Nick, Constant, or Pager....Which Button Should You Use? (Part 2 of 2)
This brings us to the use of stimulation and how varied those applications can be.
Momentary (or Nick) stimulation, as mentioned previously, is a very brief duration of sensation. A fraction of a second is all that is felt with an individual button push. For new e-collar users there may be an advantage of using the Nick button while honing timing and training skills. Using this predetermined duration of stim reduces the chances of overcorrecting by pressing the button for too long of a period of time.
Momentary stim allows the user to mark an exact moment in time with a brief pulse of static. The momentary mark is an easy way to indicate the moment of mistake to the dog. For instance, a quick tap when a dog breaks a stay command followed by immediately getting them back into the correct position. Multiple pulses with the Nick button can prolong the sensation in a staccato type of cadence which can be used if it takes a few taps to get the dog back into correctness. This cadence of momentary stim can also prompt the mildly distracted dog into focus without having to turn the intensity dial up.
The Continuous button provides a repeated wave pattern of stimulation for the duration that the button is depressed. I visualize it as a rapid drumming sensation. Again, the strength of sensation is dependent on the intensity dial setting and the dog’s perception. I have found that most dogs will notice the Continuous stimulation at a LOWER intensity setting (due to the multiple pulses occurring) than they would a single Momentary pulse, so adjust your dial accordingly as you learn the differences in how your dog perceives the various sensations.
Both the momentary button and continuous features are useful for assisting in teaching and enforcing obedience behaviors using negative reinforcement techniques. The key in early training is to use levels of stim that are just enough to be noticed or mildly annoying, while low enough not to overwhelm or cause concern.
As for how I train with the remote, there are differences depending on the dog and what I am attempting to achieve. But, I’d like to share a few go to techniques that you might find helpful.
Reminder: with ALL of these suggestions, the dog should have some e-collar conditioning prior to any problem solving approaches.
The Continuous button used at a low level, nagging sensation can bring awareness to “unconscious” type behaviors that you want to interrupt. Whining, for example, is one of those behaviors that dogs do without really realizing they are doing it. Similar to humans drumming their nails, it is an interruptible behavior that can diminish in frequency if you consistently bring awareness to it.
The momentary button is ideal for prompting a known behavior if you have to repeat a command a second time to a dog that is distracted by things in their environment.
A few seconds on the continuous button will typically lift the head of a dog that has his nose glued to a fascinating smell that has distracted him from the task he is supposed to be focused on.
If you don’t want to turn up the intensity dial, you can try several pulses of the Nick button. Often times, it will be enough of a unique change of sensation to overcome moderate distractions and regain attention.
Using the momentary button at double the strength the normal or “working intensity,” generally creates a startle response. I use this technique only for situations where I want to create avoidance to an inanimate object that the dog is about to demonstrate an undesirable behavior toward (i.e. poop eating, urine marking, garbage raiding)
My word counter is just shy of 1600 words with this article, so congratulations if you’ve read this far! I could go on, but for now let’s suffice it to say that the remote collar is likely the most versatile tool we currently have available for training!
Keep growing your knowledge and working with your dog.
For Part 1: https://www.dogtra.com/blog-and-events/which-button-should-you-use