E-Collar Introduction

Written by PAT NOLAN
 

Congratulations on the purchase of your new Dogtra Electronic Training collar (e-collar). Take a few minutes and read your owner's manual to familiarize yourself with the features of your new collar. Be sure to charge your collar the recommended length of time before your first use.

This manual is intended to help get you started training. To download a complete basic obedience manual, including information on stopping problem behavior, go to http://www.dogtra.com/.

Your Dogtra e-collar is a safe, reliable, and effective training tool. With it, you can make perfectly timed corrections even at great distances. In addition, the adjustable intensity feature permits you to match the stimulation of the training collar to your dog's temperament and the distraction level of the moment for maximum training efficiency. However, correcting unwanted behavior is only a fraction of what you can do with your e-collar.

Your Dogtra e-collar can be a powerful tool for encouraging desired responses from your dog. But first, you must identify an e-collar intensity setting for your dog that is high enough to be noticed but not so high as to be disruptive. Then, your dog must learn to act in response to the e-collar and that he can, by his actions, control it.

You will find this method of e-collar training is even gentler than many traditional leash-training methods. Additionally, the e-collar improves communication by providing instant feedback to your dog during training. This reduces confusion, fosters a positive training attitude, and accelerates learning, rapidly producing off-leash reliability.

Even if your dog already knows the basic obedience commands, follow the procedures given. Your dog must learn how to respond to the e-collar for each command before you can use your Dogtra collar for training at a distance.  

 

 Training Guidelines  

Problem solving - Train your dog through the basic obedience program before using your Dogtra e-collar to correct for unwanted behavior. Many problem behaviors will resolve because of obedience training; all unwanted behavior is easier to stop once your dog learns to work for you and in response to the e-collar. See www.dogtra.com for information on problem solving.

Balance - If you use the e-collar for only one response for an extended time, you will have a problem teaching your dog other responses to the e-collar. Put equal emphasis on all the commands to keep a good balance of responses.

Confinement - Confine your dog to his crate or kennel for at least an hour before training. He will look forward to training and the chance to work with you.

Confine him after training for an hour to allow his lessons to soak in. He will retain more of his lessons and learn faster.

Repetition - Your dog can learn a new command quickly, but many repetitions are required to form new habits. Therefore, train at least five days a week, no more than six. Most dogs will do well with daily sessions of about 20 minutes each. Some high-energy dogs do better on longer sessions and two sessions a day. Begin and end each session with a few minutes of review of the previous lessons learned.

Consistency - Set rules or boundaries for your dog and stick to them. It is unfair to allow your dog to jump up on you one day and then correct him the next for doing the same thing.

During your training and daily interactions with your dog, do not give any commands that you are not prepared to enforce.

Do not be tempted to take the e-collar off to "see if he does it without the collar." This will teach him to be "collar wise," that is, a dog that acts differently with the e-collar on.

Fairness - When teaching a new command, do not apply e-collar stimulation without prior guidance. Introduce each command on leash or line so you can gently guide your dog into the desired response. When your dog understands the command, fade out the leash guidance. You want your dog to choose to respond to the e-collar, not the pull of the leash.

Introduce new commands one at a time. If you introduce several new commands at the same time, your dog may have trouble connecting your praise or correction to a particular response. This slows learning.

Praise - Remember to praise your dog with a pat or scratch, and your voice for good performance. In addition, the chance to retrieve or chase a favorite toy is a powerful reward for many dogs.

Distractions - Introduce new commands in an area free of strong distractions. Your dog will learn faster. However, once he knows a command, gradually increase the strength and nearness of distractions in training. If you want your dog to obey in the most distracting environments, you must train in them.

Distance - Start close; it's easy to guide your dog's response and he can quickly complete an action. Once your dog will respond correctly at short distances, gradually work at greater distances. As you increase distances, train first without distractions, then finally work at long distance near strong distractions.

Teaching time frames - Work on each command in turn. When you meet the stated objectives, move on. You may spend one session or several sessions on a command before advancing.

 

 Getting Started 

Objective 1 - Find the right initial e-collar setting for your dog

There is no "right setting" to start all dogs on the e-collar. Every dog perceives the stimulation from the e-collar slightly differently. Also, as the distraction level of the environment changes you will need to work up and down on the intensity setting dial to get and keep your dog focused on training. But, you need to find a good starting point.

To use the e-collar in early training you need to identify an intensity setting that is high enough that your dog notices it but is not so high that it upsets him.

Bring your dog from confinement to your training area. He should be wearing his e-collar and another collar, either a flat buckle or slip-type collar. Attach a 15-foot line to this collar and not the e-collar. Allow your dog to relax and explore his surroundings.

With the e-collar on your lowest intensity setting, press and release the Nick button. You may see no reaction. Now continue to press and release the Nick button at random, increasing the intensity setting each time. Watch carefully, as the first signs that your dog notices the e-collar are usually subtle. When they first feel the e-collar some dogs stop and look up; others may turn to look over their shoulder or shake their head; some scratch at the collar.

When you see that your dog has noticed the electrical stimulation, stop increasing the intensity setting. After a short pause, press the Nick button again once or twice at this setting to make sure that your dog did, in fact, notice the e-collar. If he did, this will be the introductory or teaching setting for your dog. (Occasionally, once the dog realizes that he feels something from the e-collar you can reduce the setting; do not reduce below the level your dog responds to.)

The most effective intensity setting for teaching with the e-collar is one that is just high enough that your dog notices the e-collar, but not so high that he shows any panic or distress. If panicked by the e-collar stimulation, reduce the setting; if he shows no reaction, increase the setting.

Review

  • Work on a 15-foot line attached to a second collar.
  • Start at your lowest intensity setting. Use no commands.
  • While your dog explores his surroundings, press the Nick button at random while you increase the intensity setting until he notices the e-collar.
  • Repeat once or twice at this setting to make sure he really has noticed the e-stimulation.

Using this initial setting, you will help your dog discover that he can stop the stimulation from the e-collar by moving toward you.

 

 Here 

Objective 1 - Your dog discovers he can turn off the e-collar by moving toward you

Still working on the 15-foot line attached to his other collar and the e-collar intensity set at your introductory level, wait until your dog is engaged in exploring his environment.

Begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button as you gently pull on the line to turn your dog toward you. Stop pressing the Nick button and praise as soon as your dog moves toward you. Release him to return to explore with an "OK." Repeat. Work several of these.

Review

  • Begin to press and release the Nick button without command as you gently pull on the 15-foot line.
  • Stop pressing the Nick button as soon as your dog moves toward you. Praise him. Pause and release him with "OK." Repeat.

Moving on . . . When your dog is consistently moving toward you as soon as he feels the stimulation from the e-collar, you are ready to move on.

 

Objective 2 - Add the command Here

Again, wait until your dog is engaged in exploring his environment.

Command Here in a normal tone of voice and begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button as you gently pull on the line to turn your dog toward you. Stop pressing the Nick button and praise as soon as your dog moves toward you. If he stops before reaching you, start pressing the Nick button and repeat the Here command. Praise him for coming and wait a few moments for him to return to exploring. Repeat.

Work several of these recalls. Remember to praise your dog each time he comes to you before releasing him on "OK" and allowing him to return to exploring. Don't wait to see what he does when you call; begin to press and release the Nick button and add gentle pressure or pull on the line immediately after giving your command.

Stop pressing the Nick button and release the line pressure as soon as your dog starts to move toward you. Your dog discovers that he can stop the e-collar stimulation by coming to you when called.

Review

  • With your dog exploring on the 15-foot line, command Here and begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button. Stop pressing the button as soon as your dog moves toward you. Praise him when he gets to you.
  • Pause before giving an "OK" command to release your dog to return to exploring. Repeat.
  • If your dog doesn't come all the way to you, repeat the command and start pressing the Nick button again.

Moving on . . . You are ready to move on to shaping the Heel response when: 1) your dog responds immediately to your command and e-collar stimulation; 2) he begins to linger near you longer after each recall; and 3) even while he is exploring your dog is mindful of where you are.

 

 Heel 

Now that your dog knows to move toward you in response to the e-collar stimulation,

you can use that to shape the heel. You want him to discover that moving into heel will stop the stimulation.

Heel is not just a position but a relationship. When he is at heel, your dog is to stay by your left side facing the direction you are, his shoulders even with your legs, close but not touching. When you move he should move; when you stop he should sit. Your dog should watch you and stay in position. You should not have to remind him constantly with commands or leash tugs.

Objective 1 - Your dog learns to pay attention to your movements and stay within five feet of you

Imagine a five-foot circle on your left side. Step off on your left foot and begin walking.

Each time your dog moves out of this five-foot circle, move away from him opposite the direction he left the circle and without command begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button. Each time he moves back toward the circle, stop pressing the button.

Always start walking on your left foot. If your dog lags behind outside the five-foot circle, move forward faster and rapidly press and release the Nick button until he moves toward you. Continue walking.

If your dog forges past you, turn right-about when he passes outside the five-foot circle and rapidly press and release the Nick button until he moves toward you. Praise him when he returns and keep moving.

If your dog passes behind you to walk on your right side, keep walking and use your line to pull him back to your left side as you rapidly press and release the Nick button. Stop pressing the button when he is again on your left.

He will quickly learn the five-foot circle and work to stay inside it.

Review

  • Think of an imaginary five-foot circle on your left side.
  • If your dog moves outside this area, move away from him and without command begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button. When your dog moves toward you, stop pressing the button while you continue walking.
    - If your dog forges ahead, turn right-about and begin to press and release the Nick button.
    - If your dog moves wide left, turn right and begin to press and release the Nick button.
    - If your dog lags, increase your speed as you begin to press and release the Nick button.

Moving on . . . When your dog is working to stay inside this five-foot circle, you are ready to add the command Heel and to increase the demands on his attention by reducing the size of your imaginary circle to two feet.

 

Objective 2 - Add the command Heel and shape the heel response

Replace the 15-foot line with your six-foot leash. Start off on your left foot and command Heel each time you start to walk. Every time your dog drifts outside the two-foot circle, move away from him opposite the direction he left the circle, command Heel, and begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button. Stop pressing the button when he turns toward you

Review

  • Step off on your left foot and command Heel each time you start to walk. Command Heel each time you turn away from your dog and begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button.

Moving on . . . When your dog is focusing attention on you and working to stay inside the two-foot circle, he's ready to learn to sit when you stop.

 

 Sit       

Objective 1 - Your dog discovers he can stop the e-collar stimulation by sitting

To Place Your Dog To Sit: Take a short grip on the leash with your right hand and pull up and a bit forward on the leash. At the same time, place your left hand on the dog's back at the loin, thumb toward you, and gently squeeze, pushing down. Use the raised leash to control his front end; use only enough tension to prevent him from swinging away. Squeezing the loin muscles helps to relax them and gives you a better grip, ensuring that you can place the dog into position. Every time you stop at heel, place your dog to sit while rapidly pressing and releasing the Nick button. When you feel him relax his muscles and begin to sit, stop pressing the button.

Review

  • Every time you stop at heel, place your dog to sit, rapidly pressing and releasing the Nick button as you do. Stop pressing the button as soon as you feel your dog relax his muscles and begin to sit.

Moving on . . . When your dog is melting into the sit position as soon as you begin to place him you are ready to add the Sit command.

 

Objective 2 - Add the command Sit

Now every time you stop at heel, command Sit as you begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button and place your dog. When he is sitting as soon as he hears the command, you can stop placing him. If your dog balks or stops halfway down, resume rapidly pressing the Nick button and place him right away.

Review

  • Command Sit and place your dog as you begin to press and release the Nick button.
  • Command Sit and without placing, begin to press and release the Nick button.
  • If your dog balks or stops halfway down, place him right away.

Moving on . . . Practice enough repetitions (10-15 a session) so that your dog is sitting quickly on command. From now on, have him sit every time you stop at heel. You want this to become a deeply ingrained habit.

 

 Kennel or Place 

On the command Kennel or Place, your dog shall go away from you to a designated spot and stay there.

This is a very useful command. First, it balances out e-collar response. The Here and Heel commands both ask for movement toward you, and Sit is initially taught by your side, but the Kennel command requires your dog to move away from you in response to the e-collar. In the house, the command is useful to send and anchor your dog.

To start, use the bottom half of an airline shipping crate. Many dogs are familiar with these crates and the crate sides help direct the dog into the proper spot. As soon as he is kenneling on command we will flip the crate half over and use it as a raised platform. If you do not have a shipping crate, any visible target that is big enough for your dog to get comfortable on will work.

Once he knows the command well you can substitute anything he can see as a target for Kennel.

 

Objective 1 - Your dog discovers he can turn off the e-collar stimulation by getting in the crate 

Walk with your dog on leash toward the open end of the kennel. As you approach, shorten your grip on the leash to make it hard for your dog to avoid the crate. When you are about two feet from the crate opening, begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button. Continue walking and pass on the right side of the crate to put your dog in line with the opening. When your dog is in the kennel, stop pressing the button.

After a short pause, step back to face the open end of the crate and call your dog out. Praise him for coming and walk him off the spot. Take a short break before returning to Kennel him again.

 

Objective 2 - Add the command Kennel

When your dog is quickly stepping into the crate as soon as you begin to press the Nick button and he doesn't need leash guidance, add the command Kennel as you approach. Use the same approach and walk-up you have been doing, but now just before you begin to press the Nick button, command Kennel.

Moving on . . . When your dog willingly enters the crate on your command Kennel and in response to the e-collar stimulation, you are ready for the next step.

 

Objective 3 - Your dog learns to move away from you to the crate on the command Kennel

Now on your walk up to the crate, stop about two feet from the crate and give the Kennel command as you begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button. When your dog willingly leaves your side to enter the crate, flip the crate over and have him kennel on top of the crate, not into the crate. Repeat until he is comfortable with this change. Now, gradually increase the distance you send your dog to the crate.

 

Review

  • Walk your dog into the kennel as you rapidly press and release the Nick button from two feet away.
  • Add the Kennel command.
  • Send your dog from two feet away to the kennel.

When you first flip the crate over take a few minutes and walk your dog on top just as you did when you introduced the command.

 

 Training Overview 

Our goal is that our dogs respond reliably to command - not to the e-collar - off leash around distractions. When teaching any command with your Dogtra e-collar follow this sequence:

Teach the desired action - Your dog learns what you want him to do.

Rapidly press and release the Nick button and guide your dog into the desired response. Stop pressing the button as soon as your dog completes the action.

Add a command - Your dog learns when you want him to do it.

In this stage, continue to rapidly press and release the Nick button every time you give the command and stop when your dog begins to obey. This rewards your dog every time he chooses to obey, and ensures the fastest learning.

However, if you continue to reinforce every command with the e-collar and then abruptly stop using the

e-collar stimulation for this command, your dog's trained response will fade quickly. If you were to stop your work at this point, your dog would be e-collar dependent. To prevent this:

Phase out the e-collar - Your dog learns to want to do what you want him to do.

Once the dog knows the proper response to a command and has many repetitions (several weeks of daily training using the new command), begin to use the e-collar stimulation on every other command, then two in a row, then every third, and so on.

By using the e-collar stimulation on a variable schedule, your dog never knows which repetition of a command will be reinforced, so he learns to work harder and faster even when you don't press the Nick button as you give the command.. He becomes obedient to your command, not the e-collar.

Finally, stop using the e-collar on the command and only add stimulation for disobedience or refusals.

If your dog takes the absence of the e-collar stimulation or the presence of a distraction as an excuse to disobey a known command, repeat the command and begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button.

Any time your dog refuses a known command, never repeat the command without adding e-collar stimulation. If disobedience to a known command only results in another command, your dog is no more likely to obey that command in the future.

During training, do not give any commands when your dog is not wearing the e-collar.

If you give commands when you are unable to control the results of your dog's actions you are teaching your dog that obedience to command is optional. Dogs aren't naturally "collar wise" - they are taught that.

 

 

 Dogtra Pager Training Tool

Why does a dog bark when he hears the doorbell? Is he barking to tell you the doorbell is ringing? Of course not. He is barking because there are visitors at the door. Does he need to see the visitors before he responds? Of course not. He has learned from experience that the ring of the doorbell reliably signals the arrival of guests.

When a dog first hears the doorbell, it means nothing to him. Through repetition, he learns to expect visitors at the door when the doorbell rings. The doorbell becomes a cue or warning signal.

How does this apply to training with the Pager Training Tool?

When your dog first feels the vibration of the pager, it means nothing to him. He must learn the pager/vibration is a warning (just like the doorbell) that signals low-level electrical stimulation will follow. Soon, your dog will respond to the pager and not wait for the electrical stimulation - just like a dog responds to the doorbell and does not have to see the visitor at the door. Then you can use the pager/vibration by itself, without the electrical stimulation, to reinforce obedience and correct undesirable behavior.

 

Making the pager/"Nick" connection

Before you begin training with the pager, follow the steps given on page 3 for identifying the proper initial e-collar electrical intensity setting for your dog.

Start in an area of low-level distraction. Your dog should be wearing his e-collar, set at the proper initial intensity setting, and a choke chain or flat buckle collar. Attach a long, light line to this second collar. Allow your dog to relax and explore his surroundings.

Push down and hold the pager button on the transmitter. Watch carefully, as the first sign that your dog notices the pager/vibration may be subtle. When they first feel the pager/vibration some dogs stop and look up; others may turn to look over their shoulder or shake their head; some may appear startled. When you see that your dog noticed the vibration, release the pager button and begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button as you give your verbal command "Here" with slight tension on the line. As soon as your dog moves toward you, stop pressing the button and praise him. When he gets to you, praise him and then give him a release command, such as "OK." Allow your dog to relax and return to exploring the area. Repeat.

As your dog gains experience with the pager, shorten the length of time you hold down the pager button. When you have paired the pager with the stimulation from the Nick button many times you will find your dog starting to respond before you can begin to press the Nick button. He has shown you he understands the vibration from the pager means the stimulation from the Nick button is sure to follow. At this point, stop using the Nick button after the pager.

 

Training with the pager

Once your dog understands that the pager predicts the Nick, all training strengthens this association. When he responds properly to a command and the pager, he avoids the Nick and receives praise. This reinforces both the desired response and his knowledge that he can avoid the Nick.

When your dog fails to respond to the pager, ALWAYS repeat the command and begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button as you guide or lure your dog into the desired response. This reinforces the desired response and his knowledge that he must act when he feels the pager to avoid the Nick.

Follow the instructions at the front of this manual to teach your dog Here, Heel, Sit, and Kennel. When the instructions say to "rapidly press and release the Nick button," push and hold the pager button until your dog responds. If he fails to respond within two seconds, release the pager button and begin to rapidly press and release the Nick button..

Follow the steps outlined on page 8 and 9 to train with and phase out the use of your pager training tool.

When your dog refuses a known command, never repeat the command without adding the pager/ vibration; if he does not respond to the pager, always follow up by rapidly pressing and releasing the Nick button.

Review

  • Identify the proper initial electrical intensity setting on the e-collar for your dog.
  • Closely pair the end of the pager sensation with the start of the stimulation from the Nick button.
  • Use the pager in training.
  • Maintain the strength of the pager/Nick association by following the pager with the stimulation from the Nick button as needed.

 

For more training information, including techniques for solving many common behavior problems, go to http://www.dogtra.com. On the Dogtra site, you can download a complete illustrated basic obedience training manual by Pat Nolan of http://www.PonderosaKennels.com.