Knowing when to turn up the stimulation level
December 12, 2022
If there is one thing that most people obsess over it is what level to use on their e-collar. Being aware of the stimulation level you are using is critical. Many owners get fixated staring at their dials and not watching their dog’s reactions.
The analogy I use for clients is the coffee shop vs. the concert. If you and I were at a quiet coffee shop my voice would reflect the volume of the environment. Quiet and calm because you would have no problem hearing me. But if you and I went to a concert, I would have to yell in order for you to hear me. It’s not that I’m mad at you, it’s just that you simply cannot hear me over the volume of the environment.
This is the same when it comes to training our dogs.
If you are at home training with your dog in the backyard with no distractions, your dog will more than likely to respond to their working levels, which is the lowest level of stimulation they can detect. That’s the coffee shop scenario. If suddenly a squirrel climbed over your fence and sprinted past your dog; now you’ve entered the concert scenario and you’re inevitably going to dial up the stimulation. Not because you’re mad at your dog, simply because they can’t hear you anymore.
The reason for increasing the stimulation, is not because you are mad at your dog, it’s simply because they can’t hear you anymore due to the distraction.
When our dogs encounter more exciting stimulus in the environment, their bodies can increase cortisol/adrenaline which basically cancels out the static stimulation they are feeling. So when your dog who typically responds to a level 5 might need to be at a level 10 or greater for him/her to notice the e-collar stimulation.
DISCLAIMER! The following advice is only to be used if your dog is already proficient at the behavior you are asking and if they have been conditioned to e-collar stimulation.
My advice to owners is to dial up stimulation until you see a change in your dog’s behavior. Always starting at your dog’s working level, say your command and deliver stimulation through either the Nick/Momentary or Constant button. If your dog is at a concert, then start to slowly dial up until your dog begins to detect stimulation again. Try not to look at the numbers as you dial up, just look at your dog and watch their response. This will help guide you on when to stop increasing stimulation or when to offer assistance to your dog. When using Constant stimulation, remember all Dogtra e-collars have a safety feature that shuts off stimulation if you depress the Constant button for longer than 10 seconds.
Once your dog responds to the stimulation make sure to turn your level back down. Most of the time once your dog leaves the concert scenario they re-enter the coffee shop mentality quickly and you want your stimulation level to represent that change.
This can be very difficult for most owners because we are always thinking in terms of numbers and levels. Instead watch your dog, let their response and their mindset lead you to the appropriate level. This also means taking the time to get really good at dialing up and down quickly as most dogs use a variety of levels throughout a training session. The more proficient you are at this skill, the better you will become at reading your dog at implementing the stimulation in any environment. Check out www.dogtra.com for more training tips.