Does a “remote trainer” or e-collar have any place in a dog trainers toolbox?
“While it is possible to train dogs to mark and handle at a distance without the e-collar, why would you? An electronic training collar is a wonderful tool. Modern e-collars are safe, reliable, and effective. With them, you can make corrections that are suited to the dog, at the proper time, for maximum training efficiency. However, corrections to stop or suppress behavior are only a small part of what you can do with the e-collar. More importantly, the e-collar is a powerful tool for encouraging or “forcing” behavior. To realize the benefits of the e-collar in the field, you must “collar condition” the dog,” states Pat Nolan.
- – a means of communication
- – a changer of behavior
- – a focusing tool
- – a detractor from incorrect behavior and focus
- – an aversive
- – a motivator
- – a means of correction
Assist in training
With the help of a certified dog trainer, the collar can be applied to assist your training and behavior modification in several ways. Some are similar and certainly can overlap, one application of the collar merging into another.
You can use the collar within your teaching process. The dog learns that when it is doing a command that is being taught, it can turn the stimulation off. Usually, continuous is the operating mode for this. You can reinforce the Sit, Down, Here, Stay commands, and the action is encouraged by using the collar.
As a prompt
As in a ‘tap on the shoulder.’ Done at a level the dog will feel it can stimulate them into action (Pun intended). Imagine a coach who has been outlining what he wants a player to do and then taps them on the shoulder and says, “Go for it.” More than that, it concentrates on the command you are giving, making the dog respond more quickly. It is a “Let’s do it” rather than a must-do one.
As a reinforcement
To reinforce a command when the dog has not responded acceptably following a command. For example – following a Sit command that has not been obeyed or done with little willingness. A Tap with the collar or an application of continuous, while the command is given again, reinforces what is required. The level is very low and maybe the same as a Prompt, but it can also be one level higher provided it does not create confusion.
To catch the dog’s attention.
Where a dog has willfully and knowingly disobeyed or blown you off, the most effective method of correcting is often one that catches their attention and refocuses the dog on what is required. Momentary tapping in staccato fashion or an application of continuous when a dog runs in the opposite direction or ignores when requested to come. A good technique is referred to as ‘indirect pressure.’ In this instance, the dog is told to sit with the collar and then tapped again as if to say, “Listen to me, don’t resist, ignore, or disobey the next command.”
To avert a behavior
To stop focus on the wrong behavior and redirect to what is required. Similar to above, but creating a look at me and concentrate where a new action is not quite taught.
Also, to stop misbehavior where you do not want the dog to realize the stimulation comes from yourself. Digging, counter surfing, barking, etc.
The bottom line is you must use this piece of equipment properly like any piece of equipment. When it is used properly, the results are awe-inspiring.
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