd last year. Another lady then started talking about training (they all know I am a trainer) and brought up a “shock collar”. One of the ladies cringed at the thought of a “shock collar” and stated “oh poor dog”. I then told her that my dog had been trained with a collar and she even had it on last year when she was drawing such a crowd. They all looked at me surprised. I then asked “did she look abused?” EVERY ONE of them said NO!! They didnt have any idea how she was trained, all they saw was her having a GREAT time (off leash by the way) at a very busy dog event!!

    So back to the original conversation…… I think dogs do need structure, rules, etc. I think anyone who works with dogs would agree, even though they may not agree with the same training methods.

  35. Angela Monteith says:

    I believe my three dogs would choose the e-collar. Why? Because when I pull their remotes and collars off the charging cable, they swarm me, sit politely, and LITERALLY stick their necks out…with a full-body wiggle. They know that e-collar = clear communication, happy dogs, happy owners, and off-leash freedom.

    They know I do not use their collars to punish or hurt them, but to help guide them in the right direction. Because of this, my dogs welcome their collars.

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