Understand E-Collar Training
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Thread: Understand E-Collar Training

  1. #1
    shamrox is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultUnderstand E-Collar Training


    Now I know that I am going to get blasted for this but I have to put my comments in.

    First let me say that e-collar training is just another tool in your bag and if done incorrectly an e-collar can harm your dog. I also believe that any training that if is not done correctly could harm your dog (physically and emotionally). I always believe if you are going to invest in your dog with training why not invest in your dog with a proper dog trainer. If I told you that you can spend $30 a year and it will keep your dog from running in the street and getting hit by a car....would you say that is a good value? I would hope that you would say yes. We need to understand we are doing this for the love and life of our babies.

    Second, when I started looking into training I found pretty much 2 lines of training, positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is praise or treat for good behavior. For example, if your dog sits when you say sit you give them a treat. Now Negative reinforcement would be a choker collar and get a correction for not doing the behavior you want. For example, I tell my dog to sit and if she doesn't I give a tug on the leash and say sit. Now that is followed by positive when they do it right you give them praise.

    I know I am generalizing, but follow me here. Given those 2 types of training most people put e-collars with the negative reinforcement. Now I am sure that some people and trainers use it that way, but I have never been taught that. For example, most people think that an e-collar is used like a choker collar but with a shock....I say sit and if they don't sit I shock them and say sit and when they do it the get a good girl.

    Let me ask you a question. Does your child do everything you tell them to? Most children will listen to there parent if they are within arms reach of the child, but as soon as the child knows that Mom/Dad is to far or can't see them they might act up again. What if I told you I can give you the ability to tap your child on the shoulder from 100 yards away. The child might actually listen that time.

    Now with dogs it is a matter of getting there attention (either by food, or tug). Think of the e-collar as a prompt or a tap on the shoulder. What I can tell you is that my girls are on the lowest level. How do I know? I have put the collar in my hand and tapped it and didn't really feel a thing. On a scale from 1-10, my girls are both on 2....yes I said 2. Most people would be able to even feel it, so do you think it hurts my dogs? Petals and Marble are working great with them and it has only been 3 weeks.

    Now I am sure that people are going to read this and tell me that I am doing the wrong thing and that I am killing my dog, but I have used treat, choke collars and everything in between. For me the results speak for themselves!!! I guess what I am saying is I want people to do there homework when it comes to training there puppies and what is good for me is not necessarily good them.....and vice versa. I read all the time on this board about people not excepting e-collars and there use. I just wanted to put my 2 cents in from someone that was on both sides of the fence as early as 6 weeks ago.

    If you have any question please let me know and I would love to answer them. Please don't call me a idiot or someone that doesn't know what I am talking about. I don't know as much as some but I do know more then others. I don't want to get into a shouting match, but I do want to start a thread for those of us who find e-collars helpful.

    Thanks for your time,
    Sean

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  3. #2
    shamrox is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training


    I was never commenting on you. The way I learned was I wasn't "zapping" her in a bad way. The way I was trained is more of a tap on the shoulder to reminder her that I am right there and I can see her.

  4. #3
    stlabs is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training

    I just want to add that you have to make sure that the dog is clear on the command first BEFORE using an e-collar. Personally, I think it has some value for long-distance hunt-training, but not for the basics like sit, heel, etc., but that's just MHO. Regardless though, you should not use the e-collar or a prong collar as a correction before the dog understands that command = whatever action. For example, with the sit command (which incidentally I don't think it should be used for), you wouldn't introduce the sit command and say sit a few times and then start using the e-collar. That dog has to have a firm understanding of the sit command and be ignoring you to use the e-collar. It should be something that you worked on without the e-collar every day for a few weeks or so before getting the e-collar out. You don't use an e-collar properly to teach a command in the first place.

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  6. #4
    Canyon Labradors's Avatar
    Canyon Labradors is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training

    When we started incorporating the e-collar into our training, our trainer had us begin from the beginning. We conditioned on sit, stay, here, come...because those are the 4 commands the dogs knew well from normal training.

    So for all of our dogs, it was used after we completed several rounds of obedience training and it was used for distance and reinforcing commands when we could not be close enough to correct, or were teaching off leash, and want a quick correction for lagging, being too wide etc.

    With the help of a trainer who has alot of experience, the tool can be used to train initially too. I found that some of the upper level commands I taught Maddy for competetive obedience were learned very fast and very permanently with the guidance of my trainer and the e collar.

  7. #5
    riarcher is offline Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training

    Stlabs-
    "but not for the basics like sit, heel, etc., but that's just MHO. "

    BRAVO! ;D That's the way I feel exactly.

    To get some thinking started, let me tell how it was explained to me by someone I consider a very good dog person.

    When I was anti-zap, the guy asked if I had any idea why it was placed on the front of the dog's neck in the first place? (I had some thoughts, but was wrong)
    Anyways, if it was put on the butt, the dog would move forward or spin in circles, and that would serve no useful purpose.
    If placed on the back, the dog would most likely go down (belly-jump up)
    But, on the front of the neck the dog would naturally turn and go the other way. (Hmmm, simple, I could understand that)
    Dog runs off, zap, dog turns, and heads back. Seeing you, considers command and is more likely to obey.

    Of course that is a very fundamental concept that most all e-collar training seems to be based on. Working with this concept I see how it would be more punishment than reinforcement(?) for sit, lay, up, etc. and since we would be within reach I honestly see no worthwhile purpose of a zapper's use for me personally (for others? to each their own).
    However, in the garbage, running off, reaching on counters, chasing cars / bikes, jumping up, etc. It's easy to understand why it would make the dog stop and move away (and hopefully understand that your original command was a warning to be worthy of listening to the next time (IE; positive motivational reinforcement).

    They are a valued tool, an aid. They are not instant trainers. They are not designed to be used as a short cut or to replace traditional methods. They are aids for reinforcement only.

    I feel it's very sad that e-collars are plagued with old wives tales spread by the unknowing. A lot of people are missing out on a very safe, efficient and effective training tool.

    Side note, I've noticed that some of the less expensive ones have too long a time delay to be effective in a timely way. If one is selected it needs to be checked out for speed, intensity, duration, and water proofing. Along with range, life expectancy of charge and additional attributes.

    Great post, but I suspect we'll be roasted sooner or later.

    For interesting investigating;
    http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/dog/obed.htm#elec

  8. #6
    Dani's Avatar
    Dani is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training

    Quote Originally Posted by stlabs
    I just want to add that you have to make sure that the dog is clear on the command first BEFORE using an e-collar. Personally, I think it has some value for long-distance hunt-training, but not for the basics like sit, heel, etc., but that's just MHO. Regardless though, you should not use the e-collar or a prong collar as a correction before the dog understands that command = whatever action. For example, with the sit command (which incidentally I don't think it should be used for), you wouldn't introduce the sit command and say sit a few times and then start using the e-collar. That dog has to have a firm understanding of the sit command and be ignoring you to use the e-collar. It should be something that you worked on without the e-collar every day for a few weeks or so before getting the e-collar out. You don't use an e-collar properly to teach a command in the first place.
    I couldn't agree with this more. This is exactly how ecollars should be used. And as I said in the other threads....often times people are too lazy or too impatient to work with a dog to get them to understand commands before resorting to an ecollar.

    I am not against the ecollar...I just don't think they should be the first tool in the bag to be used.
    Dani, Rider & Rookie
    SHR Watson's Safari Rider, JH, WC, CL1-R, RA, CGC, TDI
    SHR Endeavor Put Me In Coach, RN, WC, CGC

    Member Since 6/2003

  9. #7
    rottnlabs is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training

    I'm going to have to disagree w/stlabs and Dani. First, I certainly don't consider myself a "lazy" trainer and resent that being insinuated. I work my dogs every day. We work very hard for our accomplishments. I train as much or more than my friends that use more traditional training methods (they use excuses like they are too busy or too tired to train today while I'm out training whether it's raining or 100 degree temps) and I think our results speak for themselves. If I were lazy, we sure as hell wouldn't have those accomplishments. My dogs are always learning something new and yes, I use the ecollar to teach them new things so it irritates me to no end when people insist that you can't teach new commands using an ecollar or that an ecollar is the last tool in a trainer's bag of tricks. It demonstrates a true lack of knowledge on the part of the speaker. Please educate yourself about ecollars before speaking about them. I know ecollars are controversial and probably always will be. I really don't care if people don't want to use them for whatever reason (to each his own) but I do care when people publish inaccurate info about them.
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  10. #8
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training

    I don't think there's anything that can be taught with an e-collar that can't be taught using positive reinforcement with the proper techniques and timing.

    I have two main objections to people using e-collars.

    One is when they use the e-stim as punishment. It's not that punishment canNOT be used in training -- it's just that it's extremely capricious, generates emotional reactions, and for those reasons, is not used by most animal trainers.

    Second is that many of the people using e-collars don't know enough about learning principles to know how to train properly without an e-collar.

    I don't think people need a PhD in learning theory before using an e-collar but they should know the basic principles such those as in Jean Donaldson's "Culture Clash" (or other similar good book on training) and they should know how to collar condition a dog appropriately before starting to use it.

    That said, I do use an e-collar on Puff when we go out for an hour off leash walk each morning in a nature preserve. That's because we occasionally suddenly meet skunks, park dept trucks that are moving, other people, other dogs. We used a 50 ft. long line/check cord our first couple years but it was too often out of reach when needed.

    So I bought a Dogtra 200NCP Gold which has infinitely variable levels of e-stim (Nick or 5") as well as a vibrating buzz (Pager). [The level of e-stim I use is below my ability to feel it in my finger tips.] I find that 99.99% of the time, the Pager/buzz is sufficient and we go many mornings when I don't use even that and possibly a month or more until using the Nick once or twice.

    This morning, for instance, Puff and I suddenly met a man with a leashed JRT type dog on a narrow trail. Puff wanted to go play with the dog but I told her to sit, which she reluctantly did, while I snapped the leash hook to her collar. We squeezed ourselves to the side of the trail to allow the man & dog to pass by. As he did, he thanked me saying his dog is aggressive and thinks all other dogs are going to attack her so she pre-empts. If Puff had not been so obedient, I was prepared to give her a quick Page/buzz followed, if needed, by a Nick/e-stim. But she obeyed -- "GOOD girl!" ;D

    "To a man whose main tool is a hammer, the whole world can look like a nail"
    -- Bob Pr.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

  11. #9
    gerst001 is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training

    E-collars are a FANTASTIC tool when used the correct way and they are much safer (when used correctly) then choke or pinch collars IMO. You just need to be very careful you don't use it wrong, you get training on them by a professional and you don't accidently jack up the dial.

    I use it as a tap on the shoulder as well, a reminder in a way. I used treats and balls along with the collar, but he does get tapped on every single command I give, but he does get rewarded as well. He is no way possible associates it to be a bad thing. He prefers it on his neck that off - they need to be trained the right way, even to wear it. I try to never say the command without the tap. I leave no room for them to second guess.

    Sit and the tap come at the same time - then BAM - reward and he is the happeist pup in the world!!!! I also use the lightest possible setting, but you have to gauge and understand your dog to see it.

    If you want more information on whom I used to train my dog - check out... sitmeanssit.com

    Truley Amazing dog trainers!!!!

  12. #10
    stlabs is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Understand E-Collar Training

    To each his own I guess but I disagree with you 100% that an e-collar should be used to teach a command to begin with. What you choose to use to train your dog is up to you, so if you like it and it works for you then it's up to you. However, I can guarantee you that Dani and I are not novices by any stretch of the imagination and I have researched e-collar and prong collar use extensively and I bet Dani has too. Disagreeing with you about proper e-collar use does not equate to a lack of knowledge in this instance and I personally find that comment a little insulting. I have have fostered and trained over 35 foster dogs and my own two dogs (both of whom have AKC Canine Good Citizen certificates). I can also tell you that I've trained dogs using both positive and negative reinforcement and have seen dramatically better results with positive reinforcement than with negative reinforcement. It's also so much more fun to teach with positive reinforcement because labs in particular try so hard to please and are so food motivated. If you've never tried positive reinforcement, I would encourage you to at least try it and see what kind of results you get - you might be surprised - I know I was at first.

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