A while back I wrote about the level of stimulation that should be used when training a dog with an electronic, remote collar. That article addressed the concept of adjusting the intensity to fit the situation. As a general rule, less stimulation is needed during the regular daily routine and more is needed when things get exciting and the dog’s adrenaline level goes up. Adjusting the intensity is similar to turning up the volume on a radio or television when there is more noise in the surrounding area.
However, there is another key point to understanding intensity selection and finding what works for your dog when you are getting started with collar conditioning.
And the point is: Never assume.
You know the old saying about the word assume? It makes an a** out of u and me.
That is what will happen when we assume what level a dog might work on. A guess can not be made based on the dog’s size, age, breed, length of hair coat or temperament.
A dog’s sensitivity is as individual to them as our sensitivity is to hot water. Some people can take it HOT (that would be me) and others (like my daughter) pull back when it is barely above luke warm. And we share pretty similar DNA!
There is no reliable way to tell what will be the right number until you actually get started. That is why I always recommend starting a new dog at the bottom and working up until finding a level that gets attention.
Just yesterday I was working with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who was at 75% of the collars capacity before she bothered to give me a second glance and notice anything was even happening.
Then today while working a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix I was at 5% of the collar’s full strength and getting great attention even in the midst of some heavy distraction.
Both of those dogs were large breed, very distracted and driven. Had I assumed that the Rhodesian might work at a level similar to the Chessie……well, I don’t think my clients would of been too impressed.
The number on the dial is only a reference point for the novice handler learning to work with a remote collar. In reality the whole idea of “what number are you on?” is irrelevant. It is why I titled my first instructional dvd, Just Right. That is all that matters.
The only valid information is how the dog is reacting to the stimulation. A collar can be set at only one of three levels, too low, too high or just right and the dog tells you which number that should be.
The moral of the story is to learn to read your dog, all the info is there.
So very true Robin. It’s a message that bears repeating to owners. It’s too tempting for them to get comfortable with using a “number” instead of the just right level for the dog and the situation.