The Truth About E-Collar Training for Dogs
The The Dog Squad uses a variety of training tools to train dogs. They are not against any tool that helps a dog learn in a positive and humane way.
I sometimes use a combination of training aids and yes I do use treats when called for. I work with a variety of dogs, breeds and ages running the gamut from normal puppy and dog obedience to severe aggression and other behavior problems that are life threatening to the dog.
Because I am not afraid to use an e-collar for dog training when it is appropriate I get labeled by naysayers as a “Shock Collar” trainer. The people who use this label want it to sound bad by using the emotionally charged term “Shock” when in reality I never shock dogs in my training method using low level electrical stimulation. Also, I only use the e-collar when it is the right approach. I use treats when it is the right approach and I use other types of training collars when it is the right approach. It is not the tool but my understanding of canine behavior and how to communicate with a particular dog and how to solve a particular problem that is important. It is also as important to use a tool that the owners can use and duplicate the results that we get with the dog. If the owner can’t use a pinch collar then regardless of how the dog responds to us it may not work for the owner and their dog.
Recently there have been a rash of articles bashing the use of e-collar training for dogs in local and in some national dog publications. As a professional dog trainer I feel the need to stand up to these false and misleading articles that present hearsay stories, urban legends and misleading pseudo science to espouse their philosophical beliefs about “All Positive” dog training. Some of these trainers denigrate other trainers who use any method other than the “All Positive” approach portraying them as “in-humane”, “uncaring” and go as far as calling us “dog abusers.”
Renowned author Steven R. Lindsay who has written the most coherent and comprehensive body of scientific knowledge about dog behavior and training, in his “Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Volume Three. In chapter Nine, “Behavioral Monitoring and Electronic Control of Behavior”, he debunks many of the so called scientific articles and arguments against the e-collar and writes the following in his concluding remarks:
“When properly understood and employed, ES (Electrical Stimulation) can be effectively used to modify dog behavior without eliciting significant stress or fear. Given the potential benefits of LLES (Light Level Electrical Stimulation) for dog behavior control and the relatively harmless and innocuous nature of LLES, it is nothing short of appalling that so many respected authorities, who otherwise show evidence of intellectual integrity and scientific restraint, have chosen to condemn electronic devices, based on personal prejudice and the hearsay opinions of others. Some outspoken critics appear to lose all perspective and semblance of reasonableness when it comes to electrical training aids, accepting and perpetuating patently emotional and misleading arguments as matters of fact. Individuals who otherwise may strive to shape their opinions and attitudes in concordance with verifiable empirical evidence betray their lax commitment to scientific method when they pronounce sweeping and unsubstantiated generalizations denouncing electronic training aids as inhumane tools that are used to abuse dogs.”
I know from experience, having worked with over 2000 dogs, that using the e-collar can greatly improve the reliability of a dog’s training. Other trainers from across the country report similar results.
Robin MacFarlane from That’s My Dog in Wisconsin has trained hundreds of trainers in the use of electronic collars and many more dogs than I. She and the trainers she has trained are showing similar positive results. She has published a web site called “The Truth About Shock Collars” that is collecting information from around the USA and the world to help debunk the myths and misinformation from the naysayers and sceptics. www.thetruthaboutshockcollars.com
Here is an excerpt from the web site posted on September 9, 2010 by Robin.
“Testimonials from dog lovers from all over the world keep pouring in and here at “The Truth About Shock Collars”. We are going to keep posting them. I am an advocate for dog training, regardless of training methodology, the important thing is to bond with your dog, spend time teaching them what you want them to do and stay the course with consistently enforcing those expectations.
Whether you do the training with treats, clickers, head halters, flat buckle, slip collar, prong collar or a combination of tools it doesn’t matter to me as long as you get educated to use the training tools properly and humanely. What I do get darn tired of is the electronic remote training collar being lambasted as the tool of the devil. I get tired of the rhetoric of cruelty and pain as the means of how this *shock collar* works. That notion just plain isn’t true.
Here is another example of a happy person with a well adjusted dog that has been helped by learning how to train with a remote collar. Kudo’s to Polly, Judith and the team at the Dog Squad for helping another dog achieve off leash freedom and a better life:
“Polly is a nine month old sweet shepherd-terrier mix with lots of energy and a mind of her own. I had some success training her to sit, come, and not jump on people, but her responses were uneven to say the least. We both enjoy hiking on the off-leash trails in Redwood Park, but I could not rely on her to come when it was time to break off playing with another dog or upon meeting a horse. The former was inconvenient, the latter dangerous. So I called the Dog Squad. Steve Bettcher came to my home to meet Polly, make an evaluation, and explain the training program, which included three home sessions and unlimited classes as long as Polly lives.
At our first training session he explained the use of the electronic collar and began working with Polly. By the end of the session she was reliably responding to come and no longer pulling on her leash. By the end of the second session she was heeling, sitting, and lying down. The third session was a review and reinforcement of everything she had learned. After the first session I took her out on the trail. She came every time I called, even if she was playing with another dog. She came and sat beside me when we encountered horses. When we walk in downtown Walnut Creek she heels and sits before we cross a street. If she jumps up on someone she immediately obeys my command of OFF. She is now a beautifully mannered, sweet shepherd terrier mix with lots of energy and a mind of her own”.
Judith Tucker – Walnut Creek, CA
Watch for more to come on this subject.