How long will my dog have to wear an e-collar? (Or Does your dog like to speed?)

Oct 07

How long will my dog have to wear an e-collar? (Or Does your dog like to speed?)

People have lots of questions when they are learning how remote collars can be used to help train their dog. How do you find the right level for the dog? How do you know if the dog is feeling the stimulation? What is the correct fit for the collar?

One of the more frequent questions is: How long will my dog have to wear the e-collar?

It is a good question and my assumption is they are not asking me how many hours a day the dog will wear the collar, but rather when can they expect their dog to respond reliably without the need to use (wear) the remote collar anymore.

The answer takes into account several variables:

How old the dog is when we start the training makes a difference. It is not that an old dog can’t learn new tricks but it is certainly faster to get reliability with a dog who has not had years and years of practice with behaviors that are considered unacceptable.

How much practice time an owner is willing to invest in the training is directly related to how soon the dog will be able to *run naked*. An hour of practice time each week never turned the budding pianist into Ludwig Van Beethoven either. However, I can say that because the variable of distance (being able to gain attention immediately from afar) becomes almost insignificant when training with a remote collar, the journey to reliability is WAY faster than any other method.

Of course the temperament of the dog in question plays a big part as well. Some dogs are just more biddable than others. There are those who you can shake the “no-no” finger at and they lay the ears back in an apologetic “sorry, I ate your shoes mom” gesture. But on the flip side there are the ones who bark back at you as they delightfully prance your underwear to and fro in front of the visiting church ladies luncheon.

Those dogs are a little bit like me and my driving habits. I admit to being a habitual violator of the speed limit. Most of the time I have a good reason, I’m running late to some event of believed importance or maybe I didn’t see the sign about slowing down…but often enough the truth is, well,…I enjoy it. I consider zipping down the road at 80 mph just plain fun!

By the way, I’ve been properly trained on how to drive. My instructors were very competent and here in WI we put in a decent amount of practice time before taking both a written and practical test. I know where both the accelerator and the brake is. I can read and I know what the street signs mean. I understand red, yellow and green lights…..but darn if I don’t seem to need a reminder from time to time to keep me following the rules!

Case in point, my recent speeding ticket. An 85 dollar reminder that I need to be obedient to the white signs that clearly state what the law is. You would think after nearly 30 years legally maneuvering a vehicle I would be “trained”…but I guess I am only human.

And my dog is only a dog. In my mind is a lot better alternative to let him have his off leash fun with his e-collar on. I have an option to use it if I need to remind him to stay with me, even when we see the SQUIRREL!

To me, it is like an insurance policy. It is there and provides safety and security even if I don’t need to tap the button.

So this ticket (or opportune learning event as I am choosing to look at it) has added another analogy to my teaching toolbox. I can never predict EXACTLY when a dog will be reliable without the e-collar, but I can say that it is a good idea to keep it on the dog when presented with circumstances that are highly enticing to the dog.

And since the officer gave me that little tap on the shoulder, I’ve figured out how to use the cruise control on my car! ;-)

zoom, zoom, woof!

speeding ticket for dogs?

Robin's Reminder Tap

Be Sociable, Share!

9 comments

  1. Michael Burkey /

    Robin, you’ve done it again…provided a very teachable analogy that makes sense with lots of humor tucked in. You have quite the skill for making learning fun!

  2. $85.00?!?! Mine cost me $100.00!

    Excellent post, Robin. You explain it beautifully! You have a wonderful way of making a comparison.

  3. Sandra J Misaras /

    Execellent post Robin. I use e-collars for all of my field dogs. I compete in field trials, no collars are allowed, so using the collars to train, and then getting them proofed to the point where you don’t need them is the challenging part. My best dogs for winning field trials were the toughest to get compliant without the collar, and the softest dogs were the easiest.

  4. Robin,
    I thought your essay was excellent. However, I think you failed to mention that e-collars and collar conditioning the dog for casual hunting is fine. I believe Sandra made a comment on how hard it is to “break” the dog off the collar for events.. Being a professional trainer, I believe that if you take the time to teach the dogs the commands and after you know 100% that the dog knows the commands, the e-collar is an excellent training tool to enforce the commands. But, with LOADS of practice without the e-collar and the use of a 200′ check cord (if needed to be that long) the dog will never know an e-collar. I firmly believe that once a dog is first taught with an e-collar it is super difficult to transfer him to being “naked”. They are extremely smart creatures and can get what’s called “collar smart”. The obey only when the collar is around their neck. This is why I train all my dogs without the collar until I know they know the commands and will obey without a collar and use the collar as reinforcement. I truly enjoyed your essay and good luck with your ticket. I sure wish mine was only $85. But, sadly, in Texas, they actually take speeding seriously and give you a $325 fine for 10 over!

    • Bob Campanile /

      Melissa of course this is my humble opinion, so here it goes. The time you waste with a check cord and another method of training can be a waste of time. Why not just start with a remote collar and stick with that. Dogs become collar wise because they are used improperly. It is not difficult at all to transition your dog to work naked. By the same token if you have that issue of breaking the dog off the collar then why don’t you have an issue breaking your dog off of a check cord?? or a choker or pinch collar or treats?? Do you see where I’m going with this? Why is not an issue to break your dog off of all those training aids but it is for a remote collar. I’m not saying you can’t train a dog by any other means, I’ve seen many good dogs trained with a pinch collar. I just don’t agree with the issues you raise regarding the remote collar. Respectfully submitted.

  5. I am a dog trainer who has used ecollars almost exclusively for over eight years. My oldest dog, a golden retriever, hasn’t needed the collar on for over six years, and that’s even with taking him (and my other two dogs) for runs in the woods daily. All three of my dogs will run after and then return immediately from chasing deer (or anything else) on the first command, without my having to press a button.

    My middle dog is a Rottweiler, and although she is 100% responsive without the collar, I won’t take her out off leash without it — and why should I? I look at it as an insurance policy. And with a Rottweiler it’s always nice to have a little extra insurance.

    My newest dog, a mastiff mix, responds very well off leash, but he’s not 100% trustworthy without the collar. Then again, I’ve only worked with him for three months and he is 100% trustworthy with the collar on. And I think that’s pretty good. And I know he does too because, for him, wearing the collar means nearly total freedom. And how many dogs have that?

    I do tell my clients that their dogs will become collar wise. I also tell them that it’s possible to wean them off the collar over time, although I really can’t see why anyone would want to. Why take unnecessary chances?

    Anyway, to me, the formula for getting dogs to obey equally well with or without the collar is:

    1) The dog should wear the collar whenever the owner is with him (except for overnight). The goal is to get the dog to think less and less about the collar over time. That can’t happen if you only put the collar on to train, or to take him for a walk. If you do that he will always be aware of it at some level. But if he wears the collar several hours a day (everyday!), as time goes by he will think about it less and less.

    2) Consistency! The dog must obey every command every time! Dogs are creatures of habit and they will pickup good habits just as well as bad ones. Use the collar to ensure that the dog preforms every single command, every single time, and very soon you won’t be having to use the collar at all to get the same results. When that time comes you should be ready to begin experimenting without the collar.

    3) Leadership. This is of utmost importance. While clicker training and other forms of treat training definitely have a place in dog training, they will never successfully get your dog to do what you want 100% of the time, especially through the heaviest distractions (like chasing squirrels, deer, cats, etc.). To accomplish that it takes more than an ecollar and training, it takes the ability to project oneself as the leader in the dog’s eyes.

    I know these things work because I’ve tried them with my own dogs. I also realize that very few of my clients are going to actually follow enough to get the same results. But then again, when it comes to using an ecollar, why does it matter? If the collar works to get the dog to the level the owner wants, why not just leave it on? It’s certainly better than the alternatives.

  6. Harold Page /

    Robin:

    I have seen you in person, no way you have been driving 30 years. I agree with your training methods and know they work.
    What about the 24/7 contacts for e-collars? Do you use them and what is you opinon of them? When I am actively training for an obedience trial, I put the collar on my dog every moring and do not take it off until late evening after all the training is over for the day. The day of the trial is the first day I work the dog off lead. When not actively training I sporadically use the collar around the house and grounds. When I go out to the woods or park (anywhere off my grounds) the collar is always attached.

    • oh yea, I have been driving that long Harold. (and I have the speeding tickets to prove it!) Yes, I’ve used the 24 hour contact pads. They work very nicely for those dogs who have really short coats and benefit from the ability to not have to tighten the collar quit so much. It can help reduce the friction problem that some short, light coated dogs get with the contact points. They are also helpful for those little dog’s who have tiny diameter necks. The contact pad allows for good contact, where as they may not have been getting consistent contact with the 2 points. They don’t work very well for dogs that have any significant length to their coat/fur.

  7. Such a great analogy on many counts (as usual)!

    The intrinsic drive to do things because I like them soooo much I can’t stop myself… even though there are certain consequences. It’s no big surprise my dog is the same.

    My Weimaraner was collar trained. She practically never wears it at home anymore, while we run together, or even at the K9 Cross Fitness class I teach with other unruly dogs around and does a wonderful job of being a “good” dog in the midst of the fact that she is her sassy little self and still with give me “the look” in the moments she does follow through with whatever I wanted her to do. We have an understanding. She knows there are times when to do what she wants really isn’t worth it.

    However…. we moved to the Big Island where its a bit wild and unrestrained. We have boars and turkeys running around in some interesting places, the mongoose are most fabulous to flush out especially since they show themselves as a tease then run and hide, and let’s talk about the wild goats. Carmella would easily take the consequences of torn up paw pads to run across a lava field (we have those too) for the thrill of thinking she was going to run down the goat. I could have had a check cord on her all of her 6 years of life…. in these scenarios the loving it sooo much would have overridden the check cord training every single time. She’s like me.

    And so…. I have no problem with the fact that she gets to go out and do all of these wonderful things with us because I do have her remote collar training. Really beats sitting at home, nub tail down because she has a difficult time with where the line of fun is. She’ll be this way until the day she passes on. That’s how long will wear a remote collar even if it’s only on just certain occasions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>