Remote collar training is really not that scary

Diva and I wanted to wish you a Happy Howl-O-Ween, we didn’t plan a big photo shoot like previous years since she is still in her orthodic for the achilles tendon injury back in March. But we will share a bit of video we shot a couple weeks ago when she finally got the green light to run off leash again. Her doctors at UW. Madison are pleased with her progress from such a serious injury and credit her remarkable good manners and behavior as a major contributor in the healing process.

We still have a way to go before we are cleared to be “nakked” again but at least she can move and run without being attached to a leash. That ability to be safely off leash is one of the major reasons I pursued an interest in remote collar training so many years ago. Being able to provide people with the security of knowing they could let their dog run and still get their attention when needed is enticing. That lure of freedom and security draws many people to learn more about adding an e-collar to the training bag o’ tricks.

Of course there are many other reasons that we’ve covered here over the years, but the main message that this blog intends to spread is to not be afraid to seek information about training your dog with this tool. If it is not for you, no problem, but don’t let others use dread and doom tactics to deter you from simply inquiring about alternative opinions.

Becoming the subject of an inquisition just because you’re talking to someone about a remote training collar is a witch hunt you don’t deserve…so at least here on TASC know you are among ghouls who will do you no harm! 🙂

Here is Diva back to work. A bit sloppy and we’re going to have to do a lot of clean up to precision once this orthodic comes off, but not too bad after 7 months on injured reserve. And certainly no worse for wear after a few years of having remote collar use as part of her learning repertoire.

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 training in Singapore

One of my former students wrote me about his clients experience with remote collar training. Jeffrey Ong owns a company called K9 World. He lives in Singapore, a country that has regulation in place regarding dogs, the training industry and accreditation of dog trainers.
Dogs of certain breeds (Pit Bull, Akita, Neapolitan Mastiff, Tosa and their crosses, and the Bull Mastiff, Bull Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd Dog (and related breeds), Rottweiler and Perro de Presa Canario ) are referred to as Scheduled dogs. They must be licensed and are required to undergo basic obedience training with an AVA (Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore) accredited dog trainer.
As part of the process, owners must fill out a feedback from regarding the obedience training programs that they have gone thru with their respective dog trainers. Each dog trainer needs a minimum of 6 feedback forms per year to be included in the list of AVA accredited dog trainers.
Accredited dog trainers have the freedom to chose the training tools they deem appropriate for the dog & client. The feedback form requests information about the training facilities, training equipment and methods used.

Below is information on one of the client feedback forms that Jeffrey shared with me.

“Regarding the fact that Singapore is a big city I wanted to have a dog who is 101% reliable. Jeffery Ong introduced me to the Ecollar training
The line of communication with my dog is crystal clear after all the training and conditioning. My dog knows what I expect from her and obeys all my commands. I’m also in better control than with the leash because I can react on time which makes my dog extremely reliable and that’s why my dog can walk off leash. The e-collar works for me as an invisible leash-owner and dog react effectively with it. The Ecollar works for me a more reliable tool (of training) than a leash.
Special thanks to Jeffery Ong who put all the effort in our training sessions and the results is an perfectly obedient dog which makes people giving compliments everywhere.”
When Jeffrey attended my course on ways to train and utilize the remote collar, we had many conversations about whether or not the tool would be accepted in his country. He, like many, had concerns about how the tool would reflect on his business. I often hear the phase “well, where I live….” which is followed by a myriad of reasons why dog owners are somehow different in that location. My response is always the same “People are people” We share similar fears and anxieties, have been exposed to the same myths and misconceptions and likewise share commonality in our desires to have a happy and harmonious relationship with our dogs.
Fortunately for us, dogs are dogs. They have no preconceived notions, nor judgement about tools.
Thanks for sharing this feedback Jeffrey, it is always nice to hear that education is helping fear and misconception to fade away…whether in Singapore or anywhere else.

Proper Fit of a Remote Dog Training Collar | Robin MacFarlane

Rule #1: Proper Fit of a Remote Dog Training Collar Is Essential

Proper fit of a remote dog training collar is one of the most over looked reasons for poor results. Viewers write and tell me the e-collar “didn’t seem to work” or it didn’t seem like it was working so they kept turning the level up and then the dog startled. When I’ve had opportunity to witness these problems in person I generally find that the e-collar is just not fitted properly and thus the dog is not feeling the sensation consistently

So I decided to make a little video tutorial to help paint a clear picture of what a well fitted remote dog training collar looks like.

Why is proper fit of a remote dog training collar so important?

Simply put, if the contact points are not touching the dog’s skin the remote collar will not work. Skin contact is what completes the circuit to allow the e-stim to move across the skin surface from one point to the other. (Note: the stimulation only emits from ONE contact point, not both)

Remember that good fit happens through 3 key ingredients.

1. Properly sized contact points.  Length and thickness of the dog’s coat affect how the e-collar will fit. Dog’s with heavy or long coats (German Shepherd Dogs, Malamutes, Akita etc.) need longer points placed on the remote collar. Most manufacturers create collars that have interchangeable contact points. Length of the contact points can range from 1/2 inch to 1 inch, with varying sizes in between. There is also an adaptation called a contact pad that works well for dogs who are sensitive to long days wearing the e-collar particularly those with very short, white coats on the underside of the neck or those dogs whose neck is small in diameter and don’t fit as well in the standard contact point set up.

2. Snug fit.  In general, people tend to keep most collars too loose on their dog. I’ve often seen basic flat buckle collars that slip over the dogs head as soon as the dog backs up or applies a bit of pressure. A loose fit with a remote dog training collar means that there is inconsistent contact which will lead to inconsistent results.

3. A clean and well brushed coat. Dead hair, matted fur, dirt and debris can all build up and create a mess under any collar. It is important to brush and inspect your dog’s coat on a daily basis. Regardless of length of hair, your dog will benefit from a few minutes of grooming attention each day.

If you are having problems start at square one and check to see if it is fitted properly. For more info on training check out my recent interview about using a remote dog training collar.


Bedazzling the way to win for your Shelter!

Update on where we are with the Bling Your E-collar contest.

We have 700.00 in donations that will go to the non-profit shelter or rescue of the winners choice. Thanks to That’s My Dog!, On The Ball K9, K9 Transformations, Michigan Dog Trainer, Dogtra Company and Follow Me Dog Training! Plus the winning dog will get a goodie box from me.

Remember you have until mid-night July 1st to submit a photo of your blinged out e-collar. If you need a little creative juice to get started take a look at the pictures of what’s been done so far on the I love my E-collar Facebook page.

All submissions are being placed in a random drawing. One entry per e-collar photo.  Winner will be revealed on July 4th. All details for the contest are here.


Do it because it is fun, because your dog deserves a little bling and because your local shelter can use the help.

Start hot gluing, duct taping and decorating that e-collar!

Bling Your “Shock Collar” Contest

I know you love your e-collar and I know your dog does too. I know you’ve taken the time to educate yourself on how to use the remote collar properly and the enhanced relationship you now have with your dog is self evident.

We both know the reality of how awesome this tool is when it is applied properly. So I’m thinking it is a good time to stand up and demonstrate that pride!

Announcing: “Bling Your E-collar” Month.

Which means we have to have a contest. Now through the end of June, you post a photo of your dog’s blinged out e-collar on the I Love My E-collar Facebook page, include your dog’s name in the posting (include best way to contact you if you win). My company will keep tabs of all entries and place them in a random drawing. All entries must be in by midnight July 1st, 2013 with winner announced on July 4th. 2013

Not on Facebook? send a photo of the blinged e-collar and your dog’s name to

Now here’s why it’s worth it, The winning dog gets a goodie box of toys, treats and cool dog gear and you get to pick your favorite local non-profit dog shelter or rescue to which I will donate $100.00 and my good friend Summer from On The Ball K9 Training has offered to toss in another $50.00. So that’s a goodie box for your dog and much needed cash for some of our canine friends in need.

The inspiration for this idea goes to another friend and colleague, Renée from Follow Me Dog Training who sent me pictures of her client’s e-collar all dressed up. Renée started working with Caitrin and her dog, Tulip (pictured above) in April of this year. Tulip was having some pretty significant issues, including serious dog fights with the other dog who shared the household.

This is what Caitrin had to say about Renée after going through only 3 private lessons: “You’ve made our life amazing so far and I’d have paid quadruple if I knew this is where it was heading… so we will just keep preaching your name. :)”

and this is what Caitrin wrote about her two dogs who could now get along in peace rather than fight: “A wagging tongue-lolling Dexter just lazily chased a low speed, happy-eared, wiggle-butted, toy-holding Tulip past the porch. Ha Ha. I called for quits and they did and both pranced over to me, shoulder to shoulder for petting.”

Caitrin is proud of all that Tulip has learned and obviously has a positive attitude about the e-collar as one of the training tools that helped accomplish those goals.



So for those of you who love your e-collar it is officially, “BLING YOUR E-COLLAR” Month!


Post the photo of your dog’s blinged out e-collar on the I Love My E-collar Facebook page (include best way to contact you) and you’ll be entered to win cool dog stuff and a donation for your favorite dog charity. Winning photo will be posted here on July 4th, Independence Day!!

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!

Remote Training Collar for Puppy Training.

Remote Training Collar for Puppy Training : How to Use It

In a previous post titled Never Shock a Puppy, I discussed my thoughts on how a remote training collar for puppy training can be used as a feedback system similar to the way a GPS unit provides feedback to a driver trying to stay on course. You can read more here if you missed the original post to learn more tips about remote training collar for puppy training.

I also said I would try to do a follow up on the little guy in the first video, so here it is. This is two weeks after he started his training, from no obedience to working off leash outside with distractions, from fearful of other dogs to playing in a social group, and from no idea of what walking on a leash meant to heeling with attention.

As you can see, he did great, but as I mention time and time again…it is not because of the e-collar itself. A benefit of using a remote training collar for puppy training is that it expedites the learning and reliability when we understand how to use it to provide useful information to the puppy. Puppies learn pretty much the same way as we do, from feedback. What works, what doesn’t. What is rewarding, what isn’t. When you can provide that information clearly, consistently, and in a non-emotional way, a dog can learn very rapidly. The proof is right there in the video that a remote training collar for a puppy is a beneficial training tool.

If you need help finding a competent trainer in your area, check here.

E-collar: E is for e-x-t-e-n-d-a-b-l-e

Occasionally I post video clips of some of the e-collar training we do here at That’s My Dog! Recently I posted footage of our group class when we played a game called Red Light – Green Light.

You remember that game from when you were a kid? One person is the ‘caller’ saying red light or green light to indicate stop or go behavior from the rest of the players. The objective is to run as fast as you can when you hear green light to get to the target (the caller) before you hear red light and have to stop. It is a fast paced, stop and go game.

When we play with the dogs we are teaching them to listen and stop quickly even in the midst of high energy, lots of movement and distraction.

When I posted the video on Youtube I got some interesting responses from opponents of e-collar training. Continue reading “E-collar: E is for e-x-t-e-n-d-a-b-l-e”

My dog just had surgery, Could a shock collar help speed her recovery?

Is it possible that training with an electronic “shock collar” could be a health benefit to the dog?

That sounds like a big question doesn’t it?

Is it a trick question? I suppose that depends on how you look at it. Over here at The Truth About Shock Collars there is always more than one angle!  And as our regular readers know, we don’t really think they are collars that are all that shocking. It is just the revelation of the truth that stuns some people. (yes, that pun was intended!) 🙂

Read the interesting note below to discover Continue reading “My dog just had surgery, Could a shock collar help speed her recovery?”