Recognizing Confusion When Using Static Stimulation
November 18, 2022 Category: Trainer Tips
Let me paint a picture, you are out on a hike with your dog and you ask them to recall to you. Your dog is on an e-collar and you are around their average working level. Recall is a skill you have practiced some and your pup has been mostly successful in low distraction environments. You call your dog and your pup lifts their head, glances back at their collar, and then scoots forward (away from you) another 10 feet. You start to increase the level and repeat your recall command. Fido stops sniffing the ground, lets out a big yawn, sits and begins to scratch at the unit.
What do you think? Is your dog being difficult and not listening? Are they being a jerk and blowing you off?
No! All of the above descriptions depict a dog who is confused and needs a helping hand.
Reading your dog while utilizing a remote training collar is a skill that must be obtained so that we can be most fair to our dogs. Here are some indicators that your dog might not fully understand how to respond to e-collar stimulation or that the level you are using is too high or potentially too low:
- Offering other behaviors (sitting down or laying down)
- Moving away from you
- Scratching at the collar
- Lip licking
- Sharp glances back towards the e-collar
During these moments of confusion, it is important to take a step back and help your dog out. Utilize your training tools such as the leash to guide your dog/assist or with verbal cues to get your dog on the right track. If it is safe to do so, continue using stimulation while you offer assistance. Then release at the stimulation the moment your dog commits to the correct command/behavior. If your dog is actively moving away from the stimulation STOP using it and attempt to recall without the use of e-collar stimulation.
Always keep in mind that the environment in which you are training plays a big role in how your dog will react to e-collar stimulation. If your dog is still new to using a remote training collar, it is best to drag to drag a long leash/rope. That way it is easy to assist them in making the correct choice when stimulation is applied. Even if your dog is successful off leash in your backyard, it does not mean they will be instantly successful when you hit the wide open spaces.
Another factor that professional trainers and veterinarians have found can be increased Cortisol levels in your dog during training.
- Cortisol is a hormone that can be released when dogs are being trained and working.
- The amount of Cortisol produced and how it performs, varies from day to day.
- As a dogs Cortisol level surges, a natural resilience to levels of static stimulation from the e-collar will happen. So a level that attained a response one second may not get any reaction seconds later.
It is normal for your dog to be confused when distraction levels change. Being able to see the confusion and help your pup will greatly assist you in your goal of having an off leash reliable dog. In the meantime, continue to practice the behaviors in low to medium distraction environments to ensure your dog is able to generalize the behavior you are asking for. It can be a slow process but working through confusion will pay off immensely! Check out www.dogtra.com for more guidance.