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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Member Since
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 9:00am PST 
Jackson Tan wrote,
"Ah, interesting discussion! E collars are actually banned in my state here in Australia stemming, I suppose, from serious misuse, but I was always very interested in the snake aversion training, as we have sooo many poisonous snakes and I know people who have lost dogs just on summer walks. JT has a pretty good leave it but in summer he doesn't get a whole lot of off leash time because of this issue, sometimes I wish I could do the training."

JT I don't know what state you're in but Oz has different rules for the various states. In one of them, they're, as you say, banned. But one merely has to ask their vet for a letter to be able to use one.

Using a "leave it" command is a good second choice for keeping your dog away from poisonous snakes but it requires your constant vigilance. Sometimes you're going to more vigilant than others. And it requires that you recognize the behavior that your dog shows when he's come across a snake, and that there's time for you to give the command and for the dog to comply.

Snake proofing has the dog doing the avoiding without any input from you. You don't even need to be present.

THAT BEING SAID ... snake proofing requires the highest competence with the Ecollar from the trainer because it's done at the highest level of stim that an Ecollar has. The dog is trained that snakes can bite him from a distance and so he learns to completely avoid them. You want the dog to "literally run in fear" from the snake. It requires the best timing and the best knowledge of what you're doing with the tool. I saw one dog who, at the most inopportune moment, looked up from the snake, just as a butterfly flitted by. That dog now runs from BOTH snakes and butterflies. This is an example of the fallout that can occur with high stim level use of the tool. But it never happens with low level stim. It's just not important enough to the dog to have that much effect.

Regards, Lou

Member Since
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 9:01am PST 
Kado wrote,
"I'm wondering if I could use your protocol with a car. A cat is not available, actually. She will chase our car, and a friend's car, so we could use either, having the car slowly approach. Could the protocol be adapted in this way?"

I think that you could use the car to substitute for the prey animal in the protocol. But I wouldn't have the driver "slowly approach." The essence of the protocol is that the distraction level is slowly turned up. This is done by having the handler with the dog "angle in" rather than directly approach the prey animal. You also need to have the prey animal moving constantly and consistently.

I'd do this in a large open parking lot or field that can be driven on. I'd have a passenger in the car, if a parking lot was in use. The driver is going to drive in a large circle around the dog/handler and the size of that circle needs to be consistent. The passenger would look out for obstructions. There are more particulars that I'd put into play to make it safe and effective. If you'd like to discuss this, please contact me directly, and we can set up a phone call.

Regards, Lou

Member Since
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 9:02am PST 
Tyler wrote, "Sorry Guest, are you Lou Castle that was mentioned earlier? If not no worries. I know i was scanning through an old post on another UK based forum ( that i was not apart of ) where Lou Castle hasn't gone down well and is banned from the site!

Also, i guess there are some people out there that care more about the sport than the dog having fun etc, like Mulder pointed out. But if all you care about is winning and precision then i feel really sorry for those dogs when they get it wrong or don't win!

Anyway, back on topic. I support the ban on OTC sales of them to the general public because of their potential for misuse. I only ever want to see them in the hands of professionals and IF a client needs such a tool i want that owner fully trained and knowing exactly what they're doing. It's so easy to buy a collar online, have it delivered to your door and you're fit to go. That is a recipe for disaster IMO that the poor dog ends up paying the price for.

Also, i think you need to be more precise when you say "SAR people respect him heavily" Tiller, perhaps in certain countries, but that most certainly wouldn't be the case here.

While i'm at it too, i was always under the impression they was not to be used for DA issues, Guest? But you say they can be effective in this area. What kind of assessment would you do first on the DA dog to determine what kind of underlying issue is causing the behaviour? For example would the ecollar be used on a fear aggressive DA dog?"

Yep, that's me. I've been banned from several sites. Some people just can't handle the truth." LOL (Tom Cruise movie reference there). Some forums don't permit the discussion of Ecollars at all but they don't state it in their rules. On such sites it's an "unofficial−official rule." I found out by posting and then a ban resulted. On most of those forums, I regard the banning as a "badge of honor."

I'm with you on not liking it when people place more value on ribbons, trophies and certificates than on the well-being of their dogs.

As to your support for OTC sales ... An identical case can be made for virtually any tool that's used in dog training. ANY of them are subject to misuse. ANY of them are best used by a professional. Any of them should only be used after an owner has been "fully trained [and] knows exactly what they're doing." ANY of them can be purchased online and then they're "fit to go." At least with the Ecollar it's impossible for them to cause physical injury, which is easily done with many other tools.

Re your comment about SAR people respecting me and your statement "that most certainly wouldn't be the case here." I'm at a disadvantage because I don't know where you're located. I'd guess it would be the UK. Several years back I was invited there to be a judge at a SAR competition that was attended by SAR handlers and K−9's from all over the UK and Europe. I don't think that invitation would have been forthcoming, if I wasn't "respected." I was invited back for the next year's competition, but due to changes in the laws regarding bringing foreign dogs into the UK, the sponsor has not repeated the competition. BTW I did an Ecollar presentation there that was very well received. Many people learned that the Ecollar was NOT what they'd thought it was.

Of the 60 seminars that I've done 16 of them involved SAR handlers. I'm consistently invited to the annual conventions for a couple of national SAR organizations and have repeated six times at one annual conference. I'm invited back for a seventh time, next year for that one. No one is universally "respected" but I think that I have far more than my share.

I have no idea where you got the idea that Ecollars were "not to be used for DA issues." Perhaps it's from warnings from people who don't know how to use the tool properly for this issue? It might emanate from a misunderstanding of what is says on some manufacturers sites. Typical is the warning in the Dogtra manuals (Dogtra is among one of the largest manufacturer of the tool). "Dogtra does not recommend using the e-collar to correct dogs that are aggressive towards other dogs or people. In many such cases the dog will associate the stimulation with the other dog or individual and become even more aggressive. Dog aggression is best treated by a dog training specialist."

Note the part that I highlighted. Clearly what they're saying is NOT TO CORRECT an aggressive dog with an Ecollar. They're certainly not saying that an Ecollar should not be used to treat the issue. Other manufacturers make similar statements warning NOT TO CORRECT an aggressive dog.

The Ecollar can be used to treat fear−aggressive dogs, as was the case with both Roma and Simon. I really don't care what's causing the aggression, I just train the dog to look away from the other dog. A dog can't be aggressive towards something he isn't going to look at. With fear aggressive dogs, they usually discover that they don't have to fear other dogs, and they learn to relax.

Here's some video from a client who used to have a fear aggressive dog. She treated him with my protocol for this. NOTE: this is an extraordinary result. Usually the aggressive dog just stops his aggression. It's very rare that they'll frolic and play with other dogs, but it happened here. No one has ever been able to tell me with conviction which dog was the formerly aggressive one. Can anyone here do so? If you give it a try, please tell us what you base your statement on. CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO.

Regards, Lou

Member Since
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 9:03am PST 
Sabi wrote, "I have a very bright, very sensitive young dog that has some issues stemming from vision and hearing impairments as well as some mental impairment. My concern with using an ecollar is in making these behaviors worse and destroying the bond I have worked to build with her. Can you explain how an ecollar may be useful for her or if you think one might work."

Sabi without knowing the depth of the issues that you mention it's difficult for me to answer your question with any specificity. Can the dog hear commands spoken in a "normal tone?" How "impaired" is her vision? Can you tell me more about her "mental impairments?"

I can only make some very general comments without more information.

The Ecollar, as used with my methods will not destroy your bond with your dog. In fact, I think that the recall training builds a bond faster than any other tool/method that exists in dog training. The dog learn in just a few minutes that being away from you brings discomfort from the environment but that coming towards you and staying near you, brings comfort. Your mere presence makes the dog comfortable! I think this is why Roma (referred to a few posts back) went from literally wanting to kill, me to accepting me as a leader.

Regards, Lou

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 9:22am PST 
Shadow was found unconcious at about 18 days old. The behaviorists and vets I have consulted with have likened her to an autistic toddler. She is constantly over stimulated and has issues with focus and concentration. She gets 'swamped' by daily life which on leash translates to a fight reaction and off leash makes her run and hide.
Her eyes don't relay messages properly and things that are fast moving, flashing lights and reflections cause an intense fear reaction.
Her hearing may be normal as she seems to hear when she is calm. With all her other problems this is the least of my worries and has not been investigated.

Edited by author Sat Dec 1, '12 9:24am PST


Whippy- The- Whipador
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 9:33am PST 
Sadly you advocating their use on even fearful dogs is enough to confirm my suspicions that actually the dog is not properly assessed before such a tool being used. A good trainer IMO is one that assesses a dog's temperament and compatibility with ANY tools. Stick an ecollar on my sensitive Lurcher or my DA terrier and it's not going to do either of them any favours. I can say that because i KNOW my dogs and their abilities and limitations. I think it's totally inappropriate to use them on fearful dogs.

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 10:06am PST 
I don't know much about e-collars. My only up-close-and-personal experience with them was when I met a lady on a walk this summer who had one on her dog. The dog was sweet and well-behaved. We both complimented eachother on our dogs. She was very pleased with the results the e-collar had given her, except for the fact that she could only get the dog to listen reliably when the collar was on.
What I like about reward-based training is that there are always rewards available. No matter where we are, there will be something to offer Lupi, whether it be food, praise, the chance to sniff a bush or chase a rabbit or meet another dog...
But with avoidance-based training (the dog is avoiding the stim) it seems that some dogs learn to listen only when the collar is on. Which is fine I guess if you're using it in specific circumstances (hunting, say) and it will always be on for those times.
I'm not sure if this is a common occurrence or not, since as I say, I've only spoken to one e-collar user (that I'm aware of) and that was her experience.
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 10:15am PST 
Thank you for the information on snake aversion training, Lou. It is certainly not something I would try and train on my own but it certainly is something to bear in mind in a country so riddled with poisonous animals.

Unfortunately you never do know how great your leave it actually is until your dog is actually staring down a snake. My dog can leave a cat or drop a steak on my word but still, you never know and I don't bank on it. I will continue to be careful!

Thanks again for the info. smile

Champion PPH
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 10:39am PST 
applause A hot topic calmly discussed; Yay!

applause Jasper, thanks for sharing your story, as I know ecollar users tend to get bashed in here, but what matters is that your dog is happy & mentally stimulated. (not electronically wink )

I am assuming Guest is here to share experience on it's usage, and have not seen any sales pitches, just links to examples of it's use. After all, our very own Asher tells us she is a trainer, and recommends her Mentor & her videos quite often.

I have a Cocker Spaniel and they are known for being sensitive souls; harsh training does not work well with them. However, I am considering being trained in use of an ecollar to stop poop eating at the local dog park. My boy will be too far for a correction and bolts off with his "prize" as I approach him. I KNOW that shocking him is not the answer, but I think vibration will break his concentration on this foul habit? As a friend once told me "You want your dog to think it's the Hand of God telling him no". What are your thoughts on this?

Edited by author Sat Dec 1, '12 10:49am PST

Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Sat Dec 1, '12 10:44am PST 
The description of the training recall . . .. dog is stimmed until he moves toward the handler, i.e. the right direction . . .. sounds very much like the kind of "pressure" John Lyons talks about in what he calls conditioned response training for horses.

Moving off the leg is taught by bumping the horse lightly but repetitively with one's legs until he moves (think the level of annoyance of someone bumping your seat at the movies, not painful at all, but annoying). As soon as the horse moves all leg action from the rider ceases. Repeat, very soon the horse learns that annoying thing stops whenever he moves from the first touch of the leg. As he advances in getting it . . .. the leg pressure doesn't stop until the horse gets going at the speed you want.

I did use that with my horse and never had to carry a crop as a reinforcing threat again . . .. it was gentle and effective and it was very interesting to see how little pressure the horse was happy to seek relief from. The key was there HAS to be a clear relief (as opposed to the rider who never leaves the horse alone with cues, heavy holding hands, niggling legs) . . ..

So with Lyons, everything taught from seeking the human on the ground in the round pen to giving to the bit is about pressure and the horse learning what makes the pressure stop . . .

I can relate to that concept . . . and further it's easy to find the lightest touch with a horse because you are on him . ..it's pure bio feedback, your quiver of a muscle matched by his response. The horse can therefore teach his rider about how light the touch can be because it's so direct.

The things we ask with dogs is necessarily much more brain work and very little or certainly much less direct contact . . . . but it seems the "stim" gives the handler a physical hand on the dog in a way . . .. . . a less intuitive, less organic way . . . than a leg on a horse I think.

It's something to mull over for sure. I also have never tried clicker trainer with horses, which I hear works amazingly well . . . ..

Another question I have, if at some point in recall training, you are aiming for a dog with this protocol, a velcro response--where "out there" is some hot zone and right next to the handler is the place to be . . ..

Does this confuse the dog when he needs to work out away from the handler as in herding, SAR, drug detection, tracking?
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