The One Thing You Must Know if You Want to Train with an E-Collar
by Robin MacFarlane
"Help your dog understand what you want."
Quite often when people begin training with a remote collar they are very concerned with finding the right level of stimulation for their dog. This is an important aspect and something that deserves attention. It is important to watch the dog for cues when finding the "Just Right" level.
But there is another piece to the training puzzle that is sometimes over-looked and is as important, if not more important, than having the stimulation level perfectly dialed in.
The pivotal piece is to help your dog understand what you want.
This is critical to success. Under estimating the importance of helping the dog understand is the biggest reason people struggle with remote collar training.
Most commonly this happens because the dog has been trained previously with other tools or techniques. There is an assumption that just because the dog was trained using treats, a slip collar or a check cord, that he will automatically understand enforcement with the e-collar.
It is simply not the case. Dogs need to be taught how to comprehend this tool just like any other. When adding an e-collar to the training equation there is always the First Time the dog experiences stimulation. The first time can be confusing simply because it is a brand new experience for the dog. This is why the "helping" concept is so important.
A dog trained with other tools doesn't understand e-collar stimulation the first time he feels it anymore than a human would immediately understand a foreign language just because he is fluent in his native tongue. New is new, regardless of language; there is always a learning curve when something new is introduced.
If we understand that we must assist the dog when we first introduce stimulation, then training through tactile cueing goes pretty smoothly, and the dog picks it up quickly.
Mastering the various ways to help is the reason I can so easily train green dogs from the start with the e-collar. I understand how to help them understand.
It is helping the dog understand what to do about the sensation that makes all the difference in the world to a successful outcome. So I get frustrated by those who assume you just put the collar on the dog, start pushing buttons, turn up the level if he's not listening, and "Wa-lah!", the dog will get it.
When the outcome isn't so rosy for those who go about the training in that haphazard way, they blame the tool rather than accepting the fact that they really didn't know what they were doing.
It isn't a fair assumption.
If I go purchase a few wrenches and ratchets to tweak the engine of my car, I can't blame the tools if I mess up. It is up to me to take accountability that I need an education on what I'm doing.
Training with a remote collar is not terribly difficult, but it does take some knowledge. When you are adding this tool to your dog's training , make sure you understand that you have to help your dog through the initial introduction. That help might be via the leash, some luring or modeling of behavior. Once the dog truly does understand what the sensation means, you'll be off and running.
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.