E-collars - school me on their use - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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E-collars - school me on their use

I've got a drivy pup that I'd like to take camping. I work on focused healing on and off leash with and without distractions nearly daily for months now. That still hasn't stopped the Balto esq tugging on the flat collar when she gets distracted. So I had to go to a prong and it worked like a charm!

So I bought a Dogtra 1900s for off leash out hiking/camping for the same purposes.

Educate me on your preferred methods or materials you reference to make effective and human use of them.

Thanks

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 01:42 AM
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do you have a behavior in mind that you'd like to correct? If so, at the first sign of such behavior you give him a zap.

For instance I used an ecollar to break a couple of dogs I had off livestock. Take me out around said livestock and at the first sign of a chase I busted em. And honestly it only took a few times. I always used mine on a pretty high setting too.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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Chasing is a big thing I'd like to break, she goes after our cats to play constantly and wild animals it's less fun and games and more hunting.

"German Shepherds are cool dogs... You're welcome" - Memoirs of Cpt Stephanitz 1933

You see, a Malinoisí love is very different from that of a square - Prof. Adolph Reul

Millicent Mae WLGSD 4/27/17 &
Grendel KNPV Malinois 2/15/18
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by thegooseman90 View Post
do you have a behavior in mind that you'd like to correct? If so, at the first sign of such behavior you give him a zap.

For instance I used an ecollar to break a couple of dogs I had off livestock. Take me out around said livestock and at the first sign of a chase I busted em. And honestly it only took a few times. I always used mine on a pretty high setting too.
This is not how I have used the e collar in the past nor how I would recommend it.

IME a critical part of e collar training is teaching the dog that it is, in a way, in control of the stim. I don't particularly care for zapping out of no where at high blast except in very very specific circumstances.

I am not big on using aversion to TRAIN dogs. I don't find it fair. I stick to using them to proof.

What I do when introducing an e collar is on the lowest stim level that the dog can feel I simultaneously give a KNOWN command and IMMEDIATELY stop the stim as soon as there is command compliance. This teaches the dog that performing the command turns the collar off. Then it is a matter of finding a working level that is uncomfortable enough for the dog that wanting to turn the stim off is more rewarding than what ever it is he wants to do which is causing the command non compliance in the first place.

@Tennessee

What I would do to stop chasing is first teach a solid leave it in a low distraction environment. I like to teach leave it with food. One somewhat interesting but not great dog treat like a milk bone on the ground, and a super awesome high value reward like string cheese or steak in your hand. When the dog is interested in the milk bone give the leave it command and prevent him from getting the treat (I use my foot to cover it) once the dog gets frustrated and looks away from the boring treat, mark the ignore and reward with the super awesome treat. Once he gets the hang of that switch out the milk bone for other interesting but not as interesting as what you will reward him with things. Toys, an interesting scent, someone walking their dog a few blocks away... Once the dog has generalized that leave it means stop paying attention to what ever it is that I am paying attention to... and he 100% KNOWS the command. Then I would put on the e collar and practice with super hard core distractions. Using the stim when he decides not to comply to the leave it. Some distractions might need a higher stim than others.

That's in a nutshell how I use it. Not the only way to skin a cat, but it works for me and the dogs I have used it on.

E collars are great. Precision tools. They take some getting used to and practice with timing. I tend to be a DIYer but if it is your first time using an e collar finding a GOOD trainer well versed in them is invaluable for on the spot feed back until you get the hang of it.

Last edited by voodoolamb; 08-05-2017 at 02:34 AM.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 02:58 AM
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To add to what voodoolamb posted -

If your goal is to have a great (safe) time hiking and camping, and your puppy is only 5 months old, you're at a nearly perfect age to teach and reinforce the behaviors that you DO want.

Pick a noise - a specific whistle, a sharp "PSSSSSt", something that is not your formal obedience "Come" command, and a noise you're not using for something else. Load that noise with food or produce a toy, whatever motivates your dog. Make that noise randomly when your puppy is sniffing around the yard, or looking out the window, or not actively engaged with you. If you load it and reinforce it consistently, that noise will become your trail command for "Hey you, you're too far ahead! Hey you, hurry up! Hey you, look at me!" Done well, this won't screw up, confuse, or muddy your obedience commands for sport or training.

Skip breakfast, and take your dog on breakfast picnics to areas with squirrels and birds and whatever else you have access to. In all weather. If the puppy can't ignore the critters and smells to eat its meal, too bad - pack the food up and keep walking.

I prep puppies for hiking off leash on a flat collar with a long line. Horse lead ropes work great - tie a knot in the end. Let the puppy drag the rope. If it gets too far ahead, step on the rope (the knot will act as an emergency break). Puppy gets head-checked. On the other hand, when the puppy is ambling along at a nice close distance, there is no pressure on the collar at all, no sense of human control on the other end of the leash. I don't use a heel command for hiking - all I care about is that the dog is aware of my location and stays in mental contact with me.

After you clearly train your puppy and reinforce the desirable behaviors you DO want, proofing those behaviors can follow.

If you jump straight into blasting a dog for romping off, before it understands with clarity what is supposed to be going on, you can end up with weird "hot lava" behavior where the dog is freaked out unless glued to your hip. I've seen it.

5 months is an awesome age to raise a hiking buddy... hope you have lots of good times.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 03:00 AM
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It was for a pretty specific circumstance. Chasing livestock. At the time I had a pack of hunting dogs and several places we hunted were cattle pastures. I couldn't have the dogs chasing the cows for multiple reasons but one was their own safety. A big bull or group of cows can easily injure or kill a dog. That being said, to me, the risk of the dog being injured or killed outweighed the few moments of discomfort the dogs got learning not to chase certain animals.

I understand you and I had different training goals when we used the tool. Proofing for sport or obedience is a little different than training a hunting dog which animal he can and can't chase. And trust me, those dogs worked thru far more grievous injuries than a shock from a collar.

Now, returning to op, in my opinion I think an e collar can be the perfect tool to break the chasing. I won't use it to train sit or down but here I don't see the problem. Stim settings are user choice but I prefer to get it done and over with, sort of like pulling a bandaid off. If you choose to buzz him over and over until you find the stim setting he respects then it's your business. I won't judge anyone for how they train their dog.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 03:08 AM
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IME a critical part of e collar training is teaching the dog that it is, in a way, in control of the stim.
I meant to address this specifically and forgot. Difference in theories I guess. For me I want the collar to be a safer way of showing the dog "whoa! That was a bad idea" rather than learning thru getting trampled by a cow. Or in another example say digging. An old coworker of mine had this Rhodesian ridgeback dog that would dig to China if you'd let it. Tore up his nice lawn in no time. He tried everything. Those stupid garlic sprays or whatever it is they sell at pet stores, giving him stern no's and rewarding him for listening (which actually worked as long as the dog saw him) but none of them really worked 100%. A few pops from that e collar when he started to dig (guy was inside looking out of the sliding glass door) and the dog stopped digging. I guess the point I'm trying to make is there's more than one way, and one line of thinking for how a tool can be used.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 03:14 AM
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Originally Posted by thegooseman90 View Post
It was for a pretty specific circumstance. Chasing livestock. At the time I had a pack of hunting dogs and several places we hunted were cattle pastures. I couldn't have the dogs chasing the cows for multiple reasons but one was their own safety. A big bull or group of cows can easily injure or kill a dog. That being said, to me, the risk of the dog being injured or killed outweighed the few moments of discomfort the dogs got learning not to chase certain animals.

I understand you and I had different training goals when we used the tool. Proofing for sport or obedience is a little different than training a hunting dog which animal he can and can't chase. And trust me, those dogs worked thru far more grievous injuries than a shock from a collar.

Now, returning to op, in my opinion I think an e collar can be the perfect tool to break the chasing. I won't use it to train sit or down but here I don't see the problem. Stim settings are user choice but I prefer to get it done and over with, sort of like pulling a bandaid off. If you choose to buzz him over and over until you find the stim setting he respects then it's your business. I won't judge anyone for how they train their dog.
Part of the problem I see with this technique for teaching a dog not to chase wildlife is that it will be difficult for the OP to set up scenarios to train the dog. Cows are pretty much always going to be in the same pasture every day - easy to do enough repetitions so the dog gets it. Sometimes on a hike you scare up wildlife. Sometimes you don't I can literally go weeks of 3 times weekly off leash nature hikes without my dog finding something to give chase to. The training opportunities are few and far between.

Teaching leave it and proofing it well can be used immediately on that first camping trip if need be. Personally if I were camping with my dog I would not want to be training new behaviors on that trip.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 04:27 AM
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I can understand that. I was speaking more to the cats he/she mentioned being chased. A leave it command works good when they're in sight, and they may be the entire hike, I have no way to know. I needed my dogs to "leave it" when out of my sight too which was 90% of the hunt. Different scenarios and maybe they don't relate. But at least for chasing the cats I think it can cross over.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 07:07 AM
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Lou castle has a good website that gives step by step instructions for a novice. A few people here don't care for Lou. But, I have trained my dogs recall using his method and I trust that under any circumstances. And I agree that teaching the dog that it controls the stim and using stim that is appropriate to the dog is the way to go.
My father has used e-collar with his hunting dogs for years and we were talking one day about lou's methods and they weren't really far off from how the coon hunters use e-collars.
One of the guys that work for me uses his e-collar in a fashion where he puts it on his dog, dog does something he doesn't like dog gets a high zap. So as long as the dogs are wearing the collar dogs listen great. Collar is off dogs do whatever. Shoot he said that the one dog "a little Husky mix" can tell when the collar is not powered. Either off or dead battery. Collar conditioning is important also.
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