By Robin MacFarlane
As a professional dog trainer I find it wise to avoid thinking in terms of absolutes. Always and Never are words that have gotten most of us into trouble from time to time. Just when you believe something will Always work…you end up finding out otherwise.
I know I’ve certainly found that to be the case when it comes to training dogs. Most of my answers to training questions start with the words “it depends on…”. However, when it comes to considering adding a remote collar to your dog’s training protocol, I am going to risk it and share a list of Always and Nevers for you to follow.
Six Absolutes About Using a Remote Collar for Training Your Dog:
1. Never purchase a remote collar as a “last resort” because you are frustrated with your dog and you are ready to “show him once and for all”. That kind of thinking is not what you build a great relationship on. Instead, purchase a remote collar because you are ready to invest the time and energy teaching your dog what you expect and building a better partnership.
2. Always start your collar conditioning in an area with few distractions. This allows you to use the lowest possible setting to get your dog’s attention and teach your dog how to respond properly to the commands and stimulation. After you have completed the collar conditioning process then you can begin working in more distracting environments with higher challenges present.
3. Never assume your dog will automatically understand how to respond to the stimulation. Even if your dog has had lots of training with other tools and methods previously, the first time you use the e-collar is still the first time your dog has any experience with it. You must start at the beginning and do the e-collar conditioning. We wouldn’t expect an English professor to automatically know how to read Chinese either…there is a learning curve involved!
4. Never begin e-collar conditioning off leash. Your dog does not automatically know how to respond to the stimulation so a leash or dragline ensures you have a way to assist and help your dog be successful.
5. Always be in the right frame of mind when you are working with your dog. If your attitude is one of frustration or anger, it will travel down the leash. If you are uncertain about how to use any training equipment, get educated. We wouldn’t consider buying great tools to fix our car if we had no idea how the engine is put together so take some time to learn about your dog’s mind. Learn how he perceives and processes information, then use your new knowledge to practice with patience and a positive attitude.
6. Always incorporate rewards into your dog’s training. A retrieve, food, some freedom, your praise and affection, these are all things dogs find rewarding. We all work and perform to improve our situations in life. So does your dog. If he understands what he gets in return for behaving appropriately he will be an enthusiastic and willing partner.
There you have it. Those are six keys I will solidly stand behind as the Always and Never rules of remote collar training. Beyond that, pretty much everything falls in the category response of “it depends”.
Happy Training ~ Robin
Robin McFarlane is a professional dog trainer from Dubuque Iowa. Robin specializes in all breed dog training, emphasizing obedience and the proper use of the e-collar. For more information on her and her business, see http://www.thatsmydog.com
Her very popular DVD’s “Just Right” a step by step guide to e-collar training, can be purchased at http://www.thatsmydogstore.com