Remote Collar Dog Training Techniques

Remote Collar Dog Training Techniques: Toys and Tricks

Learning some basic remote collar dog training techniques will teach you that your dog can have fun while learning commands and discipline.

I bet that feels like a pretty big deal, especially if you’ve tuned into much of the propaganda that is out there about “shock collars” also known as remote collars. I’m sure it sounds like “rubbish” as Victoria Stillwell might say. (Victoria the actress that portrays a dog trainer on the television show, It’s Me or the Dog.

But the truth is, it’s not a big deal if you know some basic remote collar dog training techniques whether you’re focusing on training techniques to include toys and or tricks.

Knowing what you are doing means understanding that the sensation is just that, a sensation and it can be conditioned to mean whatever the trainer decides they want it to mean.

The e-collar stimulation can be “too high” and that might mean whoa, stop that right now, get away from there or any other reason to create an avoidance response in your dog. I’d say that sort of use is generally when people refer to the tool as a shock collar. Or the e-collar stimulation can be “too low” and you can push the button till you’re blue in the face and the dog won’t seemingly mind or even notice. Or the e-collar stimulation can be “just right” and you can use it to prompt your dog’s attention into a behavior you would like.

It is up to the person holding the tool’s transmitter to decide if it’s a shock collar or a remote training collar.

I prefer using a remote training collar and it’s what I’ve taught my staff and what many other professional trainers around the world are also doing. (click here if you want to find help in your area)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so perhaps a video is worth even more. Here you go, you can decide.

This is typical toy dog training protocol at our place, you decide if it looks this little one is having fun or not?

*Updated 1/11/16

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

5 Ways to Mess Up Your Dog

5 Ways to Mess Up Your Dog

Most of the time, dog trainers invest effort trying to teach dog owners what to do to have a well- mannered, well-adjusted companion.

But sometimes it is helpful to look at things from another angle so let me share a few thoughts on how you can wreak havoc with your dog’s mental health and have a negative impact on their behavior.

These are some of the top ways that you can mess up your dog. After messing them up you can invest lots of effort, and sometimes large amounts of money, fixing the problems.

 

Top Five Ways to Mess Up Your Dog:

 

1. Leave Your Dog Tethered or Unattended Outside.

Doing this is one of the best ways to build aggression problems. A dog left unsupervised, outside while you are inside or not home often learns to take on a “guard duty” role.

It is instinctual for most dogs to feel protective of territory, so if the dog is alone in the yard there is little choice left for a dog other than to scare intruders away by barking, lunging or chasing.

It is important to remember that just because you know the neighbors are not threats, does not mean your dog understands that fact. Your dog is likely to view the mailman, the skateboarder or your children’s friends as scary intruders. Once a dog realizes that the actions of chasing, barking and lunging make people “go away”…it can be a rapid path to building serious aggression issues.

2. Provide Little Physical Exercise or Mental Activity.

This is easy. Get up, feed the dog, leave the house for a day at work, come home tired, make your dinner and take care of the kids, let the dog go out to the bathroom, collapse on the couch, yell at the dog for pestering you, watch t.v. then go to bed. Get up and repeat day in and day out.

Don’t bother with any walks, outings to the park or games of fetch because the dog already has a ‘big yard’ and dozens of toys to play with for entertainment. Treat your dog like an inmate. A penitentiary with plenty of books and an exercise yard should be an adequate living arrangement for years of exceptional mental health. ;-0

3. Enforce No Rules, Structure or Expectations.

Be sure not to crush little Fluffy’s spirit by actually stopping her from barking at and jumping on every guest that comes to your home. Allow Brutus to drag you wherever his heart desires when you walk him. This is especially true when Brutus just wants to “say Hi!”. Expecting your dog to actually to pay attention to you and walk nicely might stifle their exuberance.

As for treats, affection and new toys, dispense them liberally for no good reason other than how cute the look on Cujo’s face is when he barks at you.

Also, make sure you pet him and tell him everything is “ok” when he behaves that way.

While we are at it let’s apply the same philosophy to children. Hand them a candy bar or bribe with the potential of a new toy when they have a meltdown, or temper tantrum because at least it will occupy them for a while.

4. Yell at your Dog.

Anytime your dog is pestering you, getting on your nerves or doing anything other than being a couch potato, start yelling. Profanities will help, and the occasional whack on the nose for added emphasis will go a long way toward creating a cowering creature that finally learns to leave you alone.

If the above doesn’t work, just tie the dog outside so you do not have to deal with it. (see #1) Don’t bother to expend energy teaching the dog good behavior. Dog’s should just “know” how to behave properly.

5. Let Sympathy Rein.

When your dog shows hesitation, nervousness or anxiety around people or other dogs, pick him up, snuggle or stroke to reassure him it will all be ok.

Coo, coddle and dispense affection, otherwise known as “reinforcing the behavior.” This will ensure that the dog’s anxiety will worsen, but at least you will feel better when sharing the story about your poor dog that must have been abused before you rescued him.

DO NOT pull the big girl panties on, hiding your own emotional state from the dog to help it overcome past issues or lack of social skill. To do so would mean you have to act in your dog’s best interest much like a physical therapist does when they help people rehab from horrible accidents and physical limitations.
There you have it, the perfect recipe for a neurotic dog!

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.

 

Cincinnati, Ohio Dog Training Workshop

If you are curious about how to use a remote collar to train your dog, attend this upcoming workshop in Cincinnati, Ohio.

On March 29th & 30th I will be joining Virginia Simpson from Unleashed Obedience to teach the fundamentals of e-collar training. We are looking forward to an invigorating weekend of working dogs and learning together.

So if you have a young dog who is ready to get started down the path to amazing reliability and off leash freedom or an older dog who is in need of brushing up their behavior, this is the place to start. We welcome dogs of any age, breed and temperament to join us.

One of the bonuses of attending this workshop is it will bring you up to speed to learn more advanced skills later in 2014 when I revisit Ohio to teach an advanced workshop and a retrieve clinic. Trainers and pet owners should attend. This workshop will expand your understanding of dogs, training and all that can be achieved a remote collar and its wide variety of applications. You will be amazed at how much can be accomplished in just 2 days and I promise you a few ‘ah-ha’ moments as you learn more about my philosophy and approach to working with your dog.

Here is a brief bit of what I’ll be demonstrating:

  • Proper fit and collar conditioning techniques.
  • How to teach basic obedience (come, sit/stay, place, loose lead walking)
  • How to deal with behavior problems (resource guarding, door bolting, chasing, aggression, etc.)
  • What is truth and what is myth regarding remote collars. (collar wise?, burning? do they cause pain?)
  • What does your dog think about the training? (and that really is the MOST important question – come find out)

For more information or to register: 513.891.DOGS (3647) or virginia@cincydogtrainer.com

Me and Ms. Diva will see you there!

 

This dog understands Tap = Attention!

Just wanted to share some photos from this weeks video shoot. One of our regular day care attendees, Sam got into the act while shooting some short clips for the  iQ Pet training collars.

 

If you think the idea of Tap = Attention doesn’t work then you need to have a conversation with this Golden Retriever!

 

photo 1

He nailed it by very effectively  interrupting our shooting numerous times.  When the director called “Action!” and we went to roll, he gave me the gentle paw nudge as soon as I started to speak. And it worked, I laughed, lost my line and we had to start again! He is most certainly, Tap literate!

 

Tap = stop that,this human needs to focus!

So, I pulled the tried and true move…hand on his collar to stop his interruption…but apparently couldn’t keep my eyes open and talk at the same time. 🙂

Tennis ball saves the day!

And finally we found the magic green orb. (note the tennis ball in director’s left hand) to solve the problem. Sam sat mesmerized for the total minute, we got the shot, he got his ball. 🙂

 

 

 

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

Dog Trainers Unite at Workshop

Last weekend there was a trick training workshop that I really wanted to attend but was not able too due to some schedule conflicts. Many of my trainer friends and colleagues were going and I was feeling a little blue about not being able to join them. Through out the weekend I kept seeing Facebook posts of all the fun that was occurring and most importantly of the camaraderie that was being shared at a workshop where trainers from all backgrounds were working side by side. It was that aspect, the being able to respect one another and share information, that most appealed to me so I asked one of my friends, Michael Burkey from Michigan Dog Training LLC if he would mind writing up a short review to share with the readers here:

KyraSundanceWorkshopAttendees

On August 24th and 25th, 2013 fifty dog trainers from around the country traveled to K9 Ponderosa in Delaware, Ohio to attend a Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI) workshop put on by Kyra Sundance of Lancaster, California. She is an international trick dog performer and instructor, author many times over, movie set dog trainer and owner of the very successful dog training company called “Do More With Your Dog! ®” in addition to many other achievements.
“Do More With Your Dog! ®” is more than a training company though.  Sundance explains,  “… it’s a lifestyle. It is a philosophy which encourages the integration of your dog into your life in a variety of ways—through sport, training, or accompanying you to more places. Dogs have a way of making the activities we share with them more fun, and by giving them training, we allow them to participate in more areas of our life.”
Sundance’s presentation was perfectly structured and polished to a tee. Additionally, she is a very upbeat professional and genuine speaker and instructor. Her enthusiasm and energy is infectious! Behind the scenes was Scottie  MacConachie CPT/CTDI, Lead Instructor/Trainer/Owner at K9 Ponderosa who welcomed everyone to the beautiful 20 acre property where the seminar was held. He and his staff ensured everyone’s needs were accommodated beyond their expectations.

Previously, trainers applying to become a CTDI had to submit a video and written application to Sundance.  She created the CTDI workshop so that applicants could receive training personally from her and she could in turn evaluate their skills personally.
Sundance centered her CTDI workshop around one of her books, “The Dog Tricks and Training Workbook”, a Step-by-Step Interactive Curriculum to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog. In addition to training participants how to teach numerous dog tricks, it covered topics such as: her positive training philosophy, how to be an effective teacher, timing and proper application of cue/action/reward, how to build on behaviors, reward markers, five ways to elicit a behavior, how to motivate through positive reinforcement, ways to build drive, how to set up training goals, the hierarchy of value of rewards, reading dog language and stress indicators, and the use of chaining in the training process.
The trainers who came to learn from Sundance were from various backgrounds, specialities and philosophies. Their common purpose though matched Sundance’s tagline, “Do More With Your Dog”. They also had the same desire, to build positive relationships with their dogs.

In the dog training world, there is often division among individual trainers.
Unfortunately, the dog training community labels themselves and each other as purely positive trainers, positive reinforcement trainers, balanced trainers, remote trainers (or shock trainers depending upon the background of whom you are speaking with), compulsive trainers, etc.  I believe these groups labeling themselves, at first, was well intended to give themselves an identity and to give a description of their methodology to the dog owning public.  Unfortunately, later some trainers used these labels to try to discredit the other groups by labeling them as inhumane or ineffective.

Dog owners are not keenly aware of the above labels because knowing a dog trainer’s label isn’t particularly helpful to them and their dog training problems. What they care about is  – can the hired trainer?:
Solve their dog’s behavior problems or teach them new tricks and
Do it effectively and humanely

And yet, many dog trainers still place emphasis on the label of training they ascribe to while attempting to discredit the other groups.
It is said that there are two camps of trainers, those who use clickers and treats and those who use compulsion based methods. Unfortunately, many trainers who use remote training collars properly (at a low setting that gets the dog’s attention and acts as a remote communication system but doesn’t hurt the dog) are inaccurately lumped into the category of compulsion based trainers. And, some clicker trainers are branded as not being able to train a dog for reliability.
Sundance’s workshop proved there is a third category of trainers, a “United” category; consisting of trainers who use many different training tools to fit the dog, handler and circumstance. They may not all agree on which tool to use but they were respectful of each other’s right to use different tools and were all committed to using positive training methods to teach dog tricks.
I am a positive based professional dog trainer who uses clickers, treats and remote training collars in my training system. This was the first time that I have attended a positive training workshop in which I felt totally welcomed and respected by those who do not use remote training collars.  Many of my remote collar colleagues experienced the same welcoming feeling. And, it feels great to finally be – United; all working for the common good of dogs so they can be more a part of our everyday lives and activities. Sundance says, “trainers should be United in doing the best for our dogs in the best way we know how. This means being United in improving our training systems by listening, teaching, and sharing with each other.”
Kyra Sundance and her CTDI workshop served not only to certify trick dog instructors but also a higher purpose – to unite dog trainers from around the country. This ultimately serves both dogs and their companions so you can Do More With Your Dog. ®
Sundance’s next CTDI Instructor Certification workshop is scheduled for December 7-8, 2013 in Richmond, Virginia.

E-collar helps formerly reactive dog learn to make better choices.

The other day I received a Facebook message regarding remote collar training from a colleague in Ontario. My friend, Karen Laws, from Ontario Dog Trainer, had a post on her wall from a recent client that she wanted to share. I asked her if I could also share here on The Truth About Shock Collars.

 

 

 

The story speaks for itself, proper use of an e-collar can help transform highly reactive dogs into calm, thinking pets that are a joy to live with.

 

I couldn’t have imagined telling this story 4 weeks ago.

It’s 5am and Tara and I are having our usual walk, though now off leash, along the waterfront park near our home. It’s still dark out as the sun has yet to rise. In the distance we can hear the barking of a couple dogs in a thicket ahead, Tara is curious but stays close by my side. As we approach, a red blinking light down on the beach tells me that someone is there with their own dogs and I’m hoping that they have them under control. We pass unnoticed. However, upon our return some 10 minutes later, as Tara and I approach the same beachhead, this time two medium sized dogs come flying out of the thicket barking up a storm as they charge us. Tara quickly steps forward on alert, still off leash, then amazingly looks back at me. I tap the e-collar transmitter and surprisingly with calm say, “Come!” And doesn’t my wonderful girl circle around my back and come to sit at my side!!!!! I hollar at the racing intruders and then hear their owner calling out to them to return. The dogs retreat and Tara and I are left standing on the pathway without incident. This can’t be my dog???

Tara was a rescue last year and came to us with a whole basket of control issues. Not that long ago, she would have launched herself without regard for anything at any excited animal approaching us, or passing by. This time she listened to me and thought better of her choices. I’m very proud of my Tara and very happy with the early results of her training with Karen. Who would have thought?

Steven Mitchell

Congratulations to Steve and Tara. The work you put in learning to use the e-collar as part of your training is paying off!

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”