“How long will I have to use my ecollar?”
This is probably the most common question we get regarding remote collar training, and it comes up both when we are initially talking with new clients about our training programs and methodologies, and often again during the send home lesson after the completion of a program. Most dog owners, even ones that trust us immensely, are hesitant about this particular training tool when they haven’t used it before. It makes sense; there is a lot of scary information out there that will tell you remote collar training will damage your relationship with your dog or your dogs psyche. Of course, once people see the tool in action and the freedom that comes with it, usually utilizing the ecollar is a no-brainer. Owners get more comfortable with a tool, they see its value in their day-to-day lives, and they understand that it is their insurance policy whenever their dog is off leash. That’s not the ecollar related struggle we want to talk about today.
“I barely even have to use my remote collar anymore, all I do is hold up the remote and my dog behaves.”
This mentality can cause major setbacks in training. The idea that the remote collar should strike fear into a dog, and that it is a punishment only tool, can create many long-term problems. Modern remote collar training has come a long way, and long gone are the days where its only application is a punishment device. When a dog has been trained properly on the remote collar, it is happy in the work. The tool is consistent, and therefore not scary. We use it just like we would a leash, teaching them what the stim is and how to make it go away, using it regularly at lower levels to communicate with the dog rather than punish it. When you treat your remote collar like an invisible leash and a communication device, there is no major negative association with the feeling of the stim. Then, when you need to use it as punishment for being disobedient to an obedience cue (that is well known and understood) the dog has hundreds of repetitions of lower level work to fall back on, and the dog does not take it as something frightening or unexpected. It is a well understood part of their daily training regimen and they bounce back quickly.
Dogs will always tell us how their owners are training them at home. When a dog returns for refresher training, we can immediately pinpoint where owners are being inconsistent, unfair, or incorrect in their training and use of tools. If a dog has a negative emotional reaction to low level remote collar work, it is almost always indicative of the remote collar being used solely as a punishment device. The dog often shuts down, refuses food, and looks confused in the training. When done correctly, that should not happen. Our goal is not to make dogs sad — it is to open up their world, and allow them more freedom.
Getting comfortable with your training equipment is a necessary piece of the dog training puzzle. As we have said before, dog training is a journey, not a destination. Your dog will require lifelong maintenance of their training, and doing so correctly is very important. If you ever feel uncertain while training your dog, get advice from your trainer as soon as possible. We are here to support you in the continuation of your dogs training, and want you to be successful.