E-Collars for Dog Training: In the Spirit of Valentines Day

E-Collars for Dog Training

 

Using e-collars for dog training is often a common debate among dog owners and trainers. I have seen a few petitions in the past about banning e-collars and prong collars, a shop owner being targeted at Crofts in a campaign to slander and harass his company for even selling such tools. I saw a petition to not allow dogs wearing certain tools such as e-collars, be allowed at a dog event in a public park in Indiana. I read a piece written by a YouTube dog trainer lambasting “shock collar trainers” (his words) and calling one individual by name saying he  “deserves to be corrected very publicly.”

Is it just me or does it strike anyone else as ironic that some of the self proclaimed all positive types have so much venom in them? Their own professed ideology doesn’t seem to hold up when it comes to interacting with human beings.

I mean if you really, truly, in your heart of hearts believe that the MOST effective way to modify behavior is to reward what you want and ignore what you don’t want than how come that latitude is not extended to your own species?

After a bit of surfing I scratched my head, took a deep sigh and then proceeded with my usual course of action when I’m disgusted by the lack of common decency that is so often present on the internet. I clicked off the computer and went out to work with the dogs and our clients who love them.

That is when reality set back in. The internet is just a whole lot of noise. My life is about the dogs and their people. About trying to create a relationship that works. It is what I will continue to focus on. I don’t care what tool any person or trainer chooses.

I care HOW a tool is used and I care that ultimately we are helping dogs stay in their forever home and strengthening the bond between owner and their companion animal.

I am going to continue to chose a loving approach to my dealings with my clients, their dogs, my fellow trainers and even those of you who hate me.

Yes, I get your e-mails and your You tube comments that call me all sorts of ugly names.  I’ll continue to respond by inviting you here to my facility to see things for yourself. And you can continue to ignore those invitations. You can continue the war, for apparently you get some sort of reward from the feud itself. Not me my friend, the fight isn’t worth it. My rewards are far, far greater. Here are just a few of them from this week:

shock collar for dogs
Chupa
remote dog collar
Harley
dog training collar
Zoey
shock collars
Lincoln & Sawyer
remote collar dog training
Masey

Everything was summed up pretty darn clear early yesterday morning when I was out shoveling the parking area and one of our clients arrived to drop off his dog for our Day School program. We exchanged a few words of greeting and he said “this is so amazing, I love my dog now. We were both so stressed before, now we can actually enjoy each other.”

I don’t care how you travel that path folks. As long as you get their humanely. If that kind of dialogue is the outcome, then we are all playing for the same team.

Happy Valentines Day.

Woof!

*Updated 2/1/2016

Electric Collar Dog Training: It’s More Than Just the Tool

Electric Collar Training: Good Dog Training Is More Than Just the Tool You Choose

Anyone who spends more than 10 seconds on this blog can figure out that it’s primary purpose is to explore ideas and concepts surrounding the use of electronic collars.  A bit of browsing and you can find advice on some of the basic concepts for successfully using an electronic collar, read about other peoples experiences with this training and enjoy a guest post from some of my professional colleagues.

But when trying to resolve behavior problems it is important that we are also aware of possible underlying conditions contributing to the issues. Electronic collars are great tools, but  I want to make certain that we all understand that training and successfully solving behavioral issues is a complex process. There are a myriad of tools and techniques that are helpful in providing solutions, but IF there are underlying health issues that are unresolved or other foundational issues, no amount of work and practice is going to make a significant difference.

There are so many considerations to take into account when you are trying to resolve problems with your dog but I’d like to offer a foundation to consider before you move forward on deciding what direction to go. With that in mind, here are some questions to ask yourself;

Do I provide my dog with adequate exercise?

Having a big yard does not fill a dog’s need for exercise. Just because the dog has a large amount of space does not mean they will take advantage of it and diligently ‘work out’ on their own in order to release pent up energy. A dog who does not have an adequate exercise routine will generally work out their frustration in ways that we find unacceptable. Inappropriate chewing, whining, digging, and general restlessness are often resolved with an increase in exercise.

Do I feed my dog a highly nutritious diet?

The advertising on T.V. isn’t all what it is cracked up to be. Most of the slick ads you see in print and other media are for foods that range from barely adequate to lousy in terms of the nutrient requirements for our dogs. What you feed your dog is what fuels their body and mind. Junk in = junk out. Need to brush up your knowledge about dog food? Check out this site to see how your dog food rates in terms of quality. For those who are curious, here is what I feed my dogs.

Have I created structure and leadership routines in my daily interactions with my dog?

Dogs flourish best in environments that have clear leadership protocols established. They don’t get bored with routine and structure. They actually feel secure and exhibit far fewer behavioral problems when they have someone else (ie. the humans in the household) making the decisions about what is and what is not allowable. Our dogs don’t need us to over think their level of ‘happiness’. They need us to be fair, reliable leaders they can trust to keep their best interest at heart. That means rules, structure and consistency in their daily lifestyle.

Have I explored possible underlying health issues that may be the root cause of my dog’s behavioral problems?

In my experience this is commonly overlooked by many trainers and even many veterinarians. Too often, we leap to assumptions that the dog is ” very dominant”,  “just shy” or “fearful and reactive” or some other personality trait we label them with when the fact is there IS something physically wrong at the root of it all. A blood chem panel, a Complete thyroid test, a physical and gait analysis are just a few of the things to look for when evaluating many behavioral problems. Quite often dog-dog aggression has some root in past injury to the hind quarters that leads to the dog learning protectiveness when approached by other dogs. I’ve also seen tail chasing, OCD behavior resolve when the dog has realignment of the spine through chiropractic adjustments.

I’ve seen dogs labeled with “unprovoked human aggressive” behavior who are suffering ear or mouth infections that likely create such discomfort it is no wonder they bite someone who has tried to pet them. We’ve found dogs labeled by other trainers as “stubborn” to have Lyme disease with titers so high I can only assume their reluctance to do as told lies in the fact they are indeed in pain and have sore muscles. Shyness, odd fear reactions, unprovoked aggression problems, are just a few of the host of behavioral issues that can be related to thyroid disease, which according to Dr. Jean Dodds, a leading researcher in the field,  is often under diagnosed. Our dogs are not good at telling us they don’t feel well, at least not until the problem is so severe that it  becomes readily apparent. We need to be better detectives at exploring the possible underlying causes to some of these problems.

What I LOVE about training with an e-collar is that it is a fabulous tool that can truly enhance a relationship by supporting a solid training plan. What I HATE about promoting the use of an e-collar is when people jump to conclusions that they just have a bad dog and thus need to run to the store and purchase an electronic collar so they can take it home to “show the dog who’s boss”. That mindset needs to change. Do your dog a favor when you run into problems, hire a real professional who will help you rule out underlying causes and set you on the path of a solid training plan so you can build a better relationship together.

Whether it is a head halter, a clicker, a handful of treats, a leash, a prong collar, an electronic dog training collar, or a piece of rope…it is the tool between your two ears that is the most important, use it well.

 

*Updated 1/10/2016

Possessive behavior in dogs can be prevented.

Possessive behavior in dogs is dangerous but it can be prevented.

Big issues can arise when a dog becomes confident at defending bones, toys or other items. Some dogs even become possessive of people and won’t let others approach or sit next to “their human”. This is scary in a number of ways.

If a dog with resource guarding issues gets a hold of anything potentially dangerous it can be very challenging to try and take it away. It is now dangerous for the dog, plus dangerous that someone may get bit trying to remove the item. There is also a good deal of potential liability when owning a dog that has possessive behaviors. All too often it is the unknowing visitor or house guest that is the one who gets nipped or sometimes seriously hurt.

As with any behavior problem, trying to fix existing issues is much more difficult and time consuming than preventing them from ever getting started.

To help you get an idea of how to head off these problems of possessive behavior, I filmed one of the routine interactions we go through when dogs are here at the training facility.

We often have dogs practicing the Place command while we are attending to other tasks. For those who don’t know what a Place command is, we define it as the dog remaining on their mat or bed, (4 paws on) until given permission to go.

Today I noticed that the staff had given each of the dogs a food stuffed bone or rubber toy to chew on to keep them entertained. This was the perfect opportunity to see if any of the dogs in training had issues with possessive behavior and make sure we were heading off any potential problems.

Here is a quick look at what I did to help create the right associations for dogs being approached by humans when they had coveted items in their control.

https://youtu.be/zbPAkF_8Bb8

 

Notice that I always approached bearing gifts. I moved toward the dogs with something to offer. It gave them reason to look up, sniff my hand and discover something yummy was there waiting for them. I offered them several treats before I ever touched the item they were chewing on. When I did take a hold of the bone or toy, I shared possession of it with them, rather than taking it away.

Then I gave it back and let them enjoy in peace.

What I didn’t do was approach with an attitude of “I’m dominate and I’ll take things away if I darn well please.”

While I do firmly believe we need to teach our dogs to relinquish anything to us, I don’t think that an aggressive attitude will gain us cooperation in the long run. Making a stand to prove you can remove something from your dog’s mouth is not the best way to head off future problems of possessive behavior.

Even if I prove to a dog that I am bigger, stronger and more dominate, that isn’t going to have any carry over with the next person or make the dog any safer with other guests, family members or children.

Let me explain the rational for my approach this way:

Imagine yourself, sitting in a restaurant, enjoying a wonderful meal. You’re fully engaged in eating, not anywhere near done and the waiter comes up, reaches in and takes away your plate. You try to take the plate back and he pulls it farther away and tells you No.

How exactly do you feel about that? I mean after all, it’s not yours right? You haven’t paid the bill yet. That food belongs to the restaurant and if they want to take it back, well, then they are entitled. Now let’s suppose that happens a few times. Apparently restaurateurs and waiters are out to teach you a lesson about not trying to possess food and that you should give up your plate willingly at any time.

How’s this lesson working out so far? I am guessing that you are starting to feel a bit apprehensive and perhaps even defensive when a waiter approaches your table?

Now lets imagine a different scenario. You’re eating your meal, the waiter approaches and offers you a sample of a very awesome new appetizer that just came out of the oven, then he offers to move your plate so he can make room for a new dish they want you to sample as well. Later he comes back to top off your drink and gives you a piece of dessert

Do you see how the waiters approach now has created anticipation of “what great thing is coming next!” rather than apprehension that you might lose something of value?

And if the waiter did have to come to take your plate away from you quickly because they just discovered their was something wrong with the food…you would not have developed the desire to hide or horde your meal. The waiter could remove the plate with little resistance or defensiveness from you.

Possessive behavior is a pretty natural state of being. Without some innate sense of it, I doubt any of us, dogs or humans, would have survived very long.

The thing is, we want to teach our dogs that it isn’t necessary.

The goal should be to develop a dog that trusts us enough to take away a coveted item. That trust is built by having a higher ratio of giving rather than taking when we approach our dogs.

The training takes a little practice and the ideal time to start is with a young pup that hasn’t learned (or at least hasn’t had lots of practice) with the habit of defensiveness yet.

If you have a dog that growls, snaps or bite in situations like this, please get professional help. By the time the dog is bearing teeth you are already having serious issues with possessive behavior.

 

 

Dog Aggression rehab? Commitment is the keyword.

Dog aggression is not a fun topic.

I know some dog trainers probably see it as sort of sexy and seem to take a lot of pride in repeating the phrase “I work with aggressive dogs” There has been a good deal of television culture and drama built around the buzz concepts of dog aggression, dogs that bite, and rehabilitation.

There is nothing sexy or exciting about it, IMO. It is sad. It breaks my heart a little bit each time I have to respond to a client inquiry about a dog that has bit someone.

The reality is, at that point, the dog human relationship is going through major breakdown and the real, day to day work that needs to be done to fix it isn’t all the glamorous.

The process of changing the behavior can be draining and often tedious. I don’t like to sound like a Debbie Downer because most of the time dog aggression CAN be changed. However, I like people to realize up front there is no quick fix.

Changing the behavior of a dog that is having problems with aggression means changing the behavior of the human(s) who live with the dog.

I want to introduce you to Si, a white GSD that some of you may remember seeing on the That’s My Dog! Facebook page back in the fall of 2014 when he came to us to start working on changing his mindset about the world he lived in. This is a picture from his first week in training.

white gsd

Si was under socialized, anxious and reactive to any sudden change in the environment. He had 3 bites in his short history when his owner found us and committed to a training program to try and help him.

I’d like you to focus in on the word committed in the sentence above. That has been the key to the story I’m about to tell. Si’s owner didn’t just commit to spending the money to have someone “fix” his dog aggression. She committed to doing the work and making the changes that would be needed. Without that firm intention being in place, we would have been doomed to fail.

A talented dog trainer can get most dogs to behave perfectly for them, but there is no magic pixy dust we can sprinkle or put in the animals food that will keep the improved behavior in place. The owner must learn to replicate the process and behave in a way similar to the trainer if we are going to succeed. And the commitment must last for the lifetime of the dog.

Si spent a couple weeks with us in a board and train program. The B&T program provides us a clean slate to start new routines without the interference of the dog being in his comfort zone at home where the inappropriate learned behaviors started. It gives the trainer an advantage because the dog is off kilter for the first few days. He doesn’t know the people, doesn’t know the terrain and doesn’t know the daily routine in this new place. That means he’s often a bit more hesitant and doesn’t react as confidently as he would on his home turf. It is the same reason kids are often better behaved at school then they are at home.

So, with an insecure dog who has learned to use his teeth to take care of anything “scary” the first things he learns with us is; if you want to eat, you eat from us, if you want to pee, you pee while out on a leash with us, if you want to walk and play, you play with us. You want an enticing treat, you must tolerate being touched before we will release it. Through successive approximation of closer and closer proximity, we build the dogs trust in humans by not giving the dog an option to do the daily necessities on his own.

Then we layer in obedience. We teach the dog that if: You want to go out the door, you must sit/stay first. You want us toss the ball, you must come when called and sit nearby before we will sling it again. You want to go for a walk, you will walk nicely by our side. Obedience builds the foundation for taking direction from humans.

Next we begin to take the obedience skills and expose them to more pressure in the real world. Pressure is the one thing an anxious dog has never been taught how to cope with. It is pressure when a dog who has never been off the farm, goes into the city.It is pressure when a dog that lacks confidence is approached on the sidewalk by a passer-by. Exposure to the ‘real world’ with the guidance of a calm, stable leader using obedience to communicate how he should respond in the moment actually takes the pressure OFF of the dog for making his own decisions. If I insist the dog sit when someone passes, he can discover that the bogey man in the big winter coat just passed on by, or maybe the bogey man even dropped a juicy tidbit to be enjoyed.

The other thing that obedience can be used for is to build exploratory behavior and confidence. I want an anxious dog to become more comfortable in his surroundings, not by using his vocalizations and teeth to drive everything away, but rather by learning to explore and trust more of the world around him.

Using obedience for “urban agility” is what I’ve found to be one of the best ways to get this task accomplished. Taking an insecure dog and teaching him to sit/walk/down/place and recall, all while going over, under and across obstacles in the world (picnic tables, downed trees, retaining walls, park benches, etc.) brings a dog out of his shell in the same way that teaching a kid to swim, bike and climb trees creates body awareness and confidence in oneself.

This was the essence of Si’s weeks with us at That’s My Dog! Each day was the layering on of just a bit more learning and confidence building. I took these pictures on Si’s first field trip away from the training facility.

si3 si4

You can see how difficult it was to get him to focus on me with the camera. His tight facial expression and his head was on a swivel concerned about any possible new thing or change in the environment. There were days of frustration, for both of us. But we kept at it. Each day, new outings, new experiences and we also used integration with other stable dogs to help expedite his processing.

In a few weeks we felt he was ready to go home. The key would be that his owner now follow through with all the new expectations. Once Si walked back onto his familiar turf, mom needed to make sure that the rules had followed him home and not allow him to fall back into old patterns of behavior. This is the critical stage.

We believe it is only natural for a dog to revert to behavior that was once acceptable. The solution is the human becoming aware and intervening before those patterns emerge again.

Si’s mom did her best not to let that happen and the photo at the beginning of this article is a testament to her commitment. He is so improved and you can see it in his face and expression. This is a dog that is learning to be comfortable in his own skin. A dog that is learning to trust more and react less. It is the visual reminder of why we do the work we do.

We are so proud of both Si and his owner!

It is so important to remember that commitment to change is the biggest factor in resolving dog aggression.

 

Invisible Fence and the Blame Game

The Invisible Fence

I was surfing Facebook when I came across a link that had been shared numerous times. The title was a Rant and a Plea by Dr. Jennifer Rouse.

Dr. Rouse is a DVM in Pennsylvania, US.

The story was an unfortunate one about one of her Veterinary Assistants who had been attacked while out for a walk with her dog. There are a number of interesting bits to the story in that the dog that did the attacking was a Golden Retriever and the dog that defended its owner was a Pit Bull mix.

Dr. Rouse had some valid points in her rant, including that ANY breed can bite. She also pointed out that her friend had done the work and took the time to train her Pit Bull and build in a factor of reliability. That is to be congratulated. Training is something we need to promote over and over and over again. Training is what should have been done with the Golden Retriever in question.

But what Dr. Rouse went on to do is to assign blame about the Golden’s aggressive behavior to an invisible fence system the dog was supposedly contained by.

I think that is a big conclusion to jump to but Dr. Rouse isn’t alone in her opinion. I’ve seen plenty of folks jump on the “blame invisible fence” bandwagon. Electronic products are an easy scapegoat simply by essence of being “electric” and therefore scary in many peoples mind. Plus, assigning blame is pretty much the norm now-a-days. Too often people prefer to take refuge in castigating something rather than point the finger at the “someone” who is actually responsible.

Kinda like:
Alcohol is responsible for drunk driving.

Guns are responsible for violence.

And sugar causes health problems.

Anybody else have a “hey wait a minute” moment when they read those 3 statements?

Good for you. That means you get it.

It, being that things aren’t responsible for outcomes. People are.

People need to take responsibility for their dogs. That means acknowledging if your dog has an aggression problem and dealing with it. It means recognizing that many, if not most, dogs can develop territorial issues if left unsupervised on what they come to believe is their turf.

If Dr. Rouse’s statement that “invisible fences are dangerous…” is correct then how do we explain all those millions of dogs on the invisible boundary systems around the world that have no aggression problems and have never attacked anybody?

If we are to draw the conclusion that a type of containment system is responsible for aggressive behavior, then it is only fair to draw that conclusion with other containment systems yielding similar outcomes, don’t you think?

Which means we then need to draw the same conclusion for those dogs that are contained by regular, solid structure fencing that have bolted the gate, or jumped the wall and tore someone up.

And it means we need to blame the chains for those dogs on tie-outs when they broke and the dog bolted and bit the kid riding his bike down the sidewalk.

Personally, I don’t agree with those types of conclusions. I think they are short sighted.
They tend to propagate from a sense of fear and outrage when we can’t easily come to grips with something that is as distressing as a dog attacking a human.

What would happen if we direct the finger of responsibility where it really needs to be pointed? To us, the humans.

What if we spent time teaching dog owners to step up?

How about this: If your dog is outside in the yard, be outside with him. Be engaged with him. Don’t expect him to lounge around in a yard for hours and then make wise decisions about passers-by without you there for guidance.

Yes, I know there are some dogs that are just fine being alone in the yard, but many, many are not.

Dogs came into our existence primarily because we humans liked and encouraged territorial and guarding behavior. In our primitive past it served as an early warning system and helped save our skin. That protective DNA that we began to selectively breed for hasn’t changed all that much.

Dog’s left unsupervised in the yard very often become dogs that go on guard duty. It is the human’s responsibility to train and manage their dog.

A containment system, regardless of what type, is an aid. It provides some measure of safety assurance that the dog isn’t in the street. It should not be a baby sitter and it is not responsible for your dog’s good or bad behavior. You are.

Clarity and Conflict in Dog Training

My travels have introduced me to trainers, competitors, and enthusiasts who have a passion for dogs and an obvious understanding of how to connect with them. I’m grateful for having had the  opportunity to meet so many talented dog people through the years. Jonathan Brinkley is one of those people. We met while I was teaching a workshop at Kennel Club USA in Ohio a few years back. Jon understands how dogs learn, has a versatile tool box, and an open mind that is always willing to explore new ideas. I asked him if he would be interested in a guest post and here what I got back. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jon and tell your wife to say “Lobster” next time you need dinner plans! 😉

Clarity and Conflict in Dog Training

In dog training, I believe understanding clarity and conflict’s role is monumental. In my honest opinion, through the history of the dog, dogs have become conflict resolving experts. So often the idea of dominance is argued, but at best, we generally now interpret it as a way of establishing cohesion, order, and resolving problems within groups of dogs. As dogs have been forced to adapt to human life and expectations (and honestly done a phenomenal job at it) they face conflict on a daily basis. Unfortunately for them, the human dog relationship evolves quicker than nature, and has been somewhat unkind in allowing them to be quite as successful in resolving contention under the terms of human life, which is partly due to the average person’s understanding on dog behavior and communication in general. In part this lack of understanding creates a lack of clarity and reduces the dog’s opportunity not only to develop conflict resolving mechanisms, but hinders their chance to use them. Perhaps this is why social programs such as large field socialization for dogs have been so successful in dealing with social dog aggression, fear, and other social behavioral problems.

In these socials, dogs are given the chance to understand and build confidence in using natural communication to work through stressful scenarios. In most cases, this is most successful when clarity accompanies it. A well-adjusted dog can correct with very little conflict applied to the scenario, through displacement, spatial pressure, calming gestures, or even physical contact. At first, a dog new to this may not understand a correction, and may even react. But the application of pressure and the precise release of it is what it allows for the dog to understand, not escalate and learn from it.   During training, creating clarity remains one of the most important goals we have with each dog we work with. It is what allows resolution to be effective.

So how does this apply to remote training, or balanced training? Recently a dog came to me who would do sit, down, heel, walk nicely, but attack other dogs, bite when you touched its collar, flip out over grooming, and bite its owners during petting. What was most clear to me, was the dog was facing conflict and no one had shown the dog how to avoid it. The dog had been completely reward trained (to provide a disclaimer, this doesn’t mean that the dog couldn’t have succeeded with positive training) but it had failed to create a clear path through stress for this dog. The dog could offer a variety of positive behaviors, but could not use them in the face of discord. A variety of methods including systematic desensitizing, counter conditioning, and classical conditioning were used in her training, alongside a prong collar and a remote collar, corrections and pressure, both conditioned separately to their own purposes.  Let us not forget, a correction or pressure given clearly and clearly understood is a way of resolving social issues among dogs. Instead of just showing the dog that conflict could be resolved by taking action, we can show it could also be resolved by avoiding certain action as well. This perhaps is why I believe so much in open mindedness in training surrounding the tools of the trade. If they are used to create clarity, they increase the chance of resolving conflict. A dog can at one moment, face a wide variety of competing motivators of a wide variety of values to the specific dog. We unfortunately cannot choose what has the highest value. We can manipulate drives, encourage, etc…but in the end, it is what the dog believes is rewarding. Unfortunately, we cannot always control all the elements in real world environments. Perhaps in a sterile environment, where owners were willing to wait months or a year to see the needed change to not give up their dog, we could approach it without using the “dark side” of training. For some dogs, this may be easier to achieve. The question lies in how long drawing out stress in certain situations is less productive or more productive.

Now one may say, you are applying conflict to resolve conflict, isn’t that somewhat counter-productive? Choosing to do a self-rewarding behavior or an owner rewarded behavior produces conflict as well. Choosing between a cookie, and lunging at the other dog is a conflict. Yes, a remote collar can create conflict. The goal is to make it a short term problem, that later provides clarity and reduces the struggle in whole.  Wait, here comes those words coined as bad: Punishment and Suppression! Suppression in training is not a dirty concept. I look at suppression like a lock in a room with multiple doors. If the goal is to get out of the room, only locking the doors is sure to fail. The subject will eventually beat down the door. However, locking one door and placing an exit sign on another, reinforces one path and creates inhibition towards the other. By showing the dog that pressure is applied when certain actions are taken, it creates space for a dog to look for another option in coping with the situation. That pressure can also guide the dog to the alternative option that is also highly rewarding. The stress applied becomes short term, because it allows the dog to practice the alternative behavior or coping mechanism, and allows for the dog to be reinforced for a better mechanism for dealing with the stress as well as not reinforcing past coping mechanisms. When the dog begins resorting to these appropriate coping mechanisms, clarity is achieved.  IT can become easier to choose one rewarding option over another competing motivator, because the value of the uncontrolled motivator can be lowered.

In layman’s terms, I see this as making the choice easier. The easier the choice is, and the more defined the path, the greater chance success can be achieved. The goal of any behavioral modification program should be the reduction of conflict the dog will eventually face in the long term.  How well this is achieved is hardly because of the tool itself, but the application of the tool by someone skilled in using it. If you gave me a cookie every time I walked away from the guitar, I would walk away from it, until playing guitar sounded like a better idea. My cookie drive is pretty low.  However, if the guitar no longer seems like the better option, I would be more likely to choose moving away from it. Only showing what is desirable leaves many options with desirable outcomes. I’ll end with a quick anecdote. My wife and I are the kind of people who can be equally indecisive about what to do with our Friday night. Secretly, I love it when she says, “Well let’s do this!” and puts her foot down. Why? Sometimes options are more stressful than having a clearly defined path, even if it wasn’t the top choice on my list of preferences.

remote collar

Remote collar dog training is more than just pushing the button

Congratulations to the newest graduates of our remote collar training E-cademy program. These ladies spent 10 days at That’s My Dog! Inc in Dubuque, Iowa learning more about my approach to using electronic collars and enhancing this part of their skill set. It is a challenging course. The days can be long so I am always proud of the endurance of students who are away from their homes, their dogs and their businesses. Job well done gals!

 

E-cademy

 

The training course starts out by laying a solid foundation of e-collar conditioning based on what has long been know to be the 3 Action Introduction…meaning we teach the dogs that stimulation can be used to motivate behavior in 3 directions: Push, (move away) Pull (move toward) or Stop (stationary).

Once dogs fully comprehend those 3 actions the training that can be accomplished with remote collar guidance is virtually limitless.

We spend a great deal of time talking about what really makes this training an art form; a trainers ability to have a deep reservoir of ideas on how to help a dog understand exactly what we’re trying to communicate through the tactile sensation. We covered the use of food luring, marker training, leash manipulation, body language that utilizes spacial pressure to shape behavior, using toys, manipulating drives and more.

In addition to working with the dogs we discuss how to solve the other half of the training equation: the humans. Teaching dog owners how to use the remote collar (rather than how to use a “shock” collar) is an essential part of the program. If the human can’t be taught easy to replicate techniques for working with their dog, no program will be successful regardless of the tool.

remote collar

Beyond the basics of how to use a remote collar for obedience training, we also discussed how the tool can be incorporated into rehabilitation programs. The cadence of tapping can be used to calm or to excite and thus change emotional programing. Much the way patting a baby can be used to lull in calmness or swift paced marching & chanting takes adrenaline to a higher level. Cadence has a purpose and it is a powerful influence once there is understanding of how to use it.

On the final written test I asked the students to share some of the most valuable lessons they learned during their time here. Here are a few of the answers:

* Opening my eyes to what I see as a much more fair, non-confrontational method.

* More solid ways to proof a dog’s reliability.

* The importance of obedience and how it can be used to redirect a dog’s mind.

* How important it is to help the dog when learning new behaviors with a remote collar.

* How to engage a dog who’s body may be with you, but his mind is not.

* Learning to read the dog’s body language.

and one additional comment that I personally gained satisfaction from.. That “the $3500 + for this learning experience was a very good investment!”

That makes me feel good. I never want to fall short on giving my students value for the time and energy they devote to coming here. Knowing that another trainer took time to study remote collars more fully means they can go forth and make choices for their clients based on experience, rather than hearsay.

The words Shock Collar make me cringe

Yes, it is a true, those two words, Shock collar, don’t sit well with me. Not because I’m opposed to electronic collars, but because they further a perception that is inaccurate.

I recently gave a presentation for Scott Mueller and 16 of his students at Canine Workshops in Columbus, OH. Early in the day I directed students to this blog but made an apology for it’s title.

 

shock collar

 

 

The words “Shock collar” bother me too but the title of the blog was born out of necessity.

 

Until people are better informed on the versatility of electronic training collars it takes continual effort to educate about all the none painful ways they can be utilized. Remote training collars are what you make of them, they are no more shocking than a medical professionals TENs Unit. If you turn it up too high, they are certainly uncomfortable and can cause a significant startle response. Used appropriately the stimulation is at worse a mild aversive and at best a unique sensation that can be associated with any number of meanings.

That is what I set out to demonstrate to my fellow dog trainers during our time together. We talked about my belief that there are only 3 true levels on any of the remote collars on the market: too low (the sensation is undetected or does not gain the dogs attention) too high (the sensation startles or disrupts the dogs ability to learn) and Just Right (the sensation gains attention and enhances the dogs ability to learn).

 

The words “shock collar” apply when we are “too high”. That is a level we are encouraging people to avoid.

 

Instead of frustration with a dog’s behavior sending one running to the store to purchase a “shock collar” to punish a dog for doing “bad” we talked about the critical step of understanding HOW to TEACH the dog what attention getting sensation means. Teach the dog how to respond and have control of it. The feedback the dog gains is much like the child’s game of Hot and Cold and it is why the learning is so rapid when a remote collar is properly applied.

We talked about the use of rewards, proper timing, how body language influences, how to work in drive for more flashy performance.

I had a wonderful time. Thank you to Scott for hosting me and thank you to all who attended. I hope that the overall theme became apparent to everyone who was there. Our perception of the tool is what influences how we utilize it. I hope we choose wisely. Electronic training collars can be used to teach or it can be used as a “shock collar”

Q&A about Remote collar dog training.

Questions & Answers: Remote Collar Dog Training

Recently I had a chat with Ty Brown of Dog Behavior Online about e-collar training.

We discussed some of the basic training concepts as well as some of the commonly held misconceptions such as; can e-collars be used with anxious dogs? Are they ok to use in the case of aggression issues. Are they really humane and how do they feel?

What does it mean to use the Just Right level? I remember what it feels like to touch an electric fence, is that what a remote collar feels like? These are some of the many questions that Ty asked me.

Want to know my thoughts on it all?

Click to hear the:  E-collar interview

Remote collar dog training

Hero listens in…

Remote collar training workshop in Texas

This past weekend I was in Texas presenting a remote collar training workshop with On The Ball K-9 Training. We had a wonderful group of participants, both pet owners and other professional dog trainers. The dogs ranged from young pups to older dogs with behavioral issues.

Regardless of age or past history, we started at the beginning and learned the foundation skills necessary to build better behavior. The foundation skills of remote collar training include teaching the dog that stimulation can prompt behavior to move toward the handler, away from the handler or stop and remain stationary. Once those three concepts are clear in the dogs mind you can use them to create good manners and manage behavior problems. The handlers worked on a variety of skills to teach those concepts including; loose lead following, recalls, going to a place, learning to heel & sit and how to play red light/green light to work on impulse control and train in drive.

We discussed a great deal about how such skills help us to convey to our dogs that we are the leaders or decision makers and they are the followers. It is a philosophy I feel is essential for having a properly defined relationship with a dog. It is how we keep our dogs safe yet allow them to enjoy being integrated into the world around them.

I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the pictures. I also wanted Continue reading “Remote collar training workshop in Texas”