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post #4 of (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 10:38 PM
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Baillif's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,776
E collars aren't voodoo. They aren't magical dog ruiners if not used to a certain method.

They are a novel form of punishment at least until the dog gets used to them.

In my experience any form of punishment or negative reinforcement can cause the same superstitious associations you see related to ecollar use. There seem to be a few factors that determine the odds of it happening.

Intensity- the more ouch factor the higher the chance of a superstitious association. They really really want to avoid a high intensity punisher or neg reinforcer from happening again and if it isn't crystal clear as to why it happened then the dog is going to "cover all his bases" so to speak. An e collar can deliver a very highly unpleasant sensation without worry of physical damage to the dog. More so than hitting them with something. Therefore some people will be more likely to blast a dog.

Novelty of the punisher or negative reinforcer- the more novel a punishment the higher a chance of a superstitious association.

Novelty of the environment in which the unpleasant stimulus occurs.

An example of both of those coming together would be the time we had a new dog loose in the training room about to go for a bowl of food off the counter in the break room kitchen and one of us threw our car keys at him without marking the event. The keys didn't even hit the dog but it startled the dog and since both the punishment and the environment were both novel the dog avoided the crap out of that whole area afterward even though the punishment event occurred as the dog was beginning to counter surf.

Clarity- How clear you are to the dog is huge. Lots of factors play into this. Timing, teaching methods, prior experiences, methodologies, consistency.

Even if you do cause a superstitious association you just identify it and show the dog it's not true and fix it.

It's not rocket science. Does require some thought though.
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