Do You Need Impeccable Timing in Order to Use a Remote Collar?
by Robin MacFarlane
"Ready. Set. Wait. Wait, Ready, Set. Okay, NOW!"
Perhaps you've heard statements that suggest you need to have perfect timing in order to use a remote collar. I've seen that sentiment pop up again recently in a few debates regarding electronic collars.
Here are just a couple statements I remember reading:
"In order to be effective in using a shock collar one must possess impeccable timing."
"For effective shock collar training, perfect timing is needed, and even most training professionals don't possess perfect timing."
I am a continually perplexed by these sort of statements. In order to gain some clarity, I looked up the words, impeccable and perfect, in my dog-eared 2005 copy of Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.
"Impeccable" is pretty straightforward in it's meaning: "without defect or error; faultless or flawless." However, there are numerous definitions for the word "perfect." I am drawing the conclusion that the author above intended the meaning as either: a) "completely correct or accurate; exact; precise" or b) "in a condition of complete excellence, as a skill or quantity, faultless."
Since the word "faultless" is a definition commonality between the two, I'm going to go with that as the underlying intent in both of the author's statements about the timing needed when using a remote collar.
And that led me to wondering.
Is it only a remote collar that requires faultless timing? What about using a prong or slip collar? Should they require faultless timing also? And how about when I use verbal markers and clickers in my training? Should I have impeccable or perfect timing then as well? Is there a concern when I am using a marker to indicate to my dog, "Yes! You've got it correct!" that my timing should be equally as faultless so that the dog can make the appropriate association?
I would think so.
After all, I am all for having as perfect of timing as possible when we are training our dogs.
It is a simple fact that the better your timing is, the faster your dog will learn. Dogs are in-the-moment creatures and we've long preached about the 2 second association rule when teaching them new behaviors.
But wait a minute, it just dawned on me -- if we all agree that that the 2 second rule is a pretty well accepted principle in the dog training world then we have a bit of room for error don't we? I mean two seconds is pretty generous, even for someone newly learning to work with a dog.
If you count it out, one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, I believe most average folks can get the timing of clicking a button within that guideline. And most dog training professionals worth their salt can find creative ways to teach their novice handlers decent timing before they have them practicing with their dogs.
Do you suppose that the statements above are so strongly worded so they can be used to scare the unknowing dog owner from looking deeper into the use of remote collars?
I'd have to say I'm led to that conclusion because to imply that only one tool needs flawless timing when it fact they all require good timing and none tolerate poor timing is a bit misleading in my book. I mean, gosh, "impeccable" and "perfect" seem like pretty intimidating qualities to achieve.
Here's the way I see it. Regardless of the tool you chose to train your dog, you need decent timing. The closer you are to "At The Moment of Behavior Change" the faster your dog is going to learn. You've got a 2 second window of opportunity to get it right. If you can't be within those timing guidelines, find a way to practice the skill without your dog before you proceed.
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.