E-collars, is it cheating? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 03-31-2017, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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E-collars, is it cheating?

Was watching some very impressive work recently at a club when I heard somebody from the side grumble "I'd like to see him do that without the e-collar".
So I asked the guy what he meant, he said that e-collars are cheating and a shortcut and a hundred years ago they would get the same behaviors without the use of them. Personally I see them as a technological advancement, like computers and cars and such where we no longer have to count on our hands and ride horse and buggy's.
I told a trainer about this and he said that while he uses e-collars he also kind of sees it as a shortcut because dog training is an art, and some of the best trainers in the world don't need them.
What do you guys think?
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 03-31-2017, 10:47 PM
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No, you don't need them. And, I think training is a journey. And the reward is not a passed trial or a blue ribbon, but a dog that can reliably follow commands after years of not training them. The reward is a bond between the dog and the owner. I don't like taking shortcuts to get from here to there, because the process is its own reward and the cementing of the behavior.

And I personally feel that we are asking a critter to do what the human wants to live with humans in a way appropriate to a human's lifestyle, or to work with humans. This shouldn't be done by a fear of a correction -- dogs do not like being shocked. Neither do I. An electric wire -- electric fence that the dog can see, he learns that it isn't pleasant to touch that and he won't. That at least is fair. The dog learns the boundary, can see it, and can avoid it if he chooses. An e-collar is on their neck and they cannot avoid shocks unless they figure out what you want and what you don't want. And then, they do it to avoid unpleasantness, instead of doing what you do want because you know how to motivate the dog.

Yeah, I really don't like prong collars either. I don't like and won't use either. My choice. I will not support a ban of either. I just see them as unnecessary, and in some cases counter-productive.

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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 03-31-2017, 11:17 PM
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I use an ecollar for remote type correction...blind searches and out when a line is not long enough during the protection phase of IPO . Communication instead of verbal. It does not have to be harsh, but just a nick to remind. If you go over the dogs threshold it is just as bad as yelling, yelling when a whisper can do the same and get results.

But, my dog learned early on so the collar was faded quickly. And NO I didn't just put it on him willy nilly and push the button. He was trained to it by teaching place, directional type obedience and it benefitted our whole training program.

I see nothing wrong with using it, it is black and white to the dog, no nagging or emotion is included. But it has to be used fairly and with excellent timing.
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 04-01-2017, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by selzer View Post
No, you don't need them. And, I think training is a journey. And the reward is not a passed trial or a blue ribbon, but a dog that can reliably follow commands after years of not training them. The reward is a bond between the dog and the owner. I don't like taking shortcuts to get from here to there, because the process is its own reward and the cementing of the behavior.

And I personally feel that we are asking a critter to do what the human wants to live with humans in a way appropriate to a human's lifestyle, or to work with humans. This shouldn't be done by a fear of a correction -- dogs do not like being shocked. Neither do I. An electric wire -- electric fence that the dog can see, he learns that it isn't pleasant to touch that and he won't. That at least is fair. The dog learns the boundary, can see it, and can avoid it if he chooses. An e-collar is on their neck and they cannot avoid shocks unless they figure out what you want and what you don't want. And then, they do it to avoid unpleasantness, instead of doing what you do want because you know how to motivate the dog.

Yeah, I really don't like prong collars either. I don't like and won't use either. My choice. I will not support a ban of either. I just see them as unnecessary, and in some cases counter-productive.
I'm not supporting the use of them, but I don't think you really understand how they work. It doesn't really shock them on the lowest setting, it's more of a vibration or a "buzz" to snap them out it. They should be only used as the last resort when the dog already knows the command, and is not responding to traditional corrections. Some trainers don't feed their dogs for 2 days to get them to comply, what's worse?
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 04-01-2017, 12:10 AM
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It is another way of speaking to the dog. Each tool has a purpose but the end goal should be to get the dog off the tools and working with its owner or handler. No tool is perfect and none are as bad as the critics say. A very good handler won't need those tools for obedience, but for off leash and distance work, maybe. Or to undo bad habits which a dog has been taught.
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 04-01-2017, 12:17 AM
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LuvShepherds really took the words out of my mouth. And I do agree with Selzer that training is a journey, too. I don't think everyone can take the same approach, so I don't look at using different tools to get a desired result as cheating when all trainers do have access to them. It's a personal choice to use them, and people are welcome to train without needing one. But I wouldn't condemn someone for having a perfectly trained dog just because I see an e-collar on them in a training session. So long as the dog's overall health and mental well being is the utmost importance, then I'm fine with most training methods. It's when the result of training trumps the health and well being of a dog that I get my knickers in a knot.
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 04-01-2017, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julian G View Post
I'm not supporting the use of them, but I don't think you really understand how they work. It doesn't really shock them on the lowest setting, it's more of a vibration or a "buzz" to snap them out it. They should be only used as the last resort when the dog already knows the command, and is not responding to traditional corrections. Some trainers don't feed their dogs for 2 days to get them to comply, what's worse?
Actually, that's not true. There are separate functions on many ecollars that offer a vibrate setting. But a low stim is still a stim. Also, I wouldn't say they are a "last resort." They have many uses. They can be used for distance work, proofing, or simply because a dog responds better to that particular tool than others. The important thing is that the dog is properly taught what the ecollar correction means.
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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 04-01-2017, 12:28 AM
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I had a trainer teach me how to use the ecollar. We had used it sheep herding on the get outs. The ecollar has as allowed me to have Max who has a high prey drive off leash on certain occasions and places and to keep him safe as I can with giving him some freedom. Presently I don't even need to use it but only serves as back up. He has now ignored cats/ deer all off leash without using the ecollar.
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 04-01-2017, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GypsyGhost View Post
Actually, that's not true. There are separate functions on many ecollars that offer a vibrate setting. But a low stim is still a stim. Also, I wouldn't say they are a "last resort." They have many uses. They can be used for distance work, proofing, or simply because a dog responds better to that particular tool than others. The important thing is that the dog is properly taught what the ecollar correction means.
I think of the lowest setting as the vibrate function, not the lowest shock setting. The question is, is it cheating because back in the day trainers would get the same behavior through other means? I think it's more humane in a lot of ways than popping the prong collar, lord knows what they did a hundred years ago to get their dogs to comply but I'm sure it wasn't pretty.
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 04-01-2017, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Julian G View Post
I think of the lowest setting as the vibrate function, not the lowest shock setting. The question is, is it cheating because back in the day trainers would get the same behavior through other means? I think it's more humane in a lot of ways than popping the prong collar, lord knows what they did a hundred years ago to get their dogs to comply but I'm sure it wasn't pretty.
The vibrate fuction should definitely not be seen as a lower correction than a stim. Some dogs cannot grasp what a vibration means. I've seen it completely shut a dog down. An actual low stim on the same dog gets the point across in a clear, very black and white way.

And to answer your original question, no I don't think it's cheating to use an ecollar. If it's cheating to use an ecollar, then it's cheating to use a prong, or a slip lead or any other tools you have. Doesn't matter that it's a newer tool than some of the others.
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