Donald Trump, Shock Collars and learning to curb the yapping.

The upcoming inauguration of President Elect, Donald Trump, has me thinking about many things, including dogs (I’ll get to that in a moment).

For the record, I did not vote for Trump. He doesn’t impress me as possessing the character traits I value in a leader. That said, I’m not one to assert the “Not my president” message. I value our collective history, those who fought to build our country and the rights I often take for granted too much to display disrespect for the process and those who do feel he is the right choice.

Donald Trump was elected and will hold office. History will judge him based on what is or isn’t achieved in the coming years. I will simply continue on. I’ll involve myself in things that matter to me and do what I can in my community to be part of the solutions I’d like to see.

What I have been most frustrated by during this election is societal behavior in general. In the media, on social networks and often, even in personal conversations. The growing trend of making sweeping generalizations accompanied by rigid, emotional judgement.

We live in a time when finding information is easier than ever, yet we seemingly only accept the bits of it that coincide with our own already held conclusions. We prefer to stay comfortably entrenched in our sense of righteous indignation rather than take a deep breath and step into another’s shoes for a tour of what it might be like in their world.

And that brings me to dogs or more accurately “dog people”.

It seems a whole lot of dog people have strong, all or nothing opinions on dogs, on their training and certainly on training tools. I received an email recently that contained one persons view of bark collars and the people that would choose to utilize such a tool.

Here are a few of the key sentences from that exchange:

“This is an absolutely cruel and inhumane device.”

“Anyone who loves dogs would never use this device.”

“Anyone who uses this product is cruel and shouldn’t have a dog in the first place…”

While I agree there may absolutely be situations where those statements hold true, I also know that there are equal or greater number of situations where they bear no resemblance to the truth.

Let’s take a deep breath and examine these sentences that are filled with strong emotion and absolutes.

First off, the word, inhumane. According to one definition, inhumane is defined as; without compassion for misery or suffering; cruel:  The example given for using it in a sentence was; confining wild horses is inhumane.

That sentence certainly stirs some emotion. It sort of makes me want to say; “damn straight! Confining wild horses IS inhumane!!”

But then again, maybe the use of emotion laden adjectives should always be subject to examining context. Would confining wild horses be considered inhumane if they were rounded up and confined temporarily to get them out of range of an encroaching wild fire?

Is it true that anyone who uses a bark collar is cruel and should not have dog in the first place?

Well, yes, I would agree, in the context that said user did nothing with their dog in terms of exercise or training and simply strapped the device on in an attempt to shut up noise that is coming from the dog as a result of boredom, isolation and pent up frustration. In my book of judgement, that person is an asshat. They should find the dog a better home and not get another one unless they can develop awareness of how to meet a dogs physical, mental and emotional needs.

But what about the dog that is well exercised, well cared for, and well trained but has a low threshold for tolerating noise or surrounding activity when away from the influence of their owner?

I’ve used bark collars on e-stim conditioned dogs over the years. Sometimes it was the dog wearing the collar that benefited the most and sometimes it was the dogs adjacent to the barking offender that got more relief.

When you run a boarding kennel or other high volume dog situation, barking is an expected part of the environment. However, if a dog cannot settle even after adequate exercise and being offered toys and chew bones to keep him entertained, the options for establishing a calming environment become limited. Sometimes segregation can work and a dog will settle with a bit more space between himself and the others, but sometimes he won’t. One thing that is certain is that constant, repetitious, non-stop barking is not good for the offender nor the others subjected to the ruckus.

And while the idea that extra staff could be devoted to the care of one special needs dog sounds ideal, it isn’t always possible. Sometimes more practical management solutions have to suffice.

One outcome that has resulted from the proper use of bark collars in my facility is that stress levels are reduced for the dogs and for the humans. That is win/win.

The key of course, is proper use. Let’s assume not everyone using a bark collar is an asshat.

Some words from a former President, George W. Bush seem appropriate to keep in mind when we are deciding on how strongly to define our opinions of others.

“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”

Whether it is political affiliation or dog training ideologies, I think we all benefit if we stop being so judgmental and get back to the idea of stepping into the other persons shoes before making blanket statements.

Although, I will admit, I wouldn’t mind if Donald got a small zing every time he tried to access his Twitter account. 😉

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
remote dog collar
dog training collar
shock collars
Lincoln & Sawyer
remote collar dog training

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.


*Updated 2/1/2016

The quality of Remote dog collar training.

Remote dog collar training is as much of an art as it is a science. And art is usually about quality not quantity.

I know for a fact there aren’t enough quality dog trainers around. That statement is easily represented by the amount of dog problems that are present world-wide. If more people really “got it” in regards to dogs, we just wouldn’t see the issues of aggression, fear, and behavioral instability that we see. “Getting it” means being educated. Educated about dogs in how they think and learn, about breed characteristics, about health issues and about all the tool that can be used to help owners communicate more effectively with them. Professional dog trainers should have that rounded education and their job is to then go out and spread the word. If we as pro’s tip too far to the all positive or too far to the all compulsion side of the scale…well, we’re not doing anyone any favors, particularly the dogs.

My niche part of the education package is teaching a course on remote collars and their various applications. My focus is heavily tipped toward e-collars, but what I expect of those I teach is that they understand the value of all tools and techniques. I expect they have a base knowledge of dogs that respects these wonderful animals for what they are, not what we dreamily anthropomorphize them to be. I expect they have a load of patience, they understand the need to teach before holding accountable. I expect they can read basic body language that communicates, too much stress vs not enough expectation. Plus they need enough working knowledge to recognize when underlying health issues may be suspect in behavioral problems so they refer to DVM’s for assistance. Top all of that with an ego that remains humble enough they understand that learning is never finished. Those are the people I like to work with.

With that said, I’m happy to congratulate the most recent group of students who completed our 10 day E-cademy Trainers course. These folks are listed on the That’s My Dog! Graduates Page and our Trainer Referral here. There are now a few more dog trainers circulating that you can count on to provide remote dog collar training humanely and respectfully as part of their training programs.

remote dog collar training


I Love My E-collar and So Does My Dog!

I recently posted a request for cover photos on our I Love My e-collar and so Does My Dog! Facebook page. Whenever we post these requests there is a good response and often stories accompany the photos.
Such is the case with Oliver and his owner Kimberley. I appreciate being able to share these stories because I think it is so critical that dog owners understand there are options for tools and methods for training dogs. That concept really needs to be driven home in regards to dogs that need special behavioral assistance finding a forever home.
Kimberly is right on when she speaks of rescues not being able to take dogs that have issues. It is a common problem because they generally are not equipped to deal with behavioral problems. However, it is an issue I feel would be less problematic…

IF more rescues and shelters knew of the possibilities that e-collar training can provide.

Stories and myths seem to abound about e-collars causing behavioral problems. Many rescues and shelters have a policy eschewing anything other than a flat buckle collar and a bag of treats as the behavioral remedy that fits all. The reality is, e-collar training solves far more behavior problems than it causes. There are rescue organizations who know that truth and some who will work with e-training…but public perception keeps them silent about it and believing they need to “keep it quiet”. For those folks I say “we need you to speak up on behalf of the dogs, come on out of the closet!”

I firmly believe if more people understood the proper techniques for e-collar conditioning and how to use the tool as an informational training system…there would be fewer dog IN rescue and shelters to begin with.

So thank you to Kimberley for sharing Ollie’s story and offering some inspiration to others in similar situations:

“This is our newest addition, Ollie (Oliver).  He’s the fourth in our pack and the 3rd dog to be trained using an e-collar.  

We saw Ollie’s picture and story circulating on FB.  His owner was moving and couldn’t take him with her and because of some serious issues that he displayed she was having trouble rehoming him. Most local rescues only take in dog friendly, child friendly dogs,…and Ollie was neither of those things.  If nobody took him in, he was going to be euthanized the next weekend.  Fast forward….(two months later) thanks to his e-collar training he’s now a happy and social dog that loves going to the park and meeting new canine friends to play with.   We can’t imagine not having him in our lives and he impresses everyone that he meets. They find it hard to believe that he was once labelled aggressive.  He went to his first group class this weekend and impressed everyone.  He even stayed after class to play with two boxers he met in class that day.  We’re so proud of his progress,…he’s come a long way.”
This is a photo of Ollie practicing “place” in our local offleash dog park.
Halifax, N.S.
* If you have a story about e-collar training you’d like to share, please send the dog’s photo and story to

Remote Collar Dog Training workshop in Texas

If you are interested in learning more about remote collar dog training come join us for a two day workshop. Robin MacFarlane will be coming to Texas in May 2013.

The workshop is being hosted by On The Ball K9 Training in Denton, Texas so please contact for all the details. Get signed up soon if you want a working spot. Bring your dog, their favorite toy and treats, your e-collar, a lawn chair and an attitude ready to have some fun learning new things with your dog!

We are expecting a nice turn out of both dog owners and other professional dog trainers so it should make for an excellent and information filled weekend.

Unlike many training workshops…we do not pre screen dogs so you can feel free to attend whether you have a shy dog, a wild and crazy young one or one you feel a little lost in dealing with some behavior issues. We’ll do our best to help you and make sure you go away knowing more about your dog and how to use an e-collar successfully to enhance your relationship even further.

For more info or to register: or 940-765-3597

Hope to see you in Texas!

Island Dogs

Since I recently wrote a piece about my vacation adventures and how it pertains to my dog training philosophies I thought it appropriate to also share some of the dog photos I took while there. I’ve been blessed to visit several countries and get a feel of the dog culture and I was not disappointed in what I experienced in St. Lucia

From what I saw there were a significant number of dogs who had “families”. Although not all were collared, leashed and “on property” as we are accustom to seeing here in the U.S. most of those I witnessed were visibly “with” their humans. They were at the beach or walking behind or lounging in the road but always near their master. I’ve visited other countries that had a far higher volume of strays and very ill looking dogs than I saw in St. Lucia, so this was a pleasant reality to discover. I also saw a fairly large veterinary hospital along our route on one of the excursions.

I observed the little guy in this next picture for about 30 minutes as his owner played his Sunday soccer game with friends.

dog shock collar

He and another small tan terrier of some sort were both tethered just below the veranda of my room. He would carry on with a significant ruckus each time the game got close to him. My take on his behavior was, it was excitement barking and wanting in on the action rather than territorial stuff. The bark had that certain “let me in” pitch.  After 20 minutes of it though, dad came over (which is when I caught the best glimpse and photo) and with a quick clap of the hands and a vocal equivalent to what I figure was “knock it off” he was quiet for much of the remainder of the game.

A bit later I saw him running off leash along with his cohorts playing in the waves. Seemed pretty happy and content.

This next guy was sunning himself in the middle of the road in front of the farmer’s house were we stopped on our tour to sample all of the various island fruits.

island dog
He never bothered to move or investigate as 10 of us drifted around “his place”.



You could say he and two others a bit farther up the road could not have been less impressed with the visitors on their turf. Never got up, didn’t bark, not so much as a nod in our direction. It is the same reaction I’ve seen in many other countries where dogs are part of the culture but not given the same social status as here in the states. Dogs coexisting, no chaotic jumping, barking behavior with each visitor, no permanent existence in the juvenile state of development…

It certainly makes you contemplate our “intervention” as the root cause of most of the problems we see here at home. I am certain our often skewed perception that dogs are furry kids is the main problem…but I’m not going to wax on about it too much because I can guarantee someone will take my words out of context and tell me how cruel I am to not think these dogs are suffering a horrid fate by not being house pets…plus the reality is, that perception is pretty much what allows me to put bread on my table through profession training… and for this career I am truly grateful.


How Do I Use a Shock Collar? The Difference Between Momentary and Continuous Stimulation.

My How Do I Use a Shock Collar DVD Frequently Leads to One Question…When Should I Use the Continuous Button?

Since the technique in the how to video focuses on a tap, tap, tapping cadence using the momentary button, first time e-collar users often have concerns that it might be “wrong” to use the continuous button or they wonder when it is appropriate. I’ve spoken to numerous professional trainers who tell me they prefer using the continuous button for the majority of their training needs. So I have to confess…so do I. But using the continuous button for teaching and training takes a tad more finesses and that is something that comes through practice and experience……which is why in an introductory dvd made for average pet owners I emphasized learning the technique via momentary stimulation. Momentary stimulation provides the dog a predetermined duration (therefore concise) of information.

Creating awareness of when to tap and when to stop tapping in conjunction with the dogs behavior and response is one of the three key concepts that must be learned in order to effectively shape and train behavior with a remote collar. Utilizing momentary stimulation with a beginning e-collar user means that each button push will provide only a 1/25th of a second pulse. So it is a very quick tap to gain attention whether the user removes their finger from the button or not. The stimulation stops with that one tap until the button is depressed again.

The continuous button, on the other hand, continues to pulse until the user removes his/her finger from the button (with a maximum of 8-12 seconds duration before an auto shut off depending on brand of remote collar) However one can use the C feature similarly to the momentary (with a tapping cadence rather than a push and hold) which provides a great deal of versatility in training.  Because our human timing is probably not as consistent in the early learning phase, sometimes tapping faster and sometimes tapping perhaps a bit drawn out, I feel it is easier for the dog’s learning if novice users start out on a button of predetermined duration. With less worry about our duration on the button I want people to focus on the most important concept of e-collar training; helping the dog understand what the sensation means.

So in answer to;

Is it wrong to use the Continuous button instead? No, just pay attention to your timing on the button. A tap vs a drag on the e-collar continuous button will feel differently to the dog.

Is there an advantage to using the Continuous button? Sometimes. Because the continuous button will give multiple pulses with each tap, it may be more attention getting for some dogs. It can serve well as a technique to tap continuous when nick isn’t gaining attention (rather than turning up the intensity dial).

Is there a good reason to drag on the Continuous button? Yes, sometimes it is the perfect way to draw a dog’s attention back when he/she is heavily focused on something else. For instance a dog who is heavily engaged in a scent can usually be brought back to focus with a drag of the continuous button. A 1 – 3 second drag seems to be the right timing to reconnect with the dog and pull his mind off of the odor. There are some advanced applications for working on precision and finesse as well, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.

Note that because the Continuous automatically gives multiple pulses with each tap, you may find that the stimulation level needed is lower than when you are working on the Nick setting.

If you have a remote collar that allows you to utilize Nick and Continuous stimulation without having to flip a toggle switch, you can become very adept at keeping a finger hoovered over both buttons and fluidly moving between the two options depending on your training goal at the moment.

Let me know if there are more questions. I love hearing from you!

Meanwhile, while you are researching how do I use a shock collar,  take a look at this short video for a bit more understanding of the differences between the momentary and continuous stimulation buttons on your e-collar.

Just pull the throttle and go…..

thought I’d share a photo from my recent vacation.

My partner and I were trying to decide on what excursions to take while visiting St. Lucia. While I gravitated toward the hiking, horse-riding and sail boat options, he was more interested in the high paced activities, like ATV’s, Dune Buggies & Jeep excursions.

Figuring vacation was no place for a debate, I opted to let him pick. ATV’s would have been pretty low on my list since my comfort zone is anything water or “earthy”…..but we ended up helmeted and bouncing through the mangrove. Up and down rocky terrain and then opening them up on a nice stretch of secluded beach on the north side of the island. The way back brought some good mud holes to burn through and a few hair pin turns. We had the local cuisine and ate food I would of considered “bleck!” before having them prepared St. Lucian style.

Previous to the start of the day I had no idea how to drive an ATV, felt a little intimidated when I was told, “pull the throttle and go” and certainly wouldn’t have lifted the fork to my mouth if I had over thought the ingredients.

I ended up having a blast and pondering how the experience related to dog training on the ride back to the resort. (yes, I do pretty much eat, sleep and drink dogs…even on vacation)

The tie in between the ATV excursion and dogs that I came to, was this: new discovery and new growth is ALWAYS about stepping a bit further outside our comfort zones.

Training your dog isn’t just about the tools that you choose, it also about the experiences you create during your time together. Too often we get stuck staying in our personal comfort zones. In regards to training that very well might mean limiting our dogs experiences and therefore their potential.

This is something I believe is being lost in the “art” of dog training in favor of making sure everyone understands precisely the “science” of dog training.

There is so much fear of taking the slightest risk and pushing a dog to do and try new things that we are surrounded by emotionally and psychologically crippled dogs. Dogs incapable of behaving comfortably and confidently outside of their tightly managed environment.

I think back through my years in this profession and recall the numerous stories of clients whose goals included:
“being able to have company without the dog submissively wetting each time someone reaches to pet them.”
being able to “walk through the pet store with the dog on leash without it freaking out at every person or dog in the store.”
having a dog who can “jump in the car or go down the stairs without coaxing or carrying”

or having a dog who doesn’t fall apart just because some less socially skilled dog comes running up, barking.

Unfortunately some become so consumed with the micro management of “what” to do: “when to click, when to reward, when to not get closer to a threshold”, “what does the exact moment of body language say”… that they miss the big picture. Perhaps they have forgotten their own childhood experiences and how they grew up to handle things they now take for granted. Like when their parents gave them a push on the bike and fear of going two wheeled was over, or when someone held their hand and jumped off the diving board and suddenly it wasn’t so scary anymore. Sometimes the best plan is just to carry on as if it really is no big deal.

This is the art part of dog training. The part where you know that taking a step (sometimes even a big one) into new territory will be a moment of fear followed by a lifetime of increased confidence that came through trying something new.

This same concept is what lead us to create a new event at That’s My Dog! called Open Gym. It is an opportunity to just try new stuff with the dog. With a variety of equipment that tests a dogs stability and teaches new proprioceptive awareness we’re helping dogs gain confidence and step into new comfort zones. We do a very similar thing with our group socialization and putting dogs into situations that are a little uncomfortable at first but they gain experience and thus confidence through the participation.

So I’d like to challenge you today to take a small step for you and one for your dog. Go a bit outside the comfort zone and Expand. Try something new. Just because there is hesitation or it’s a bit unfamiliar doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be explored. In fact, it is probably all the more reason to check it out. If you need a tour guide, try finding one here.

Happy New Year!

Time to toss the old calendar and get ready to ring in a whole new year. The earth kept rotating and somehow we’ve made it through 2012 despite the predictions of impending doom.

Here at The Truth About Shock Collars we’ve continued on as well and it has been a good year. Let’s peak back at a few of the highlights: Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

Happy Holidays from all of us at That’s My Dog! and The Truth About Shock Collars

To our dog loving friends across the globe;

Our wish for you is to enjoy a long and happy life with your dog.

Our wish for your four-legged companion is to know the joy of running with abandon (while still returning safely when called). 🙂

To all of our working dogs handlers and partners, thank you and stay safe.

As we approach the end of another year, keep training and always challenge yourself to learn more.

My gratitude to those who have taken the time to send stories, photos, comments, questions and feedback. It is greatly appreciated. Please continue to share!