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E-Collar + Treats = A Great Intro to Recall for a Young Dog

by Robin MacFarlane

Just like Pavlov's ringing bell meant food was to be delivered, this low-level e-collar tap comes to mean a treat is available.

Often, people think of me as an "E-collar trainer". Although I do a considerable amount of education on e-collar use, my preference is to simply be considered a dog trainer.

What a lot of people may not know is that my earliest influences in the training arena were experts who taught mainly through lure and reward techniques.

Utilizing treats or toys early in the training process to help shape basic behaviors is a natural part of what I do. So much so, that I never really gave it a lot of thought until it was pointed out to me one day by Steve Snell when I was working a young pup on an e-collar introduction.

With puppies or young dogs who aren't very experienced at handling any leash pressure I often start shaping the recall using an association that Tap (e-collar stimulation) = Treat.

It is a pretty quick way to develop a decent recall for any food motivated dog. And most young pups are pretty food motivated!

As soon as I know I've found a level of sensation that the dog can feel, I begin to tap the button and then immediately deliver a treat. The dog creates an association very rapidly. Just like Pavlov's ringing bell meant food was to be delivered, this low-level e-collar tap comes to mean a treat is available and the dogs start to look for the delivery hand pretty quickly.

Within the first session I begin to build in the concept of orienting toward me and returning so the dog is learning the basic mechanics of a recall. Once the association is set, I can begin to add a verbal cue to it as well.

This is a very nice way to create positive experience with e-stim for a young pups first exposure. It is also to build a fairly reliable recall to a tactile cue.

I'd also like to point out that if a dog has had some previous negative associations with stimulation that was too high, and thus the dog has a flat or anxious association with e-collar use, this is one way you can start over and create a new outlook. Make sure you keep the level low (relative to the dog's sensitivity) AND use high value treats to maintain motivation.

Take a look at how well this young pup caught on.

-- Robin

Robin MacFarlane is a professional dog trainer and owner of Thatís My Dog in Dubuque, Iowa. Her best-selling dog training DVDs, JUST RIGHT and JUST RIGHT 2 have helped thousands of dog owners teach their dogs basic obedience and fix problem behaviors through a system of training that you can easily work into your daily routine.
  • Robin writes for Gun Dog Supply on our E-collars Dog Training blog
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  • Pull-Quote= Just like Pavlov's ringing bell meant food was to be delivered, this low-level e-collar tap comes to mean a treat is available.

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