Electronic training collars
I'm going to start a couple different threads real quick. For all of us without a bunch of gundog experience, you can look through the dog supply section of the Cabela's hunting catalog and simply get lost in all the gadgets. So here's the first one...
What are the pros/cons and general experiences and opinions of electronic training collars (which takes up some 8 pages of my Cabela's catalog)?
There are a myriad of different models to choose from.
Here again it depends on the application for which it will be used.
The higher end models have a lot more selection in the levels of intensity than the lower end ones. For example I use a Pro 500(Tri-tronics) for my yard training and an Upland or a Flyway Special (200 series collars)(also Tri-tronics) for all my field work and hunting needs.
For the yard training the Pro 500 gives me a whole lot more flexibility in adjusting the intensity level to fit to the dog I am working with. There are 6 levels with a low, medium and a high at each level. I can select nick or continous at the flip of a switch.
The 200 series gives 2 levels of nick and one continous at each level.
There are some models with vibrate or tone modes as well so that you can warn your dog before correction is applied.
Most folks don't need an upper end model. Unless you happen to work with a lot of dogs where many sensitivity levels are needed.
I would recommend a medium price range model. These would be one with selection of momentary and continous and at least a low and high selection on each level. Most Sport models provide enough for the average hunter.
Before working with one of these collars I recommend reading Tritronics retriever training. There is a section about e collar use. Or contact a professional that is used to handling e collars. Dogs need to be properly collar conditioned. An e collar is just another training aid. Just as a leash , heeling stick and etc. It needs to be applied properly and at the correct time and level of intensity for it to be affective. The dogs need to understand they are in control of the switch. The quicker they respond to the command the less time of the stimulation. With proper conditioning your dog should be alot snappier on commands. The dog also needs to understand that the stimulation is coming from you. You don't want your dog to think the world is out to get him.
Don't be in a big rush to slap one of these on your dog. Teach obedience with out the collar. My training program only uses the collar to back up the command once it has been taught.
Oh. More info.
Always start off with the lowest setting. Using the e collar to reinforce a command the dog already knows.
Never activate the collar when the dog is at your side. Beside you should always be the dogs comfort zone.
I like to collar condition dogs to the "here" command. I have a rope pulley system that I use in my yard. I will sit them and leave them and walk away. I will command "Here" and activate the collar and pull them to me with the rope. I will let off the collar pressure when they have come to me. I will then go up a level in intensity on the collar for the next run. I will walk them out to the same spot and do the same thing.
I can tell each dogs thresh hold. Which is the level on the collar I wouldn't go beyond. It varys from dog to dog. The dog should just tweek its head to the side. That is the right level. If the dog becomes vocal, you need to back it down a notch. But always start low and work up. Most dogs I have worked with are low 2 some stubborn dogs may take a 3. I never use any levels higher than that. By the time I have completed collar conditioning to the "here" command the dogs are flying at me with a purpose. When I say "here" they will tear the ground up to get to me as quick as possible.
This is just one drill that I use to collar condition dogs.
Good info Wetlands
I bought a Dogtra brand collar from cabelas. It was about $265 or with free shipping, watch the internet sales. I bought on good for one mile and is waterproof. It has eight settings which can be use with either nick or constant. It has one dial, the intensity level. Then two button, nick or constant. Easy to use and battery last a long time, rechargable units. My dog is small and in my avatar. She did good with the training and the collar. She was trained pretty well to begin with though. It really helped with walking in town and seeing moose. She often ran after them until she found them. With the collar all it took was one no and a low shock. Now every time we see moose. I just say no. She will look direction and that is it. I can even let her get close to them and then say no and she comes back to me. I keep it on number 2 all the time. It is light tingle. Her head does twitch the side sometimes. Mostly just use the nick. She yelps with the constant on any setting. I have hit with the number 8 before on constant to break up a fight, bad thing about the breed I chose. Often times fight to thier death. Number 8 feels like getting shocked by an outlet in your house. I have tried all the setting and 8 makes me yell. Very effective none the less. She behaves pretty well without it on. Just start out slow. Let them wear it first a few times. Then start with a simple comand and go from there. My dog stll freaks out when I tell her to lay down. Her hardest command to follow. When I first got the collar I started on the low setting and said lay down. She didn't so I nicked her. Proceeded until I got to number 5. She then ran down stairs scared and hid under the bed. I then said come. She didn't so I nicked her on a lower setting. I could hear her bumping her head under the bed every time I nicked her. I was still up stairs. I retrieved her and took it off. Let a few days pass and started with her again just on easy commands. Worked like a charm after that first night. Now she wears it every night when I ride my bike and she just runs. I hardly shock her. But there for if I do need to, and it makes it legal for her to run like that in town. She listens very well, even to new commands with out nicking her. Made her a very good dog I think. When it is off of her, I think I can see her trying to prove to me that she doesn't need the collar on. But when there is a lot of comotion around she gets distracted pretty easily. So in short I highly recommend it.
Let's say it again
Collars are NOT a cure all, quick fix, ignore all other tools item. You can screw up a dog faster with electricity than any other method I have seen. Before you use one, learn all you can about it. Before you strap it on the dog, do all the basics so they are rock solid. Then, strap it on yourself. You choose which part of your anatomy gets "tickled".
Conditioning is important. Important enough that I would reiterate everything Wetland said, but won't. I get to add my own. Each command you teach the dog should be also taught with the collar, but only after Dusty is rock solid on those commands. "HERE" is a good place to start. But you also need to do all of the others also. So this is where Wetland and I separate a bit.
We train with positive and negatives. Using a jerk on the leash or a heeling stick (WL's term) are negatives. They are used to provide correction to get a positive response (or impetus). The collar should be no different. Years ago people used the collar to punish. Trust me, it is not a place you want to be. Use the collar just as you would use your hand, switch, or voice.
At some point you may very well run into a situation where your dog refuses to retrieve. If that happens it is probable that there is too much "heat" out there. Too much stress. You will need to balance that out by applying pressure at your side. That means nicking the dog with electricity, commanding "HEEL", and move forward. We used to call it "burning forward".
Time to call it a night. Give Dusty a pat and a scratch for us.
Just for point of reference, I started this thread (and the couple others on gear) simply for general discussion to try and get some more good info out of the experiences of this group (and it's working). I do own an e-collar. I have a Cabela's (Innotek) basic model that I bought a couple years ago and used with my last dog for a short while. As I wasn't doing any field work with that dog, I only used it for some reinforcement training sessions from about 6 to 10 months old. It was put away and I only break it out every couple months to recharge the battery pack so it doesn't go bad on me. I haven't yet decided whether I'll use it for Dusty, but if I do it will be down the road a bit.
Have you guys seen this GPS locator offering from Garmin? It is listed in the current Cabela's and looks like a pretty nifty gadget for those upland guys working in tall grass fields. I've done some of that kind of hunting at my uncle's place down in southcentral Washington a few years ago and you can easily lose a dog out there in the rolling hill hay fields separated by thick stands of brush and trees.
If I were doing upland work in grasslands, especially with multiple dogs, I think I would be all about getting this set up. Don't suppose anyone around here has seen such an item in use? Though I can't see much use for this setup in Alaska.
This is where the rubber meets the road, The collar should have never been needed to "burn back". This is where the dog was not given the most key part of training, prior to ever seeing an e-collar.
Originally Posted by Ak River Rat
Now the dew is going to hit he fan, the dreaded FF needs to be aired out and take no prisoners in the doing.
You have to get your mind in gear for this as you have to address this issue.
What is the real purpose of having this dog?
If the answer is a pet that you can take along for a hunt now and then, then READ No Further!
If the answer is you want a dog that will not have you wading out to pick up the birds when his mind is not up to the job, then you better get to and understanding and get your mind right about FFing your dog.
I don't care what the excuse is that anyone can think up about why this is bad, the get another dog, all the BS arguments I've heard for years.
Facts are facts. The best dog are always going to have been FF'd.
If you can't do it, I don't blame you one little bit.
BUT, if you don't pay someone to do it for you, you've cheated yourself and you have cheated the dog!
This is fundamental to the gun dog training and is one of the key elements.
You lost me Al
I am not sure what you are saying there but am willing to listen. Let's go back a bit though first.
Wetland's second post indicates to never activate the collar with the dog at your side. The handler should be the comfort zone. If true, what do you call it when you scold, spank, punish, or correct the dog verbally or physically? My point is that the collar should be used no differently than any other tool.
Secondly, as we train and advance the dogs, we get into more complex situations. Even though we simplify by breaking down the marks into singles, shortening the blinds, or whatever else, things do get more complex. With that comes stress. I have never seen a dog or trainer always be successful every time they work out. When there is stress in the field, depending on the dog (force fetched or not) there may be a refusal to go. The dog may go, but "pop" and refuse to go further.
The pressure needs to be balanced. That means, at some point, a handler may need to add pressure at his side to get the dog to go. We do not have crystal balls. Even though we attempt to build on positives, and keep things moving forward, sometimes it just doesn't work that way.
Does force fetch help? Yes. Force fetch gives the handler a tool to use that applies tremendous control over the dog. Again, in spite of force fetching, I have seen and handled very high powered, well trained dogs that have had refusals to go. Am I an advocate of force fetching dogs? In a word, yes. Not only do I use FF for control, I use it as the basis to teach handling and forcing into the water.
The dog has always to be under pressure when we work them.
The key is, "they have to try to beat the pressure" Remember when trainers would use a shotgun on the dog with vary light shot? This is from the unpublished notes I have from RON GOINA (sp). He takes a long time to say that the dog has always got to be trying to beat the pressure of the coming command.
He is right when you recall just exactly what Pavloff proved, by the way his experiments are vary far reaching and need to be the basis for understanding the dog and how he using his brain.
When I got his notes some 25 years ago, I realized why they would never be published (there would have been public book burnings).
All training starts short, the whip you carry stuck in your back pocket is no different than the e-collar. Remember the Tri-tronics video with the dogs when the e-collars had the collars strapped around their rearends coming to heel?
Comfort zone with the handler? Not in my world! The dog has always got to try to beat the pressure. Where does the pressure come from? YOU !!!
This is why we start short and slowly extend the distance, but only if we have total control from us to the dog. Yes I use a lot of rope, just like we teach going through cover, over cover to stay on line. Where do we do this but up short in the yard.
Did you miss out teaching the dog, that every time you send him, theirs something out there for him to retrieve? That was done short with multiple retrieves with planted or dropped off bumper and done straight line, wasn't it?
It is all we can do is to expand on what we've already taught the dog in the yard. We can never teach when the dog is not in are control. Heck, he knows by the time he gets into the water what he goes in for.
Yes, I've seen refusals also, the question has always been, why?
I suspect the number one reason for a refusal, is poor conditioning of the dog.
I hope this has helped to clear up what I believe to be the correct, (read, what works for me) way to handle.
Dog training involves the use of force and pressure. It is up to the trainer to educate the dog on how to turn the pressure off. Showing the dog the proper response in order to receive positive reward.
quoted earlier. "Never activate the collar when the dog is at your side."
I am addressing fundamentals of introductory conditioning of dogs to the e collar. Introductory drills you will do with the collar are here, heel, recall, staying stationary and etc..
PLEASE read the following drills explained step by step.
As you will read into them the first drills are designed so that the collar is not used at your side. As you progress you will use the collar to teach heel. But even then you allow the dog to lag or get ahead before correction is given. There again positive reward is given when the learning dog is at your side. The dog learns how and where to go to turn off the pressure.
Yes, there are more ways to use the collar, but you don't use them during collar conditioning.
Visit this website and select obedience training articles.
Let me know if you need help with some of these drills.
Let me add this link for all that need more help, I recommend that you read, watch and talk to trainers with a lot of e-collar time before you put one on your dog. Misused and they will cause nothing but trouble to undo.
I am no do expert handler, paid a fella in Fbks. to train two males. He uses a training collar and I too use it for reinforcement in the early stages of training. The Flyway special is what I have, batteries need replacing and the last big male that I have does not require as such-kind of thinks on his own like "selective" hearing but he is alright. 7 yrs. old and done well, no field trials, just backwoods duck retrieving-my buddy Jack.
In the wrong hands it would be a dogs worse nightmare.
I'll just say this...I have am a believer in the use of a shock collar, but I am also a believer of NOT putting this on your dog until you are willing to try it on yourself - PERIOD. You owe that to your dog. If you can't shock yourself, you have ZERO business in putting one of these on your pooch, and dont just give yourself the lowest setting - you betting go through each one of them so you know what you are getting into. You will be surprised and the levels of intensity these things can put out, and it will teach you what levels you should expect to give you dog.
I'm a firm believer in using very low low levels for the basic commands. So low the dog doesn't feel anything other than mild discomfort and it always goes away when he gets back to my side, heels, comes, here or whatever your command is. Read the TriTonics book first before you ever even activate it
As far as Collars go i have the Innotek Retreiver Trainer 400 (9 years old) and its good for close in work, but the charging is a Pain, and the Transmitter batts aren't very good. I wont be getting another one of these as the price was high, and quality wasn't what i was expecting.
I suspect that all the Chi-com dog collars are made by the same company, regardless of the name or the look of the housing.
I believe it is a waste of money to use anything but the Tri-tronic's collars. At least in my case I spent 250.00+ on a collar that went teats up in less than two years and ended up buying the U.S. made Tri-Tronics and have had no problems in more than 15 years.
Laughing out loud
For those of us with a sense of humor.
You gotta check out these videos on Youtube.
Search "duck blind antics"
When "Cutter" mentioned using it on yourself I remembered these videos.
I do take my dog training seroiusly, believe me.
But I couldn't resist falling to the floor laughing the first time I saw these.
Ya'll have fun with it.
Thank you for that, I was nearly wet myself on number 3 vid.
oh god - those are GREAT - and just about Spot on! I tell you this much - when i had my wife hit me with the red button - the MOMENTARY 1/16th of a Second red button - I had an out of body experience! similar to that guy falling on the floor
Old tritronics pins
I have an old A1-70 with the 5 pin system. I would have prospective "users" start with 1, apply contact to their anatomy (their choice) and hit the button. Then on to 2, 3 ... Number 3 started getting their undivided attention. 4 was like the Richter scale in amount of power increased. Whenever it got to 5, it was all they could physically do to push the button. I wish back then we had You Tube and video cameras. The outcome was predictably hillarious. I saw everything from tears to screaming.
I remember a pro (name and state deleted by me) a long time ago went to Tritronics and said not enough power. The old units were brown. TT built him a special black unit. He tried it out. Nicknamed it the WELDER. Wonder whatever happened to those units?