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.
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”