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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Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 7:02pm PST 
I read the article about the rehabbed dog and I'm a bit foggy on exactly how it was used to achieve the goal. Was it shaping? And if so is the stim held on until the dog gives the handler a look and then released? Or is he given a series of stims, like beep, beep, beep until he looks the right way?

It does sound like if used correctly, one could barely give the dog a sensation to get a response . . . .

And I'm supposing even if you did use the e-collar training method, say for OB, of course you would have to wean off just like with food rewards before your work would be considered finished, right? A dog can't compete in one obviously , but ultimately you don't want a "collar-wise" dog right? Or a dog that won't perform with no collar?

Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 7:20pm PST 
I think they have their place in proofing essential commands like leave it or recall where the dog already knows and responds to the command. But I don't agree with shocking the dog continuously until it sits/lies down/recalls to teach it as the person in that article advocates, I've come across him on other forums. I don't think they're essential though and I can't understand how americans seem incapable of training a gundog without one. Here dogs work without collars and shock collars are rarely if ever used even banned in Wales.

The Muddy- Princess
Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 7:32pm PST 
Tiller, the story of Simon is interesting, but I find it hard to fully accept an account excerpted on the website of the person attempting to sell his training system. I have had arguments with Lou Castle before when he popped up on the Golden Forum although he does not have Goldens and only posts in support of ecollar usage.

"I would like to add in the world of punishers, nowhere can you test a dog's responses to a potential correction and assess your dog's response, see if you are comfortable with it, without jeopardizing the dog's sense of trust towards you, for he is not associating you with the stim. The pager function, a Dogster friend has told me, also is an option. Nowhere, too, in the world of punishers, can you have the punisher held safe from your emotion of the moment. It is here ecollars have particular interest to me, as something unique and in parts potentially safer."

You know, If I correct my dog I want them to know it is coming from me. I am finding this hard to explain, but I don't like the idea that my dog may not understand what is punishing him/her. That has more of a chance of creating an anxious dog than knowing I am correcting them.

"Beyond this, there are life saving methods towards which the ecollar is employed. One of these is for things such as snake proofing for pets, or for hunters putting on a very sound recall. We have a Dogster here who now uses ecollars for such measures after having her beloved dog die in her arms, and as such is now adamant about this sort of proofing. Hopefully, she can offer her experiences. This is equally why ecollars are quite prevalent in SAR, where the dog is working in very risky settings, making compliance to the handler's commands much a matter of personal safety. I will add the ethical challenge I received, from SAR people, who train quite positively, that the issue isn't what they prefer but what works to the most reliable result given to the seriousness of the potential fallouts."

I agree with this use of ecollars and used it myself to create a recall when my dogs were chasing deer (after losing one to a car), but that experience also taught me that some dog can take ecollar training, some can't. My Golden could take it and learn, my Golden mix shut down when he wore the collar and for a week afterward.


Spooky Mulder
Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 7:53pm PST 
The OB one particular puzzles me because i'd have thought the handler would want their dog to be having fun and complying through mutual team work, not shocking the dog everytime it blows a command.

There are plenty of people in the OB circles who don't really give two spits if their dog is having fun.

Same goes for Sch, or any other competitive sport.

And I say that with as little emotion as is possible... I'm not saying its right or wrong... but there are those who care more about the competition than the dog.
Kali earned- her wings- 10/21/14

She's game for- anything that's- fun.
Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 8:15pm PST 
I have a good use for ecollars..........one time my husband and a friend of his, who I can't stand, went to the pet store to pick up some dog food. My husband is like a big kid and has to play with everything when he goes to a store. Well, they both ended up in the isle where the ecollars are sold. My husband, being the kid he is, opened one of the boxes and examined the ecollar and was reading the directions. His stupid friend took the collar part and touched it to his neck. Well, my husband saw it coming and pushed to button and it shocked his friend so hard, he fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes that sounded like a thud. Couldn't have happened to a better person. It must have been on the highest setting. Anyway, a few people saw the whole thing and started howling at the sight of a grown man in a heap on the floor. BOLBOL!! I know this was a little off topic, but I thought it might give someone else a good laugh. It did me.........big laughbig laugh

Edited by author Fri Nov 30, '12 8:16pm PST

Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 9:13pm PST 
Selli, the thing about how you feel about corrections....I have the same sentiment. That and I really don't like using anything where I don't have a reasonable guess as to how it translates. I think we are of like minds. I am a traditionalist trainer and that is how my brain is wired. Think before you do and if you are not certain then don't do it. Period. It's all about the bond and the relationship.

That said, I was pretty bull headed and happily ignorant about the ecollar thing, but did finally get challenged on enough ethical issues to really see their point and application. Would I use one? No. Buuuut.....I don't have to. As for others? And therein my bitter pill.

Lou Castle, I have argued with him before, too. Like a lot. He's a loo loo! laugh out loud But here's the thing. What's he selling? He isn't selling much. He gives seminars. Much to my chagrin, I found SAR people respect him heavily. He doesn't have a training school. He doesn't have a book as far as I know. He gives seminars which are very well received. A whole lot of very embraced trainers are hearing that cash register go with their media sales far more than he is. I know in the aftermath of our epic hornlock, I found him genuine. He celebrates the successes and wants to defend his tool of choice for the good he has seen it do. I don't always agree, but I can't really question his sincerity. He believes in his tool, and if it were about money he'd be doing a Frawley silenced

Where he challenged me was on my own ethics, particularly from a rescue perspective. His term "APO" = "average pet owner." We are so used to surrounding ourselves with these incredibly dog savvy people who have very strong investments in these animals...dedicate their lives. But others simply want their dogs TRAINED. Nothing long and drawn out, no drama. And if my method takes a while....which let's face it, it does; my dogs are finished training wise to strong reliability by their third year....I can't demand everyone follow my lead with that sort of patience and tolerance. I think of some people who are ridding themselves of their dogs and there are some manners to get a dog trained in a quicker way. Even if I don't agree with the method, if it is an option to offer?

And past that did involve myself more open mindedly in discussions with a whole mix of people. Competitive people, SAR people, working dog people, hunters, and realized the use of the ecollar and how pervasive it is, ironically enough, with those who are more positive based and refer to ecollars for polishing and correction. And when things are life and death, is often the training tool of choice. I ultimately had to chastise myself, for that's how I usually evaluate....how methods are employed, how reliable the dogs are, and their enthusiasm.

It doesn't change my mind about my personal decisions, but it definitely has me see people who use them in a different way. I will evaluate them by how they use the ecollar and how bond-based their training is generally. The enthusiasm of their dogs in tandem with those evaluations.

Minimally, I think people need to be informed how ecollars are used, i.e., not pain zappers when the dog does something wrong. This at least gives people like Jasper a chance to share their experiences without fears of some backlash, with abuse getting inferred. That's not right, and I used to be a guilty party. It's not a healthy community when there is a tool that can be used humanely (i.e., no pain, where a dog's responses can be measured without association to the handler) and yet hostility is targeted towards them based on ignorance, misinformation and false studies. If it is to be argued....and that I have no issue with as I do not use them....it needs to be argued on factual basis, such as that it is punisher, the indirectness of it, the *potentials* for abuse, the existence of places such as Sit Means Sit and so on.

Edited by author Fri Nov 30, '12 9:25pm PST

Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Fri Nov 30, '12 9:39pm PST 
@ Gus....I think it was you, Gus! laugh out loud I do not in any way claim to be an expert on this issue, but from what I gleaned the ecollar was used to establish the handler as a safe zone. We talk about "good things come," and when the dog came towards that good thing....the handler....he got away from the stim. In that he is not associating the handler with the stim, he becomes the groovy zone, and the dog is able to work through his issues, taking the aspect of where people were once what to fear and flipping it to people are ones to drawn towards. This is similarly why eye contact at a heel is often refined with ecollars, as at a heel the handlers eye contact is the stim-less zone. Also, speed. In contemporary training when you get to the highend zone, most will use either the clicker or ecollar for speed. While these two tools are very different, in both the dog has some sense of controlling them. The clicker dog will get that reward faster if he is faster, the ecollar stim can be escaped faster if he moves faster. I myself use neither for speed, but rather tension-release. If you, for example, hold a reinforcer and let the dog know you have it, he knows he can't get it until he gets a command, and you let him build in his "say something!!!!!" eagerness, when you have that built energy it translates into a very rapid and enthusiastic burst, as they are by that time craning for it. Different strokes. Different dogs, too wink
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 12:00am PST 

I do believe they have their place and can be used correctly. The problem is when you get any joe shmoe buying them, not learning or caring HOW to use them properly and putting it at the highest setting and just zapping away at their dog for every little thing without TEACHING the dog anything to begin with. Or the idiot so-called-trainer who doesn't know how to use such correction tools properly either, and starts using them on dogs that CANNOT handle such corrections. There's dogs that can and dogs that can't.

I will agree with their use for protective purposes though, such as teaching snake avoidance(I own a snake, and will always own snakes - mind you not poisonous ones), and various other safety precautions. A great example, is a friend recently moved to a farm and her Shepherd/Collie mix is packing up with one of the other dogs and they've begun attacking the farms goats - now, most would shoot the dogs and be done with it. Instead, my friend is looking into ecollars and vibration collars to try to teach the dogs that they get corrected if they touch the fence that contains the goats. She would rather have her dog learn to stay away than keep entering and get shot by the owner(she just lives on their land and they're old-fashioned farmers).

Now, personally, I don't typically condone them for just anyone, nor do I particularly LIKE their use myself - but I do understand their use and when used properly, in the right circumstances, don't have too much of an issue with them. Will I ever use them on my own dogs? Probably never.

Member Since
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 12:13am PST 
Excellent first post for this discussion Tiller. I'm the trainer that Tiller mentioned as "the Ecollar expert," although I'm not fond of the term. I prefer to think that I know "a bit" about the tool and its use and let the readers decide for themselves if I qualify as an expert. By way of introduction, so you can gauge this ... I've been training dogs since 1979. I started out as a police K-9 handler for a medium size police department in the Los Angeles area. After my dog retired I became the in-house trainer for the department for the next 15 years or so, until I was injured on the job and they retired me.

Now I train pets, Police Service Dogs and SAR dogs. I also serve as a legal consultant on K-9 matters, and as an instructor at K-9 seminars across the U.S. and in Europe.

In 1996 I started doing seminars for training PSD's, SAR dog handlers and pet dog owners. Since then I've done 60 seminars and workshops in 20 states, 43 cities and three foreign countries.

I've been using Ecollars for about 25 years now. Many of my clients have dogs with serious problems. They've tried virtually every other tool/method known to man in their efforts to solve those issues, and have failed. Most often, I use the Ecollar to repair those issues. I've never failed to show those people a way back. I've put Ecollars on well over 3,000 dogs.

Member Since
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 12:24am PST 
Kado wrote: "I'd be very interested in learning how they are used in OB and SAR. I have a dog who is an inveterate chaser of cars, horses, bikes, etc. But I consider it so dangerous as to be potentially lethal and fear for her life."

Most commonly in OB they're used by people who train the behaviors with other methods and then use the Ecollar as a correcting device to proof them around distractions and to gain reliability at a distance. I’m not a fan of doing it that way.

In SAR I get clients who have not been able to get reliable OB or stop their dogs from chasing animals. I use the Ecollar to teach and train a recall, a sit, and a down. The recall includes loose leash walking. I also use the tool there to stop those dogs from chasing various animals that they might come across in their work.

You're right that car−chasing is a potentially lethal situation. In many areas a dog that's "worrying" sheep can be shot by the shepherd or owner of the property. Car chasing is obviously fraught with danger. Horse and bike riders can be thrown or tripped up. Lawsuits may follow.

As a police K−9 trainer I developed a protocol to stop police dogs from chasing cats during yard−to−yard searches for criminals who ran from us. Turns out, it also stops dogs from chasing all sorts of other animals, and is even effective on dog−to−dog aggression.

I recommend that people start with a cat because they're easy to get and many dogs that chase animals, even if they're other animals than cats, will stop chasing altogether. You may have to work on the car issue separately but once the protocol has been worked with a cat, the dog catches on very quickly to other animals and such things as bikes and cars. You can see the protocol BY CLICKING HERE.

You're correct that if you want the dog to perform when he's not wearing the Ecollar, you have to wean it away. There are instructions for this on my site.
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