Shock Collar for your dog training? Six things that you need to know
I spend a lot of time on this blog sharing success stories from people who have used a remote collar as part of a balanced training program to rehabilitate their dog. I also spend a fair amount of time expressing my opinions on training in general and talking about what to do if you are thinking about purchasing an e-collar to add to your dog’s training tools.
What I try not to do is give you a bunch of absolutes as in Never This or Always That. That is because I believe things are rarely black and white decisions. Most situations have various shades of gray involved that need to be considered.
But I am going to break my own rules today and give you the list of absolutes in regard to shock collars, so here we go:
1. Never purchase a shock collar just because you are frustrated with your dog’s behavior and you want to “show him/her once and for all!”
(instead, do your homework and purchase a remote collar when you are ready to invest the time to teach your dog the alternative good behaviors that you expect)
2. Always start your e-collar conditioning training in an area with limited distractions. This allows you to use the lowest possible setting to get your dog’s attention and to TEACH your dog how to have control over the sensation. AFTER you’ve done some thorough conditioning THEN you can begin to expose your dog to the situations and triggers you’ve been struggling with.
3. Never start your e-collar training off leash. That is setting you and your dog up for failure. A leash or drag line allows you to assist the dog in being successful with the requested task. You should also be incorporating treats, toys, play and praise as part of the training. The “Help” part of the early training is crucial to a positive outcome of having a dog who fully understands what is being asked and will respond enthusiastically.
4. Always be in the right frame of mind when you are working with your dog. If your attitude is frustration, uncertainty or anger, it will travel down the leash. If you are uncertain about how to use the e-collar, GET EDUCATED. You wouldn’t buy all the right tools to work on your car’s engine without having the knowledge to know what you’re doing would you? When you are training you are working on your dog’s mind. Learn how it works and how to teach your dog to respond to your expectations. Then practice what you’ve learned with patience and a good attitude.
5. Never expect your dog to “know” what the stimulation means when you first start training. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done years of previous training or not, the first time you put an e-collar on your dog is still the first time your dog has any experience with it. You have to start at the beginning and TEACH the dog how to respond to it. Having the expectation that “my dog knows” is like expecting someone to be able to read French just because they know Spanish and Mandarin. The is a new tool and a new way of communicating and it needs to be taught like anything else.
6. Always get professional help if possible. And this is especially true if you experience ANY problems in the training process. I realize there is a segment of the population that are “do-it-yourself” types, and even though I have 2 training dvd’s available to help guide people, I still feel strongly that you will get more out of the process if you have an experienced e-collar specialist give you some guidance. An experienced eye will just see some of the nuances that you might miss. Here is a list of some of my friends who can help. For the record, I feel that way about any type of training, regardless of the tool.
There you have my list of Never and Always. I am hoping some of my trainer friends will chime in if I’ve forgotten anything. The main goal is to get us out of the dark ages of Shock Collar use and continue to move us into the age of remote communication with our canine companions.