Flyswatters and Shock Collars: A Question of Effective Dog Training Methods?

Effective Dog Training Methods

How do you define effective dog training methods? I know in the professional world we often get caught up in the scientific discussions of punishment and reinforcement and what constitutes effective use of each. That path of discussion can often lead to heated opinions of the necessity of punishment and for me that brings up the topic of the versatility of a remote collars. Are they only a tool of punishment as some assert?

More importantly, is the dog’s experience of a remote collar always that of punishment?

Is it always a “penalty imposed on an offender for a wrongdoing”? (definition taken from Websters New World College Dictionary)

Before you answer that question, let’s consider some other things that might typically be considered punishment when directed toward our dogs. Could I use a flyswatter as one of my tools for effective dog training methods?

What would you call it if you swat your dog with a flyswatter? Is it punishment?

What if you blast him with a squirt of water or hit your dog with a stick or shake noisy objects at them?

All punishment, correct? Right up there with shock collars…no if’s, and, or buts about it. You might even categorize them as effective dog training methods for punishment based training…

But, I happen to think differently. I believe what is aversive and punishing is defined by the recipient. And that the recipient’s expression of what is aversive is defined by the experience…which in the case of training dogs is created by the trainer.

If you wish to stay locked into the mindset that tools can only fit into one quadrant you may not want to watch the video below or bother to read further. Often what we “know to be true” is only true in our experience. It is false for someone else’s experience.

Stepping outside of our own paradigms can be disconcerting.

Ultimately, we have control over how our dogs perceive any tool we bring into the training scenario. We set the tone and create the experience. My dog’s react the way they do to these supposed “aversives” because of the way I introduced them and created their experience with the tools. Any good protection trainer, or bite sport competitor knows exactly what I’m talking about. A dog’s experience of any tool or situation is created through mindful application.

What made the difference? How come these “punishment” tools (water blasts, shake cans & flyswatter) don’t look very punishing to my dogs?

I believe the answer is: Intent.

Intent determines how one will use a remote collar or any tool and how it will be perceived by the dog. The mental attitude we take with us when we train will determine the majority of our outcome, regardless of our tool of choice.

My advice for anyone considering using a remote collar to train their dog is to check their intent before they put the collar on the dog or start pushing buttons.

If your intent is coming from frustration and wanting to “show the dog once and for all!” it needs to shift before you start training. Using the e-collar that way certainly fits the definition of shock collar and it is not what I want you to do.

Just as my dogs have learned that a blast of water, a flyswatter or a loud, noisy shake can means “play time” your dog can learn that the remote collar means fun learning together and interesting adventures to go on. If you’re interested in learning to use the tool as part of a balanced training program, you’re willing to spend the time and energy teaching your dog what to do rather than just what not to do, my guess is you’ll end up with a dog who loves his e-collar and is an eager and willing participant in your training time together.

It all starts with intent: Shock collar or remote training collar, it’s your choice of what kind of effective dog training method you want it to be.



The Horrid Truth about Shock Collar Trainers

Shock Collar Trainers: The Truth!

It is time, my pretties, for the truth.

The TRUTH. That some have been dying to hear!

My confession.

The “Shock Jock” does exist!!!…the transformation occurs with each full moon….but the fullest revelation comes each Hallow’s Eve when the witch electrifies her beasties with the mighty wand.

Beware, to go further reveals the terrifying truth…

Behold the horror of pain, fear and intimidation…so much juice that the learned helplessness of my darlings’ is unmistakable! (please imagine eerie musical score of your choice)

On my knees I tell you I do have a blatant disregard for “science-based” training, oh righteous ones. Despite my Bachelors Degree in Biology, 7 years in the veterinary industry and 17 years training….. I can not seem to bring myself to worship the higher god (would that be Victoria Stillwell?)

To deny the validity of all quadrants and dismiss natures design itself…it is just too much for my wicked, wicked ways.

My sins of Sloth like laziness are executed through the use of cell phones as I warn fellow ghouls of impending mayhem. E-mail shall forward my infamous eye of newt soup recipe to other trolls.

I will continue to use mechanical birds for transatlantic travel as rowing is far to dull. (and I can’t locate a decent wizard to repair my broom!) And when the wind soon blows her November gales….I will no longer gather wood and stoke the embers…

No, I shall march boldly to the thermostat and turn up the dial to warm my liar!

AND, when I train Canis familiaris…a remote collar will continue to be one of my many tools.

I can not tell a lie on this sacred eve…

YES! I am one lazy bitch.

I implore you to continue to pray for my depraved soul. Pray also for the tortured 3000 plus dogs and other lazy, stupid owners who have stirred this cauldron with me… My evil, magic wand will continue to transform frustration and hopelessness into happy and fuller lives.

I simply can not believe that the alternative path is more just… That euthanasia, drugs, months stretched into years of training or a lifetime on a harness and leash would of been the kinder alternative.

Curse Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell, Louis Pasteur, Orville and Wilbur Wright and all the likes of them. Continue to curse new technologies and modern conveniences as you will. Curse all those who stretch possibility, defy imagination and do what is said to not be plausible…invention is certainly the work of lazy, evil minds. (plus, don’t you think it would be fun to go back to the days of bloodletting!)


special thanks to: Stacy Reynolds: hair and makeup, Maddie MacFarlane: set design & photography, Ron Reinert: direction and wicked camaraderie. Diva & Tom: always my delightful and patient companions.






Think Dog Training with Positive Reinforcement Is All the Rage in Training Dogs and Dolphins?

Dog Training with Positive Reinforcement: Reconsidering the Methods

The following letter was sent to me from Kaat (pictured above with her dogs, including Blooper) after we exchanged e-mails discussing dog training with positive reinforcement. The main focus of our discussions were some of the petitions to ban e-collars and a video clip I have on YouTube that demonstrates using a remote training collar to work with a dog that is having aggression issues.

I’m posting the e-mail in it’s entirety because every single word (including the links) should be read by those who sign petitions to ban a tool that is saving many dog’s lives. In fact, it is my opinion that every single word be read by all dog owners and trainers as well. Kaat is very matter of fact about the current state of affairs in much of the dog training industry. Too many trainers are selling dog owners short on what can be achieved. The idea of dog training with positive reinforcement ONLY is being touted as the be all, end all and too manydogs that can be saved are being given up, destroyed or owners and their dogs are forced to live less than full lives. All because they have only been supplied with half the story. Kaat’s story is a good reminder that people should seek out other opinions and points of view when they are not getting the results they seek.

Hi Robin,

That is just why I love that video. Healing fear and blind panic is the most difficult and thus greatest training achievement of all.

It is the highest drive a dog can get in. So there is no “reward” that can top or divert this state of mind.

Panic is a drive that can not be subdued by satisfaction!

It is exactly that kind of dog that got me to realize that e-collar saves lives.

All my dogs come from an animal shelter. Blooper was badly abused by his previous owner and had severe kennel syndrome. He wanted to attack everything. And I do mean everything! Garbage cans, umbrella’s, other dogs, vehicles (all kinds), humans (all kinds), etc…

He should have had a T-Shirt that says: “I hate everything and your next!”

But it was sad… because walking for him was a trip to Hell. The stress he was in continuously was beyond describing. Furthermore because he also hated dogs every walk could be his last. I kept him on leach but some dog owners feel the bizarre need to let their disobedient dogs run free. An encounter with Blooper could force the other dog into defense. Serious injury could be the consequence.

For two years I tried positive operant conditioning. Two f**ing years lost!

I went to 3 dog schools, 5 personal trainers… And all of them were so brainwashed by the new positive operant training, they all told the same story of which I knew it did not and will not work. Thanks to Karen Pryor and her observations on Dolphins (you know the animals that never get out of their aquarium which contains no diversions at all!!!!!).

Clearly complex problems often lead to simple, easy to understand wrong answers!

I could impose leadership with cookies all I wanted. Blooper did fine and obeyed me as long as he was not in a panic-state of mind. It seems logical now. Polite employees let their boss go trough the door first, unless the building is on fire!

When Blooper attacked a young Malinois pup who approached him I came to the end of my rope. Because dog-aggression is like throwing a stone into water. It traumatizes other dogs and can thus leads to aggression in the other dog, who then makes other victims and so on. It had to stop!

Two years of positive operant training was two years lost of an already short live. Dogs don’t live that long… It was two years of unnecessary fear for my dog. Two years of daily risks to be injured for my dog, for a human, for other dogs… It had to stop NOW!

So I Googled once more for another personal trainer… And this time I absolutely wanted someone who could get results, not just beautiful theories. I considered someone who was a three-time champion in NVBK and Belgian Ringsport, all with different dogs and the highest scores ever achieved, as a trainer that could get results! Indeed I’m one of these owners that wants only the very very best for his dog…Enters Bart Bellon.

And after 20 minutes the problem was solved!

Well It’s Bart, I’ll be honest… we all know him. It took 4 hours of explaining e-collar-training to me and 20 minutes of working with Blooper. Of course it took maintenance but Blooper healed. It all became clear to me. Panic stops once you know exactly what you have to do in a certain situation and this routine is repeated and drilled. This is why soldiers on a dangerous mission do not panic. They are focused on what they were learnt to do and on the accomplishment of their target.

Once he stopped attacking Blooper had a calmer more focused state of mind which allowed him to reassess the situations he was once so scared of. After only a couple of weeks the fear was all gone…

He now lives peacefully with two other shelter dogs. Gets compliment on walks for his outstanding and exemplary obedience. (Which only proves how exceptional an obedient dog has become since the hype of training only with positive operant conditioning, which is, in my modest opinion, not so positive at all).

Blooper is now a happy self-confident dog that really enjoys his life. Thanks to Bart Bellon, who will have my gratitude for ever and then some.

The fact that Blooper could have had all this two years earlier had it not been for the big dog training LIE… still pisses me off big time!

Had I listened to their advice Blooper would have been euthanized. 5 Times he got a death sentence by these “positive” people. Their fanatic attitude results into never reconsidering their methods, but in simply stating: “If the dog can not be trained my way the dog should be put to death. in other words: “the dog is wrong, not my system!”

I’m now wearing Bloopers little T-Shirt, with a little ad on. It says: “I hate all strictly fanatic positive operant trainers… and if you’re one of those liars, you’re next!”

In annex I leave you the survey removed by these liars in order to deny the obvious truth (Once again. Some habits apparently die hard!).

I also give you these very interesting links: The Truth About Training Dolphins,

The absolute proof that dolphins are trained and controlled with existential techniques, namely : hunger.

The relief of slightly unpleasant is thus what motivates them.

The Maslov-principle. It leaves no choice.

Interesting to note is that with this hunger/food-training/controlling system control stops around and about the same time that the hunger disappears.

Predictable and logical…. Except of course for animal rights terrorists!

They just don’t seem to understand there is a difference between a dog that knows the meaning of a command and a dog that will obey this command regardless the circumstances!!!!!

Contrary to the existential training with hunger, e-collar thus offers two major advantages:

1° The application of slightly unpleasant as a motivator is always applicable in the amount needed for a specific dog with a specific drive (at that moment). This is not the case with hunger because it diminishes slowly, and so does your control.

2° When the dog obeys there is an immediate and total relief of the slightly unpleasant feeling. This is not the case with hunger that keeps lingering in the body.

So NEPOPO brings the message to the dog clearer and in a more consequent manner.

Here are the links:

“Free the advanced biological weapon system, an interview with Richard O’Barry by Brent Hoff.”

And the link that shows that movie-producers were sick and tired of waiting for the dolphins to obey, so they used computer animations for the sequel:

Clearly Karen Pryor missed that one! Ach well: The mind is like a parachute. It only works when it’s open!

So Robin, you have all my support because, as George Orwell put it so well: In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.

And if you want to use this testimonial feel free

Greetings & have a Great Day.

Dog training with positive reinforcement is a good thing, please don’t misunderstand the intent of my posting this letter. But the use of one quadrant out of four, forsaking the value of the others, should not be shoved down the throats of unknowing pet owners with for the sake of one’s ideology.

**note: the authors reference to NEPOPO, is a term Mr. Bellon uses to help others understand the reinforcement sequence when using e-collar training. It is an acronym for; Negative, Positive, Positive.

Ne = e-collar stimulation, Po=removal of stimulation, Po=Addition of reward




Remote Collar Users: We’d like to hear your side of the story

Some of you may have heard of the petition proposed in Canada for the banning of electronic training equipment. On June 6th Libby Davies of East Vancouver submitted the proposal to Parliament.

I would like to think that common sense will prevail and there is little cause for concern. However, I am deeply aware this may not be the case.

Emotion is easy to sway and a passion to *do good* or be *part of a movement* can often get in the way of making rational choices.

Watch this rather unsettling video for an example of what I mean.

I’d like to encourage those of you who support the idea of choice regarding dog training tools to join this new Facebook page.

It is through strength in numbers I am hoping we can demonstrate to the world that limiting options is not in the best interest of our dogs. Please join and share you dog’s stories and photos.

To my Canadian readers, please contact Ms. Davies and express your opposition to this ban.
Libby Davies, House of Commons, Ottawa K1A 0A6 Tel (613) 992-6030 Fax: (613) 995-7412 Email:
2412 Main Street, Vancouver, V5T 3E2 Tel (604) 775-5800 Fax (604) 775-5811

Hey Canada, so you want to ban shock collars?

Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East is supporting this ban shock collars petition and presenting to parliament.

I have a question for you Ms. Davies and the 1400 who signed this petition…can you please explain your decision to Cindy who has MS and has already tried 3 other trainers and just about gave up on her dog before she found a humane and effective solution with a remote dog training collar.

shock collars vancouver, BC canada

Granted, I understand Continue reading “Hey Canada, so you want to ban shock collars?”

Is a Remote Dog Training Collar a substitue for a leash?

I had an interesting call the other day from an Animal Control officer wanting to know my take on whether or not a remote dog training collar should be considered the same as a leash. Apparently the idea was proposed that city ordinances be altered to include e-collars as an acceptable substitute for a physical leash.

Those of you that have been following this blog for a while are probably pretty aware that you won’t find a much bigger advocate for remote collar dog training than myself so do you want to guess my response? Continue reading “Is a Remote Dog Training Collar a substitue for a leash?”

Ian Dunbar’s “Science based Dog Training” and opinions about Remote collar training

I received a post card in the mail the other day. It is an ad for Ian Dunbar’s workshop that is currently touring the US. The title is: Science-Based Dog Training with Feeling. I’m thinking about going because the information makes it sound as though Dr. Dunbar is promoting some use of consequence as a responsible part of dog training, which makes me curious about the presentation.

I’ve seen Dr. Dunbar in the past, in fact his tapes Sirius Dog and Puppy Training were some of the first material I studied way back in the early 90’s when I was learning more about training and how dog’s learn. He has a lot of excellent information and I learned Continue reading “Ian Dunbar’s “Science based Dog Training” and opinions about Remote collar training”

Announcing: The No Nylon Lead Coalition

I realize the headline to the left is upsetting. It is upsetting to me as well. But I would like to use the story from The Daily Record in Wooster, OH to open some discussion regarding dog training and the tools used to achieve that objective.

The recent story states that charges were filed after an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper witnessed a man strike his dog an estimated four or five times with a nylon lead in an “attempt to train it”. The charges were later reduced and the man pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after it was determined that the dog was not injured.

The idea of beating a dog makes me ill and I am glad there was some recourse for the actions of this man. Personally I would like to see him forced to take and pass a decent obedience course or otherwise relinquish the dog. The dude needs some serious education, not to mention anger management.

But, to the point of this discussion: How come no one is rising up and asking for a ban on nylon leads?

We have forces pushing for bans on electronic training equipment as well as other tools, yet here is a clear case of abuse of a tool. The general mantra is that we should not have tools that have the potential to be misused available to the general public.

So lets get rid of the potential for any other dog to be hurt by the nylon lead. Actually while we’re at it, we better go for the cotton, leather and chain leads also…oh and perhaps rope too. If there is potential for these tools to be misused, it is best to do away with them.


Remote Collar Manufactuers: What you Don’t know Might Shock you!

electronic collar training

I recently returned from visiting Radio Systems Corp in Knoxville, TN. Radio Systems is the parent company for a number of electronic dog training product manufacturers.  One of their brands is PetSafe, whose name was recently in the news in association with attempting to challenge the ban on electronic training aids in Wales.

I certainly recognize that people in the anti-Static correction campaigns are likely jumping for joy at the upheld ban and this will be Continue reading “Remote Collar Manufactuers: What you Don’t know Might Shock you!”

Shock me smarter? New evidence that e-stim can aid some brain functions

rottweiller remote collar training

Over the years there have been a number of people suggest (well, more like threaten) “Somebody should put a remote collar on you and shock you, then see how you like it!” While I have responded that I have felt E-collar stimulation Continue reading “Shock me smarter? New evidence that e-stim can aid some brain functions”