Tips for Remote Collar Dog Training
I spend a lot of time on this blog sharing success stories from people who have used remote collar dog training as part of a balanced training program to rehabilitate their dog. I also spend a fair amount of time expressing my opinions on training in general and talking about what to do if you are thinking about purchasing a remote collar to add to your dog’s training tools.
What I try not to do is give you a bunch of absolutes as in Never This or Always That.
I believe things are rarely black and white decisions. Most situations have various shades of gray involved that need to be considered.
I am going to break my own rules today and give you the list of absolutes in regard to remote collar dog training, so here we go:
1. Never purchase a remote collar just because you are frustrated with your dog’s behavior and you want to “show him/her once and for all!”
Do your homework and purchase a remote collar when you are ready to invest the time to teach your dog the alternative good behaviors that you expect)
2. Always start your remote collar conditioning training in an area with limited distractions. This allows you to use the lowest possible setting to get your dog’s attention and to TEACH your dog how to have control over the sensation. AFTER you’ve done some thorough conditioning THEN you can begin to expose your dog to the situations and triggers you’ve been struggling with.
3. Never start your remote collar training off leash. That is setting you and your dog up for failure. A leash or drag line allows you to assist the dog in being successful with the requested task. You should also be incorporating treats, toys, play and praise as part of the training. The “Help” part of the early training is crucial to a positive outcome of having a dog who fully understands what is being asked and will respond enthusiastically.
4. Always be in the right frame of mind when you are working with your dog. If your attitude is frustration, uncertainty or anger, it will travel down the leash. If you are uncertain about how to use a remote collar, GET EDUCATED. You wouldn’t buy all the right tools to work on your car’s engine without having the knowledge to know what you’re doing would you? When you are training you are working on your dog’s mind. Learn how it works and how to teach your dog to respond to your expectations. Then practice what you’ve learned with patience and a good attitude.
5. Never expect your dog to “know” what the stimulation means when you first start training. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done years of previous training or not, the first time you put a remote collar on your dog is still the first time your dog has any experience with it. You have to start at the beginning and TEACH the dog how to respond to it. Having the expectation that “my dog knows” is like expecting someone to be able to read French just because they know Spanish and Mandarin. The is a new tool and a new way of communicating and it needs to be taught like anything else.
6. Always get professional help if possible. And this is especially true if you experience ANY problems in the training process. I realize there is a segment of the population that are “do-it-yourself” types, and even though I have 2 training dvd’s available to help guide people, I still feel strongly that you will get more out of the process if you have an experienced e-collar specialist give you some guidance. An experienced eye will just see some of the nuances that you might miss. Here is a list of some of my friends who can help.
For the record, I feel that way about any type of training, regardless of the tool.
There you have my list of Never and Always. I am hoping some of my trainer friends will chime in if I’ve forgotten anything. The main goal is to get us out of the dark ages of remote collar dog training and continue to move us into the age of remote communication with our canine companions.
I own a 7 month old unaltered American Lab bred from top hunting stock. He is a heathen. We have other Labs and while they were typical unruly pups, they were never this dominant at this age. We are seriously considering an e-collar (we were saving it for a last resort type situation) but our concern is that the other dogs we know that were trained on one have learned to recognize that when it is not on, they have free reign. We are looking to use this as a solution to get him under control, and not still have him on one 6 years from now. Advice?
If you search the site under the catagory of General Info I think you will find a few posts on the topic.
My feeling is that good training does not become dependent on any tool, be it leash, collar or food. Good training is about using knowledge to assist in the application of various tools to achieve a desired outcome. So the short answer is…if you enforce your expectations with your dog when the collar is on AND when the collar is off you will not build a dependency on the tool. 🙂 A well trained dog is one who has been raised by an owner who is consistent at all times. Dogs that are “collar wise” are owned by people that only follow through when the collar is on, that is a handler problem rather than a training tool problem.
I would add one thing to this. DO NOT GO CHEAP ON YOUR COLLAR. The cheap collars are where the issues are. You may have to order on-line or go to a hunting store in order to get a top quality e-collar.