I assume this is probably a very opinionated and sensitive topic, so going to throw a quick disclaimer here before I get to my actual post. Please try not to be rude when replying.
I understand what a shock collar is (not going to mask it with a pretty name), I've already bought one (but haven't used it yet), and I understand the risks involved. Some view it as cruel and inhumane, but are the alternatives better? Choking, pronging, and jerking can also be harmful.
I already shocked myself with the collar on the lowest setting intentionally so I know what my dog is feeling. I am not approaching this matter lightly, which is why I am doing my homework and research before doing a full training regimen.
Primary problems I am trying to fix:
Harassment/bullying of other dogs at the dog park.
This is primarily in the form of constant in-the-dogs-face barking with the goal of getting the dog to run for a chase. It is non-aggressive, but it sometimes makes other dog owners uneasy and the constant barking just plain irritates others.
Obsession with small animals.
When visiting friends or family, I like to bring my dog. But she gets fixated on my friends rabbit, or my familys cats. I think the cats she don't do any harm to because they defend themselves. But if she got to the rabbit, I fear she would kill it.
Now, so far in my research it seems the best way to start is to get the dog used to the collar, by putting it on without using it. Otherwise she will learn that she doesn't have to behave when the collar is off. Some also say to keep the remote out of sight at all times so they don't associate the remote (and consequently you) with the shock. I imagine always having the remote with you would accomplish the same goal.
The next steps seems to be reinforcing already learned behaviors such as sit and come. To do this, the plan is to ask them to do the command, and shock them until they comply.
One article starts with the recall (Dr. P's Dog Training: The Electronic Collar
), by shocking them without a command, but showing the dog the shock stops when they approach the trainer. To avoid the dog becoming a "velcro", he then teaches sit, and then sit-stay.
Other methods seem to just simply start with re-enforcing already learned commands, and shocking until they comply.
I'm not sure what is truly the best way to introduce the dog to the shock collar, and I am looking for input on this.
After re-enforcing already-learned commands, the next big step is the dog park. This I think will be the hardest and I am looking for the most input on.
The problem is we'll enter the park, or another dog will enter the park, and after quick initial greetings, she'll pick a dog to bark at (whichever gives the most reaction), and will bark and follow incessantly. She will also bark in the face of any dog trying to retrieve a toy, causing that dog to stop trying to retrieve the toy (and killing everyone's fun).
I can tell her leave it and walk to the other side of the park all day, but she eventually will go back to that dog, or just find someone else to harass.
I'm not sure at what point I should be shocking her in this process, and if I should be using tones as a warning, or reserve tones as a reward noise. Some barking is ok.
Should I be tying a command "leave it" to the shock?
How do I not make her entirely afraid of barking at the dog park, or attempting to play in general?
We've been going about once a week for the past year, so she strongly associates it with playtime, and I don't want to affect that.
As for harassment of small animals, my plan is to shock her when she gets near the rabbit cage, or shock her when I tell her to leave it.
Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading, and thanks for any tips.