For anyone still in the Landshark phase - E-COLLAR! - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 12-15-2012, 03:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default For anyone still in the Landshark phase - E-COLLAR!

Our Ninja has been a roller-coaster ride. He is too smart by half, athletic, and has drive through the roof!

He is the third GSD I've owned. My first was from a Seiger champion, and had his Schutzhund obedience training. I never finished his training (a divorce, long story) but I thought he had a lot of drive. Yeah... he was a pussycat compared to this one.

My second was just about the most perfect dog you could imagine. He trained so easily, I figured I had just gotten better and now I had the magic touch. Except, now I see it was just the dog was amazing.

This one though... oh my! We've had a love-hate-love relationship for about six months now. There were times it seemed we were making progress and then he would do something that would frustrate me so badly I seriously considered becoming a cat person.

If we kept him totally worn out, we escaped the day without wounds. Other than that, he was good for most of the day and then about once or twice a day he would turn into some MMA fighter and nothing would satisfy him until he had a few rounds.

This slowly started to abate as he approached six months. But two things remained as huge problems: Walks and Car Rides. On walks, he would try to take control. He wouldn't just try to pull us where he wanted to go -- disobedience on our part was met with discipline! He would aggressively bite my instep, and block my movement. This would especially be true if a car passed and I wouldn't let him chase it. This always turned into a "Now I must teach you a lesson" moment.

I tried everything. Treats. Distractions. Praise. Ignoring him. Picking him up and carrying him. Anything. Everything. Nothing worked. The end result was that I stopped taking him for walks. They were too exhausting and frustrating. We started driving him to a park to let him run, but then he started being car aggressive from within our car. He would snarl and growl at every car that passed. My ears would be ringing from the barking to the point every car ride turned into a migraine headache. The end result: No more car rides.

The scary thing -- that I worried about all the time -- is what would happen if he ever got out of the fenced yard... I was really worried about what would happen should a car come by.

On the day he turned six months old, I bought an E-Collar.

OMG, what a lifesaver!

I know there are some on here who will tell you that e-collars are inhumane and the only way to train a dog is with a clicker and positive reinforcement. To those people I would say: You've never met this dog. I would have said the same thing after my first two GSDs. This guy is different.

The e-collar changed everything. First, I bought the best I could find and it has over 100 levels of stim. Second, I put it on my bare leg and tested it at varying levels. Yeah, as I approach level 100, it isn't pleasant. But it isn't like getting tazed or anything. (My son is an MP in the army. He's been tazed as part of his training. He told me that the collar is not even close.)

Secondly, I slowly worked my way up the stim levels with him. I was waiting for any indication that he felt it, slowly increasing the stim one level at a time. He feels it at level 55. I've felt level 55. It is like a nine volt battery on a tongue. Which is something I used to do as a kid on a dare. It's not something that you laugh about, but it is a LOT less pain than getting yanked by the neck with a prong collar.

The collar has a nick button and a continuous button. The nick button is what I use 99% of the time. As a car approaches, I tell him to leave it. If he starts to go after it, I tell him No! and hit the nick button. He bristles when it nicks him, but other than that, you'd barely know he got nicked. Three times now, I have used the continuous button because he was aggressively going after a car. Yeah, that makes him cry out. I hate that, but I would rather him cry out now, than end up under the wheel of the UPS truck some day.

But, remember I told you he was smart? Now that he knows the nick can lead to continuous, he never pushes it that far. And here's the best part: He doesn't even know I am the one hitting the nick button. Unlike popping him with a prong collar, the e-collar does nothing to harm our bond. As far as he knows, I am simply warning him before God-Almighty punishes him.

We are now going for long walks, and he is just fine. We just got back from the park -- someplace we hadn't been in a couple of months. Now that he no longer is snarling and barking at cars, we'll be doing more of that. Guess what? He is a lot happier now. We are getting out to new places. He is spending more time doing things he loves to do. And I am enjoying it all for a change. Talk about a win-win! He hardly ever gets nicked any more. Now when I say: "Leave it" he listens! What a concept!

The other great thing is the effect my stern "No!" has now. Even when he is not wearing his collar, he is listening to me now.

Not that all is nirvana in my house. Every now and then, he still wants to tussle, and he can still be pushy -- but that's fine. It's easy to take now because it isn't a three times a day thing. And my wife's hands and arms finally don't look like she has been beat with a cat of nine tails.

I know some people are going to recoil in horror at this post. Let them. If you have a high drive dog who won't listen no matter what you do, mark the six month anniversary on the calender, and buy both you and your dog a present. It will change everything.

More info on the proper use of an e-collar can be found on this member's site:

E-Collar Forum
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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There are already a gazillion threads about e-collars here, many of them with recent posts on them. Lou Castle is a member of this forum and posts frequently.

BTW, how old is your puppy?
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I thought you were supposed to use continuous to make him uncomfortable and stop the stim when he did the desired behavior?
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Old 12-15-2012, 06:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I thought you were supposed to use continuous to make him uncomfortable and stop the stim when he did the desired behavior?
One of the reasons I don't recommend the e collars to people is generally they don't use it properly and so it doesn't work.

What does work is finding a good trainer, attending the weekly classes with your dog, and both of you learning as the weeks go on.

Knowledgeable trainer, consistent training, teaching and learning on both the dog PLUS the owner makes my dog end up brilliant.
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Old 12-15-2012, 08:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MarkJoel60 View Post
I tried everything. Treats. Distractions. Praise. Ignoring him. Picking him up and carrying him. Anything. Everything. Nothing worked. The end result was that I stopped taking him for walks. They were too exhausting and frustrating. We started driving him to a park to let him run, but then he started being car aggressive from within our car. He would snarl and growl at every car that passed. My ears would be ringing from the barking to the point every car ride turned into a migraine headache. The end result: No more car rides.

On the day he turned six months old, I bought an E-Collar.

OMG, what a lifesaver!

I know there are some on here who will tell you that e-collars are inhumane and the only way to train a dog is with a clicker and positive reinforcement. To those people I would say: You've never met this dog. I would have said the same thing after my first two GSDs. This guy is different.

I know some people are going to recoil in horror at this post. Let them. If you have a high drive dog who won't listen no matter what you do, mark the six month anniversary on the calender, and buy both you and your dog a present. It will change everything.

More info on the proper use of an e-collar can be found on this member's site:

E-Collar Forum
I am glad you posted this! I will be getting an e collar for Kaylee very soon and using Lou Castle's training methods. I thought e collars were bad due to all the negative comments made all over the net. Lou changed my mind about it. I went to the store and tested one on myself just like you did. I have been reading the, How To... and learning everything about using the e collar properly. I am glad you have been successful using the e collar and training methods provided

Positive reinforcement is good but for Kaylee it is not enough. Lou also gave me a link about rank drive and how to use it. The info provided here is excellent and it has worked for us, Civillian Home
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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One of the reasons I don't recommend the e collars to people is generally they don't use it properly and so it doesn't work.

Exactly that.

It seems the general population is under the impression that the way to get your dog to listen is to shock 'em every time they do something you don't want them to
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cassidy's Mom View Post
BTW, how old is your puppy?
Just Shy of 7 Months now.

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I thought you were supposed to use continuous to make him uncomfortable and stop the stim when he did the desired behavior?
IDK. I guess that was the old school way, but not what is being taught by anyone I know.

I use it exactly like I would do the training with a standard leash -- I just use the e-collar in place of the standard leash for corrections. The nice thing is it is easier to be precise with the correction, whereas "popping" the leash is sort of a variable. (I still have him on a leash, btw. That doesn't change. I also still reward good behavior, praise him when he does it right, and the rest. This is simply another tool in the toolbox. Different dogs require different methods.)


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Originally Posted by KayleeGSD View Post
I am glad you posted this! I will be getting an e collar for Kaylee very soon and using Lou Castle's training methods.
Sounds like you are on the right track then! It isn't magic, of course, but it is a great tool. Good luck, and keep us posted as to how it progresses!
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Feb. 25th 2013 *marked on the calender*

Great that gives me a little over 2 months to start doing research on E collars, and time for him to do maybe 2 classes before I start implementing it. I'll be checking those links =)
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The ecollar is just another tool nothing more nothing less.

My own opinion is it is a great surgical tool for certain issues but I am not particularly fond of it because, improperly used, I have seen dogs loose some of the ooomph they need to be true independant decision-making working dogs. It is hard to describe but the ones I have seen have had some aspect of their personality flattened. It really really is hard to get across what I am saying unless you have seen it. I guess the difference between obedience and partnership.

I know the claim is it can work in this venue and am sure, in the right hands it may. I think you have to be very good with it to make it work this way else you can result in too much of a velcro dog (and Lou addresses that though I am not sure why you linked to his site the way you are using the collar at a 55; when I used his methods for some things all was below 20 (actually around 6!) and his school was escape training-training with the dog at continuous low stim but low enough the dog was clearheaded-not a correction shock like others use)

I do have a high drive and hard dog, and this coming from police master trainers who have helped steer me down a path of solid control A PROPERLY used pinch correction will not damage your relationship with the dog.

As far as positive methods not working on some dogs. MEH. The more I learn the more I think a great trainer can train with a very limited repertoire of corrections. I am not where I want to be yet with this but it humbles me when I see a teammate do things with my very headstrong dog using only positive methods and makes me realize the possibilities.

Though I use corrections, every day I try to be better and better as a positive trainer. I see the police using more and more positive methods in their own training these days.

EDIT- I guess the issue I have is "for anyone in the landshark phase". Not sure how but we got through it relatively unscathed with a little monster with patient redirection. This is done all the time with very bold puppies with much in the way of fight drive as adults.
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I honestly only see myself using this collar to layer in 3 commands that I have deemed the most important.

1. Recall ( He must come when called)
2. Leave it/Stop ( he must release what he has or disengage what he is pursuing)
3. Stay until released ( He must stay put till I say so for his safety and others)

Also this device will be layered on top of what will already be months of positive training methods, but to me these 3 commands are not something that my adult dog can decide whether or not he is going to obey, these are mandatory. As I believe these commands, if not absolutely obeyed, can put his life in danger. So I'll be sure to study through several methods and talk to trainers to be sure it's done correctly. From what I've learned so far an E collar properly implemented is the "icing on the cake". As long as you've baked a good "cake" this will only make things that much better.

I've seen 2 dogs shot by police in NYC, a few stabbed and others hit by vehicles (a lot of badly trained/abused pit bulls sadly). Big dogs induce fear and someone will hurt your animal if you can't control it, I won't let that happen.

I wouldn't use the collar for "tricks".... If he doesn't want to rollover or fetch or give paw, for the millionth time, that's all fine with me but those 3 aren't up for discussion, it's a matter of safety.
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