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Ecollars : An Intelligent Discussion

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 11:59pm PST 
Ah, then we have something in common! Mine was a protegee as well, and worked with my crazy dog without much use of force. She was really lovely and laid a terrific foundation for me. I still idolize her and ironically she primed me best for PR. As for Bill, he turned out some really good people.

Your strategy seems sound to me. It's as I said before, you do get to see her reaction. If you don't like it, you stop. Then you know you tried. And if it's ok, then maybe there's horizon for her. She deserves to be a dog. Please keep us posted!

Edited by author Mon Dec 3, '12 12:06am PST

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Tuck

CHIC CH. Tuck- CDX TDX RN VNEX- TDI SAR-W3
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 4:07am PST 
I am in SAR. YES, the E-collar is used in my training. YES, I am on many lists with Lou Castle an yes I have attended his seminars.

The e-collar on vibrate is a steadying hand during training. When the dog is out of touch, out of hearing range, and you are training, the vibrate method often reassures the dog that they did something right. Instead of being anxious about is this right? Is this what you want? they get instant approval or disapproval. With the anxiety out of the way, the dog settles into a steady reliable work pattern.
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Mulder

Spooky Mulder
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 5:40am PST 
He also did not support rewards believe that the reward was in doing the task correctly.

Yeah, well, as much as I love my job, fat chance in you-know-what that i'm going to keep going back each day without a paycheck.

Maybe there are some dogs who are cool with that- in fact, I KNOW there are.

But if you mean to tell me something like a play rewards isn't HYPER reinforcing to a lot of dogs, more so than the ambiguous gratification of "a job well done"... well then I'm sorry, we differ greatly in viewpoint.

My dogs will literally work themselves into the ground for a ball or a tug. Why on earth WOULDN'T I utilize this, and make it so that the end goal is working for that thing they LOVE, rather than working because not working sucks and is annoying/uncomfortable and actually have to have them conditioned via R- that I'm important and need to be focused on/listened to.

What's the point of even having a dog.

I can't speak for these desperate people who need help "like yesterday"... perhaps that's a bigger picture issue about why ignorant people need a better education on selecting dogs and being less impulsive with their decisions... but I don't have those answers, so in those cases I wont comment.

But knowledgeable people who get dogs to work and compete, and living that way with them?

That's certanly not how I want to interact or train with my dogs. I want them to work with me because its FUN. Its REWARDING. Its ENJOYABLE. Not because it sucks not to.

Yuck.

And that's not even a comment on ecollars. That's a comment on anyone who doesn't find value in positively rewarding your dog for the very hard work they do. For all the amazing things these dogs accomplish, how much of THEMSELVES they give for us with everything they do... if you don't think the damn dog deserves a ball or a cookie or WHATEVER for that in the end then I guess I'm sorry, there's no more point in following along with this.
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Tuck

CHIC CH. Tuck- CDX TDX RN VNEX- TDI SAR-W3
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 7:34am PST 
My dogs are rewarded for doing a good job. I believe all Search dogs are.
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Trigger

*Blackdog*
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 7:34am PST 
"The e-collar on vibrate is a steadying hand during training. When the dog is out of touch, out of hearing range, and you are training, the vibrate method often reassures the dog that they did something right. Instead of being anxious about is this right? Is this what you want? they get instant approval or disapproval. With the anxiety out of the way, the dog settles into a steady reliable work pattern."

way to go



I only have a couple of thoughts on the rest of what's been said. One, while training absent of any R+ under the right hands WILL produce a machine of a dog.....that end result is not for everyone and it's fair to argue it's unethical on some (or even many) levels.

I do not believe you can produce a happy, healthy minded dog under those circumstances simply because of what I've seen in the hunt test and field trial arenas. Handlers who are too soft usually end up with low drive goofballs and that equates to sloppy performance (I personally have never seen otherwise but will concede I've obviously not seen "it all"). Handlers who are too hard usually end up with the robots which may indeed be the distinct goal and dream for some....which, whatever floats your boat I suppose - OR - belly crawling cringers.....which, ewww. Handlers offering positive AND negative feedback always seem to have the most well rounded dogs IMHO. The perfect mix of happy, bonded, yet respectful and focused performance.

It's all in what one is after in the end I suppose.


The notion that every dog has the potential to be successfully ecollar trained without negative consequence is interesting to me. I would have NEVER argued that to this crowd before but I'm going to stick a toe in and say that may be true on some level. I look back at mushy puddle on the floor pee every time I touched him Trig....I'd venture to say the additional feedback, added at the right time, with guidance from a professional, actually helped to build his confidence. Most everyone here would have poo-pooed the idea had they met him when he first came home as broken as he was. Quite obviously it didn't break him down further, he grew more confident the more he learned and it's fact that the ecollar was at play during that process.

Not saying that every dog should be ecollar trained, but the notion of *could* isn't that far fetched to me based on my personal experiences.


Last of all, Alva. While I respect that the use of the tool isn't well known or seemingly necessary in your culture, that's kind of a moot point. Culture dictates immediate social norms, culture doesn't dictate world wide norms. There is much that is considered common practice throughout the world that isn't common practice in Finland, or the United States, or any other country or continent. Heck things can vary drastically from just state to state, city to city, county to county, household to household and all the way down to individual to individual. Those differences don't make one party right and the other wrong. When we start trying to dictate social norms on a very broad scale, talking country to country, that's literally how wars are started. The Finnish people have every right to say not for us, what they don't have a right to say is not for EVERYONE. I would never use one cultures social norm to make my argument against another culture entirely. There is just no logical, reasonable or fair way to do such a thing.
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Duncan

Because I'm- Duncan, that's- why

moderator
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 7:36am PST 
Oh sure, Tiller. And besides I never said never.

If I wanted to work a dog in SAR maybe I would use an ecollar. If I had some issue-y dog and had been unsuccessful using other methods, maybe I'd use an ecollar.

I don't have any such situation and am happy to stay away from ecollars.

It's fine with me if other people want to use that tool on their dogs.
Carmel

Diva
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 7:47am PST 
Thank you Tiller and Lou for achieving what others, including myself, have been unable to achieve an intelligent discussion on e-collars. Some of you may remember me as the woman (dog trainer) who several years ago started a discussion on Happy Dogs Training with e-collar in the park. I went down in flames, as most people who have posted on this volatile topic. I still stand by my work that you can achieve happy dogs with this method.

Why am I posting now? I noted that Peekaboo wrote “Do you have any videos of dogs that have been trained on this method? Lou mentioned he does not have any videos of dogs training with e-collars. I use video extensively in my work as a dog trainer. It provides me a visual record to study and improve. It provides my customers who select my Ride & Train and Board & Train program visual daily proof of training that is taking place with their dogs. They are able to see daily progress. Video is a wonderful tool!

I do not wish to be accused of spamming. For those who are interested I’m sure you can search for and find me / my company on the web. I have many videos on my YouTube channel, and some on my website, of me training my dogs, customer’s dogs and customer’s testimonials. I believe Happy Customers and Happy Dogs can be achieved with remote training systems.

As a remote collar trainer, I agree 80% with the educational information that is being provided but I think it’s important for the public to know that each trainer uses this tool in a unique way. That 20% is the unique way. Like a violin you are constantly fine tuning your equipment, and studying the environment, studying the dog’s behavior, and most importantly talking with the pet owner about their goals and what behavior modifications they are seeking. Again, I train pet dogs, have a mobile training service, and work with the public in public. Because I am mobile out there (greater Atlanta area) everyday with my demonstration dogs’ people can see the level of training achieved using this tool. I am also out in public training customer's dogs everyday. This is what I show in my videos.

I appreciate being able to add to this discussion. I’m sorry that I will not be posting any further comments. Because this is such a volatile subject I’ve set boundaries regarding participation in forums and fines this works best for me; but, I thought it important that the video aspect be addressed especially for those of us that are visual learners.

Wishing each and every one a wonderful holiday season.
Mona Cosse
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 7:48am PST 
Mulder wrote, "So you use NO rewards (with few exception) other than a release from stem when training dogs?
It, essentially, is strictly R-?"


From my site, "The articles do not mention praising the dog, except for a few situations in the training where it's specifically necessary. This is not the place to learn to give praise to your dog. This is where you can learn to use the Ecollar. Praise is an integral part of teaching, training and working a dog. It lets the dog know when he's done the right thing. Much Ecollar work is done by letting the dog discover for himself, that he's doing it the right way.

Different dogs need different levels and types of praise. Praise includes verbal praise, toys, treats, bump, tug of war and more. Use whatever works with your dog whenever he needs it. I suggest that you don't use so much praise during the work that your dog "loses his mind" and forgets what you're working on."
[Emphasis Original]

BTW that's another way that the work is tailored to just what the dog needs, that is, "to the individual."

Mulder wrote, "How do you build enthusiasm for the work? How do you make a dog actually enjoy working with the handler, when his only reward is not receiving stem? Do you not believe using a dogs natural drives, such as the desire to play or chase, is an effective method of reinforcing behaviors?"

First, for every press of the button that brings stim, there's a release of the button that stops the stim. The first is punishment, the second is reinforcement. So the training is balanced with a ratio of punishment to reinforcement at a rate of 1:1. That's not enough for most dogs and so I add praise, at least at the ratio of 1:2, usually it's quite a bit more, rising at times to 1:10, according to the dog's needs. The reinforcement that I use is whatever the dog needs and responds to. It can be such things as treats, voice, toys, play or a combinations of these.

Second, remember that most of the dogs I work with are used for searching of one kind or another. The SAR dogs for a variety of missing or lost people and the LE K−9's, it's mostly for hiding criminals. Generally the people that SAR is looking for want to be found and it's the opposite for LE. But sometimes that situation is reversed. EVERYTHING that I do with those dogs is tailored with an eye towards the search. So I teach those dogs OB as part of the search. Most trainers teach OB from the standpoint of "Do it because I said do it ... If you don't I'll cause you some discomfort." That discomfort comes in the form of (for example) leash corrections from those who use them, and in the form of withholding treats, toys, etc., for those who don't.

Once the dog understands what the command means, that I've taught with the Ecollar, I introduce it as part of the search. A dog sits so that he can catch his breath. He downs to stalk his prey. There are genetic based reasons that dogs do the movements of OB in the wild, without commands. I adapt that behavior to the hunt.

A lot of my work, with both the search dogs and pets, has to do with the relationship between the owner/handler and the dog. I want the dog to regard the owner as a fair and just leader. I do not want them to be equals. This is done with many exercises that establish the owner as the leader without conflict. I use such things as leadership walks, food sharing (this is not treat training), and yielding. I base this training on the genetics that has a dog following a leader. I have the owner act as that leader and the dogs just fall into line. A lot of this work goes against what I was taught, and what a lot of people do when praising the dog, but that's another discussion.

Regards, Lou
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 7:48am PST 
Duncan wrote, "Still and all. I think, if I were a dog, I would rather not be trained via a method that (by definition) involves discomfort. I would rather not have to "do right" in order to avoid discomfort or get relief from it. I would rather be trained with rainbows and butterflies. Ooops, I mean rewards of treats, praise, attention, play, etc."

I know that many will be opposed to what I'm about to say. That doesn't make it untrue, just unpopular. I think that training that uses "treats, praise, attention, play, etc." involves just as much discomfort as does training that uses the Ecollar or other aversives. The difference is that the discomfort in the softer methods comes at a time of high excitement levels, and so it's masked. When using aversives, they're delivered when the dog is at rest, and so the signs of the discomfort are obvious.

But this is not always the case. I know dogs that will "wilt" if a treat is withheld. Ditto for the other things that were mentioned. With such dogs, the aversive (the deprivation of the "treats, praise, attention, play, etc." brings the discomfort and most who favor those methods use that technique if the dog does not perform.

At the most basic level, hold up a treat and say "sit." If the dog doesn't sit, he doesn't get the treat. (For those who don't "hold up the treat" don't think that you're immune to this situation. The dog knows that you have treats in your pocket, he can smell them there and/or on your hands).

Showing the dog how to get out of the discomfort that the Ecollar imposes, helps to establish the owner as the leader.

Regards, Lou
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 3, '12 7:50am PST 
G2 wrote,
"the NALC cow trials last 25 minutes, in which the dogs are supposed to move the cattle down a fence line, "bay them up", i.e. hold them in a contained group, put them in a pen, then move them on down to the final holding area. They work in conjunction with the handler who is on horseback. Even in these trials, however, when it's hot, it's acceptable for the dog to go find water & lie down in it to cool off, so it's sort of like real life work from that aspect."


Is this part of the trial timed? If so, won't a dog that goes to get a drink be penalized by the clock?

Earlier I wrote, "Since I don't do herding, I'm at a disadvantage here. Isn't it natural for a dog to focus on the weakest link?"

G2 wrote, "Going after the weakest link is what a predator does - and you don't want your Catahoulas acting like a predator when it comes to moving the cows along."

While I don't believe that dogs descended from wolves, the latest research is that they had a common ancestor. Stop feeding a dog and he'll become a predator/scavenger. So focusing on the "weakest link" comes natural to them. Even if it's secondary to the herding instinct, sometimes a prey animal will do something that shifts the dog's drive from herding to prey. So I wouldn't be surprised when it happens. Drives aren't pure and a dog can shift from one to another in a heartbeat. Of course, if you had "the perfect dog" it would never happen. lol

G2 wrote, "Additionally, the weak link/calf is not the one that is going to be taking off for the hills - that's the cow that it belongs to. A good Catahoula focuses on working/moving the strongest of the herd because once it's under control, the whole herd follows. The same holds true with hog hunting with these dogs - they need to control the biggest, meanest boar in the sounder, not focus on "coyote-ing" the piglets. If they don't, there is huge potential for injury - to the dogs and to the people."

I get this but also realize that when the prey drive comes out (obviously a good herding dog will have very few of these moments) it's because the prey animal has done something to evoke it. It's beyond the dog's control. He sees a situation and he goes into prey drive. It's not something he thinks about. Many think that herding is another form of prey drive so it's not much of a leap from one to the other.

G2 wrote, "This is another reason the ecollar is valuable with these dogs - sometimes you need to get your dog out of there, and Catahoulas tend to be a bit hard headed and independent. When they're in high drive, they tend to not listen, or maybe they can't listen. Regardless, the ecollar helps to break focus for long enough for them to hear you and come out of a situation."

With such dogs, and in many other situations that make use of the dog's natural drives for the work, the Ecollar is not used to train the behavior, that's inherent in the dog due to genetics. Rather, there the Ecollar is used mostly as "brakes." To interrupt the dog from focusing on distracting stimuli.

Earlier I wrote, "Where are you located?"

G2 wrote, "Texas - where else?"

You may be surprised to learn, some Texans are, that there is more than one state in the Union. Lol. I asked because I'd be interested in seeing your work. But that's a bit of a haul from Los Angeles, the land of fruits and nuts.

Regards, Lou
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