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Shock collars and dog training

Jan 19, 2016 | Lifestyles

By Thomas A. Beitz

Training dogs with shock collars has drawn strong opposition, as well as zealot-like advocates. The shock collar, which is also referred to as an E-collar, is probably one of the most misunderstood training devices within the dog training community. I have always found it astonishing that those who oppose the E-collar most have little or no experience using them, while many people that advocate the use of the E-collar really don’t understand how they work or are using them in an antiquated way. As with most polarizing issues, the truth of a subject is found not in the extremes but somewhere in the middle.

One of the myths associated with E-collars has to do with the old stories of the original E-collars of 40 years ago. These collars were used primarily by hunting dog trainers for discouraging inappropriate behaviors. These collars packed quite a punch and were harsh and extremely punitive. Although most of the E-collars made today are not anything like the collars of 40 years ago, many people that use them employ the same unnecessarily harsh approach used decades ago. 

E-collars of today have been engineered to function using a pet friendly approach to training, employing a specific strategy to build success through effective communication. The outcome of all training is effective communication. You know you’ve communicated with your dog when he complies with your request in the presence of major distractions. The tagline for my business is “Sit happens,” because any dog can sit when you’re standing in your kitchen all alone with your dog with a treat in your hand. It’s quite another thing to get your dog to sit when the doorbell rings. But, that is a subject for another day.

When I began using E-collars 20 years ago I discovered that there were many similarities between the E-collar and the bit in a horse’s mouth. You use the bit to give the horse a physical cue in order to guide the horse. The pressure on the bit is not punishment, but a gentle cue to communicate your desires to the horse. Well trained horses are what we call “soft in the bit,” which means they only need the slightest pressure on the bit to understand what is being asked. The E-collar can be used the same way to communicate with your dog. Using extremely low-stimulation levels on the E-collar, you can guide your dog the same way a horseman guides his horse. A well trained dog on the E-collar only needs the gentlest stimulation to understand what you are asking.

There is a very specific methodology for training a dog using the E-collar which is literally 10 times faster than other training methods and yields significantly better results.  Twenty years ago it would take four to six months to train a dog to be off-leash reliable with about an 85 percent reliability. Today, with the use of an E-collar and my training strategy, you can train any dog to be off-leash reliable in about a month with nearly 100 percent reliability. The emphasis is on training your dog to comply to a series of commands and not on punishing bad habits.

Tom Beitz is a canine behavior specialist and the owner of Smart Dog Solutions. He has been training dogs throughout Western New York since 1995, conducting private lessons in the home as well as his popular boarding school programs. He can be reached at 628-0651 or on the web at www.SmartDogSolutions.com

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