Remote Collar Training for Puppies?

Training for Puppies: “Never shock a puppy?”

If you have a new pooch and you’re looking for some help with training for your puppy, you can find a lot of great information out there. You’ll also likely find some strong opinions like; “never shock a puppy”.

Those are some scary words, meant to entice emotion and title to one of the anti e-collar campaigns…and I agree with that sentiment. I would never shock a puppy. I would NEVER advise someone to run out, purchase an electronic collar put it on their 6 month old pup, wait for them to be “bad” and then push the button. That, in all likelihood would cause some adverse fallout including possible superstitious behavior around people, other dogs or even objects.

However, I would use an e-collar as a communication device to guide a pup into behavior that can be rewarded. I would collar condition a pup so they have an understanding of what the stimulation means and how they could control the sensation. Then I would use the tool to encourage behavior I want and discourage behavior I don’t want.

Now you might ask why I or others like me would do such a thing and the answer is “because if you actually know what you are doing with this piece of equipment it is the fairest, fastest, most humane tool you can use to train your dog.” As part of well-rounded training for puppies approach, the remote collar can be a wonderful addition.

I believe remote collar training done well works the way a GPS system works when you are driving your car. You receive information for when you are off course and information of what to do to stay on the right route. No one seems to feel it would be more appropriate to create a GPS unit that ONLY tells you when you make the right turn while ignoring your “off route” moves. If you think about that it is pretty humorous…but I imagine it would also be rather frustrating if you actually want to arrive at your destination on time.

Imagine for a moment that I tell you “hey, lets get in the car and drive to the destination I have in my mind and I’ll only tell you yes when we are on the right route and I’ll give you a dollar every time you make a correct guess in direction” we might have a grand ole’ time for a bit, but I’m thinking we won’t get there any too fast. Now add in the criteria that getting to the destination correctly also means only then do you get to get out of my car, go home and back to your life you might get a tad frustrated about how long the task will take. It seems that when time begins to matter…we prefer more constructive feedback.

That is my perspective on reliable training for puppies or training for any dog for that matter. It is feedback, yes and no are both communicated to the dog. The challenge with educating about e-collars is helping people understand that “no” does not have to be painful or startling. I honestly try to understand the viewpoint that the never shock a puppy advocates are coming from. I really get it that there are some who will use a tool out of frustration and I am keenly aware that there is some lousy equipment on the mass market. Neither of those points are going to be debated by me (in fact they are part of the reason I keep speaking out)….but those points alone don’t convince me that the tool should be banned from the market. If that is the “ban stuff” criteria, than there is a lot of stuff that needs to be banned in the world.

In place of e-collar bans we need massive education and we seriously need the manufacturers to step up and take a lead role in this…the quality e-collar trainers out here are doing the best we can but it is time for some support.

Now this is just speculation, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and question that perhaps what the anti e-collar advocates are really worried about is the fact that some of us can do things so much faster, with so much more reliability with this method of training that it is threatening to their careers. If they can’t compete with these type of results with their preferred tools and methodology then perhaps it makes sense that the easiest solution is to ban the tool that provides an advantage?

As far as making up your mind about if one should Never Shock a Puppy….tell me what you think of this little guy. He’s six months old. He came in because he puppy play bites, chases people, pulls on leash, does some nuisance barking, is scared of other dogs, jumps up a lot, and likes to play “catch me if you can”. This short clip was taken on the second day of his 2 week board and train program. As you are watching, pay really close attention and tell me how many times did I push the button on the remote collar? (cause Yes, I DID push the button, however I never shocked the dog)

Now here’s the disclaimer. If you have not used a remote collar before and you think this looks cool, it is but find HELP if you want to learn to do this with your dog. Training for puppies, or training for dogs, for that matter need not be that difficult. With a bit of time, education and commitment most anyone can achieve a well behaved companion.

What Is the Word on Shock Collar Safety for Dogs?

Shock Collar Safety for Dogs

The question of shock collar safety for dogs is a topic that comes up frequently. Just last month I was in Cleveland, OH working with Bill Wittrock of Obedient Dogs and More.

Our group was composed primarily of professional dog trainers but there was a pet dog owner in the crowd that peaked my interest considerably when he shared a personal story during our opening discussion.

Joe Golob is a surgeon who also happens to own a Newfoundland pup named Barkley.  He had been doing some training with Barkley using an electronic training collar and wanted to learn more.

In the spirit of science and compassion, Dr. Golob decided to do some experimenting to make sure he was doing his dog no harm in using a remote collar to train her.  I asked Joe if he would mind sharing his findings with all of you.

I think his passion for exploration of shock collar safety for dogs and personal discovery of some truths is pretty cool. I hope you enjoy his story as much as I did.

E-Collars and Cardiac Arrhythmias?

As a new person to the world of canine e-collar training, I came across many web pages which described the horrors of the “shock collar”. One myth that I found particularly intriguing was the electricity generated from an e-collar can cause cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) and even asystole (sudden cardiac death). In the spirit of one of my favorite shows on the Discovery Channel, Mythbusters, I decided to put this myth to the test.

I am a surgeon, so one night when on call, I stopped by my surgical intensive care unit and connected myself to a continuous EKG machine. I then placed my Dogtra 1900 NCP on my neck, my leg, and my chest. I used both the nick and continuous button with low, medium, and high levels of stimulation while watching and recording my EKG. As I suspected, no arrhythmias and obviously no asystole since I am still alive to tell my story.

So this myth is clearly ‘BUSTED’. There wasn’t even enough current generated to cause interference with EKG reading. I feel with proper instruction, e-collars are a very safe and humane way to train dogs. I continue to use my Dogtra collar. I love my dog and she loves me! I have no doubt I have the best behaved dog in my neighborhood thanks to my e-collar training!

Joseph F. Golob Jr., MD

MetroHealth Medical Center

Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma Critical Care