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. 😉

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

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!

 

Just Right E-collar dog training

A few years ago I created a very basic instructional DVD about e-collar training, Just Right Training.

The goal was to provide viewers with the basics of how to safely and humanly collar condition their dog. I hoped to help people understand how to properly fit the e-collar, figure out what level is appropriate for training and how to avoid creating confusion for the dog.

It was titled Just Right because of my continual reminder to users that there are ONLY three stimulation levels to concern yourself with when training the dog, Too low, Too high and Just right…and the dog makes that determination, not the numbers.

The DVD covers a few basic ideas (recall, loose lead walking, place) and helps resolve some minor, but frustrating behavior problems like jumping up and nuisance barking. The intention was to provide some simple, but solid instructional material to those who wanted to add an electronic dog collar to their training routine but struggled to find a knowledgeable professional in their area who could help.

Stefano is one of those people. We’ve been corresponding about the possibility of starting his dog on an e-collar. He was doing his research before starting (which I applaud!) and had several valid concerns like how to get a great recall without creating a dog who would be worried about leaving his side. After getting the Just Right DVD and a bit of e-mail coaching he got started and I was happy to receive the following message.

wooohooo

great techniques, I began the e-collar training today, my dog picked
it up straight away

I think maybe cause he already knew commands but starting the loose
leash walking it only took like twice changing directions then he was
shadowing me like crazy.

But then I said ‘release’ his free command and he went off straight
away.

So then I just went for a walk and did about 3 recalls broken up over
about 10mins and he did great recalled away from water (which is
massive he is a lab that loves water)

no velcro dog at all except for when I gave the heel command, also I
was working him on 13 and only had to go up to 15 for the water
recall. And he came back tail wagging and everything for his treat,
wooohooo I’m sooo psyched.

I’m now going to train my cousins rottie x staffy with the e-collar,
his untrained mega strong and locked away in a backyard, my cousin
said if I can train him with this he will purchase one and I know it
will work. I know I could train him with other methods but its so
draining because its physically tiring but this is awesome, man I was
shocked how responsive he was on such a low level and I’m still going
to take my time working up and have the leashes attached for at least
2 weeks.

Anyways just wanted to let you know how excited I am and happy with
your dvd as it is an awesome easy way to train.

I’ll send a video in a couple weeks of both dogs my lab was already
highly trained but with selective hearing, but the rottie x is hardly
trained so will be awesome to see how he goes, I’m very patient so it
should be great.

Great job Robin

stefano

e-collar
Stefano and his crew

 

I certainly appreciate his kinds words but what tickles me the most is that he took the time to research and learn rather than:

a) dismiss the possibility of e-collar training entirely because of the negative hearsay he’d heard.

b) purchase an e-collar and slap it on his dog without first learning how to use it.

Two thumbs up for Stefano plus ball tosses and belly rubs for the dog! Thank you for letting me know how your new training skills are going with the addition of the e-collar.

Remote collar dog training is more than just pushing the button

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

 

E-cademy

 

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

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

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

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

remote collar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Learning to read the dog’s body language.

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

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

The words Shock Collar make me cringe

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

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

 

shock collar

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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.

e-collar

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 TASC@thatsmydog.com.

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.

e-collar

 

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!!


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

 

Need help with E-collar Training?

It is starting out another busy dog training week here in the office at That’s My Dog! Inc. We’ve been pretty steady through the entire winter, but as the weather warms up, things get even busier. This week is no different and there has been the added influx of e-mails from people around the country and world seeking assistance with questions about remote collars and how to train with them. As this blog continues to grow I am getting more and more requests for assistance.

So I want to remind everyone to please check our Trainer Referral listing to see if there is someone qualified in your area. And even if they are not right in your immediate vicinity it may be well worth your time to travel to the nearest qualified expert. If you don’t find someone on this list, please check the list of my TMD e-collar training program graduates also.

If there isn’t anyone within a reasonable drive to assist with your training in person, then at minimum purchase the Just Right Training dvd’s to learn more about proper e-collar conditioning before you start working with your dog. If you need further help after starting with the video instructions I am also available via long distance coaching programs and telephone consultations.

Woof! ~ robin