So today was Zelda and my first session with the e-collar trainer.
I thought about e-collar for probably over half a year now? I looked it up, Lou Castle's method is what changed my mind on the e-collar debate. I bought the dogtra 1900ncp, but when it came down to it i didnt feel like i should slap it on and do it myself. I slapped it on myself, and my human family companions to find their working levels, but i didn't feel comfortable doing it to Zelda. So i wen't on a search AGAIN for e-collar trainer. Came back around to one, and talked to her on phone, e-mail, checked out her training style, asked other people about it (from here and people i know in person) and i decided to go for it.
How it wen't:
Upon arriving, we entered her house with Zelda's muzzle on, Zelda first saw her and barked, i got her to calm down as we approached the couch, and she laid down next to me, the trainer came in, ignored her, gave her space, gave her the shoulder. And we talked, and wen't over her extensive information packet/history packet of Zelda with me. We also discussed training, and any questions. After going through that she sent us across her grassy lawn into a big parking lot across from her house. Where we walked slowly. Zelda was on my left, she came up to my right (without Zelda realizing) And she took over the leash, and began walking with Zelda.
The trainer wanted to find her working level, and to be sure that Zelda "got it" before she totally gave it over to me. They wen't about 150 feet away from me, and she took Zelda's muzzle off and adjusted her e-collar a bit. And began again. She called me over so that i could do the leash heel part, while she did the remote, she told me when to turn, when to not and to tighten the leash. Communicating with her and giving her direction.
Basically letting her know that she can turn the pressure off. Eventually i took over everything, and once my timing was good we moved on to the commands. OFF and COME.
Off meant to not do whatever it is she is doing, can be used for treats, cats, jumping, etc.
And Come is obvious, but again, guiding her into me, and luring with a treat, as well as a nick or cont. if she was not coming into me, also being an exciting target to reach. At this point she was really tired. So she kept blowing me off, so we ended on a good note for that.
She brought out her dog as distraction. And Zelda at first was paying attention and wanting to go to her dog, but at decently low levels i was able to guide her to heel with me and ignore the dog.
It makes sense now, its all clear cut. I'm telling her what not to do and what to do. And she is in control of it. Any command i say comes with a nick, a low level nick at first, and she turns it off, as soon as she starts to get on the path to listening to it, if she goes off again i guide her back and stim her. And for good behavior, especially if not even guided or asked for, such as; ignoring a distraction or doing ab beautiful turn with our heeling, she gets rewarded with treats and praise.
My biggest worry with e-collar training, is that i am going to do it wrong, and that she is going to become a neurotic mess or distrust me.
If this goes right, she should have a lot more confidence and actually have a better more trustworthy relationship with me.
I told the trainer my fears, my thoughts, and what some of my friends from work or a dog trainer friend (who uses on positive methods) thought of e-collar, and how that kind of sticks in your head. For the most part what she said reassured me, and i feel okay doing her method- it seems pretty close to Lou Castle. I know she wen't to UK to meet with trainers not too long ago, i know that Tyler Muto came here to meet with her for shared training and to learn from each other. I know she knows lots of different trainers, she did hear of Lou Castle methods before.
So basically this first week is a constant micromanaging of Zelda. So, to be honest, not looking forward to it, but if it means great results in the long run, than totally worth it!
I consented her taking a picture and putting it up on her facebook, this is what she said of Zelda, "Zelda came in to start her Perfect Pet Package today. Such a beautiful Shepherd who came in on muzzle and left a tired, relaxed friendly dog. We had a great time playing and training today. Zelda's a very fearful reactive dog but seeing her true colors today after lots of training goes to show that she needs a lot of information, guidance, patience and confidence boosting. Zelda reminds me of my board and train, Sadie. Both are great dogs once you earn their trust with so much love to offer the world. With the right training they'll be well on their way to sharing that love!"
Wish us luck!
Any thoughts, ideas or comments?
(i'm sure i left out plenty of info.)