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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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Dahlia

Gone, But Not- Forgotten.
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 7:39am PST 
thinking For those who object to this method, all I can say is that it is a discussion about a tool. Obviously, it is not very popular on this site, but it can be effective when used correctly-just like any other tool. If you are against it's use, then don't use it. I find this topic interesting and can see that there is interest in learning if it will be effective in certain arenas.

As for stating that the guest is one-sided, aren't many of our members that way? Clicker trainers believe that is the only way. Food stuffers believe that is the only way. It's OK to believe in one method, but that doesn't mean it will work with all dogs.
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 7:39am PST 
G2 wrote, "Just got home from working the Catahoulas on cattle & then Bones on hogs....I don't know all that much about ecollar use, and I'm interested in what your ideas are, Lou, regarding what we did with them today. For example - on a herd of about 10 cattle (is that big enough to be a herd? ) we had 3 green dogs. Now, Catahoulas are headers, not heelers, so they should work the head of the cattle to move them to where they are supposed to go. One dog got a stim (on level 1 setting) because he decided to flake out & go roll in aromatic cow dung - the stim seemed to refocus him and he went back to business. There was no jumping, yelping, cowering behavior - he just got up & went back to business."

G2 are you sure that there wasn't any "jumping, yelping, or cowering?" I ask because I've heard so many times in these arguments from people who seem to think that this is the natural occurrence with Ecollars, that it happens every time the button is pressed. [/silliness].

G2 wrote, "Another dog got a stim because he cut out a calf from the herd & started getting hard with it - & that's a major no no - stim seemed to refocus him, and send him back to managing the larger cattle. The third dog got a stim because she decided to stop paying attention and go lollygag around - the stim again, seemed to refocus her. I didn't see any of these uses as punitive to the dog - no dog ever yelped or showed discomfort other than doing the canine equivalent of 'oh, yeah, I'm supposed to be doing THIS'."

When a dog is working in drive, this response is typical when they get distracted.

G2 wrote, "One of the things I'm curious about is the comment about how using the ecollar in the way Rusty described is not what you would recommend - but what are your ideas about the way it was used today on the working Catahoulas?"

I think that the difference is that Rusty is trying to stop an instinctive behavior (eating) and you're just refocusing the dog (back onto the herding). For Rusty to stop that behavior completely (and often that's impossible ā€“ if the dog gets hungry enough, he's going to eat what's available, to survive) typically takes very high levels of stim. That often results in fallout. (Remember the dog that runs from butterflies)? In your case, you've interrupted the undesired behavior, but have not stopped it so that it will never (as good as can be expected) occur again. You've not risen to the level of aversion training, you're distracting the dogs from the "off drive" behavior.

G2 wrote, "It seems to be the only way to affect a change in behavior at the range the dogs were working the cattle."

Some people may have dogs that are sensitive enough that they can interrupt the behavior with voice commands. Some dogs may respond to this at first, but then may blow the commands off.

G2 wrote, "I guess I'm just interested in your thoughts - what could we have done better, did we make mistakes in what I described, etc."

Did you accompany the stim with a command? I'd try doing that so that later on, the voice command has "more authority." But you might be getting yourself into a management, rather than a training situation. If that's OK with you, in this situation, it's OK with me too. If you're working cattle for fun or for real (on a working ranch, for example) and you want to continue this, again, it's fine with me. If you're going to compete, where the dog can't wear the Ecollar, you have another issue completely. Rolling in the poop is instinctive behavior it's just not the one you want the dog in when he's supposed to be herding. "Getting hard [with a calf]" is a matter of degree and sometimes that's very difficult to train, no matter what tool/method is in use. "Lollygag[ing]" occurs when the dog falls out of drive and again, may be very difficult to train, no matter what the tool. Ideally the dog should be so highly driven to herd, that it never occurs, but none of us have the perfect dog.

Regards, Lou
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 7:43am PST 
Tyler wrote, "And now hear comes the kind of attitude from you Lou that i've seen on the other sites. It's your way or the highway."

I have no idea what you're referring to Tyler. Care to expand on this? Just where have I given this impression? And could you please tell me if you've ever seen a dog trained with my methods. You seem to have missed that question.

Tyler wrote, "I'm not interested in your testimonials...i notice that's something you advertise a great deal in all your forum discussions."

I'm not sure what you're referring to here. I haven't posted any testimonials in this discussion. Tiller did in the very first post that started this thread. I posted a link to Larry Tillacks' original article on this incident so that a member could look at it in it's original form, without any chance of alteration from me.

I sometimes use testimonials from people who have actually used the Ecollar to support my side of the discussion, but I've not done so far in this thread. But of course you're not interested in hearing from people who have had success with the Ecollar. It goes against your beliefs. They must all be lying, right? When people with no experience with using the Ecollar at all, much less with low level stim, IMAGINES that a problem exists in doing something with the tool, that I've done routinely, with no adverse effects, dozens āˆ’ perhaps hundreds of time, I think it's clear to the readers where the credibility lies.

Tyler wrote, "I was hoping to hear a balanced view on both sides of the fence here, but that doesn't seem to be the case."

Do you expect me to present both sides of the discussion? I could, I use the softer methods when they're appropriate for what I'm training and the dog I'm working with. But I realize something that many do not. They're not suitable for all dogs for all things. Iā€™m here to present the argument for the use of the Ecollar. I leave the other side of the argument, to others.

Tyler wrote, "I tried to remain open as possible during this discussion but i'll sit this out from now on because i'm not into biased discussion."

How is it that you don't see that those who oppose the Ecollar are presenting a "biased discussion?" This "blindness" is fascinating!

Regards, Lou
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 7:44am PST 
Dahlia wrote, "For those who object to this method, all I can say is that it is a discussion about a tool. Obviously, it is not very popular on this site, but it can be effective when used correctly-just like any other tool. If you are against it's use, then don't use it. I find this topic interesting and can see that there is interest in learning if it will be effective in certain arenas.

As for stating that the guest is one-sided, aren't many of our members that way? Clicker trainers believe that is the only way. Food stuffers believe that is the only way. It's OK to believe in one method, but that doesn't mean it will work with all dogs."


Way too much common sense in this post. Lol

Regards, Lou
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Duncan

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

moderator
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 8:11am PST 
Lou Castle wrote: "Yes it is more impressive. I was completely wrong in my assessment of agility and this dog in particular. That IS excellent control at a distance. And it typical of what herding dogs do at a distance as a result of their natural instincts."

WOW, Lou! That was amazing and exactly what we don't see enough of in discussion forums. You just had to admit you were wrong, not only about the video clip, but the entire sport of agility and how it works! And you admitted this after *open-mindedly* listening to members who have real experience in the sport! Your grace and humility are impressive. And, this exchange and your response gives you way more credibility than all the times you were "right" put together.

I'm listening to you now. smile
Peekaboo

You can't see- me!
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 8:23am PST 
I have been following this discussion with interest, and there are a few questions that I haven't seen an answer to yet. I hope you will oblige me...

Why would you recommend a dog be trained on your methods rather than be trained with a clicker or other positive methods? By this, I mean things that can be taught equally well through another method. If it is because you feel your method is superior to others, why is it?

You said in a previous post that you don't like it when a person trains the dog with a different method and then uses the ecollar for proofing the behavior. Why is this? Do you feel there would be harm in doing it this way and, if so, what harm?

As has been mentioned, there is concern that the dogs be happy to train, to work. When working with aversives, we often see that the dogs aren't happy, that they lose that spark or they look like they really don't want to be doing what they're asked to do. What do you have to say about this in regards to your methods?

Do you have any videos of dogs that have been trained on your method?
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Member Since
07/14/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 8:35am PST 
Tyler said:
__________________________________________________________________ __________
I was hoping to hear a balanced view on both sides of the fence here, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

I tried to remain open as possible during this discussion but i'll sit this out from now on because i'm not into biased discussion.
_______________________________________________________ ______________________

I don't really understand this. Lou is giving you his side, which is how effective the ecollar can be when used correctly and explaining how to use it appropriately. The other side of that fence says that the ecollar is inhumane. How is Lou supposed to argue both sides? He can't. If a balanced discussion is what you want, can't you contribute to the discussion in a balanced way without getting personal with someone who has an opposing viewpoint?

I'd also like to add that for a long time now it has been nearly impossible to have a balanced discussion on this method because of the bloodbath that ensues when anyone dares to bring it up publicly in a positive light. I'm a member of several wonderful dog forums. When I went looking for information on the appropriate use of ecollars, I quickly realized that I was pretty much on my own. Searches for "proper use of electronic collar" would inevitably bring up what was supposed to be comical youtube videos showing an annoying human being zapped, or numerous threads on forums like this where the asker was drawn, quartered, tarred, and feathered. I imagine that such a reaction time and time again is rather frustrating for both ecollar trainers and the pet owners who want to use them properly.

You (general you) don't have to like the method. You don't have to use the method. BUT, there needs to be room for more calm, factual, and yes, balanced discussions on this method because people WILL use this method. And they need to know HOW to do that. Frankly, shouting/shutting down one of the few good trainers who publicly talks about the proper ways to use the ecollar is a very bad idea. People need to be educated on how to use this method correctly. We need good trainers for that.

My brother's dog is a classic example of what happens to a dog when information on the proper use of an ecollar is scarce. This happened around 5 years ago, and I didn't know about it until recently when he tried to "teach me" how to use an ecollar. His method, and what he thought you were supposed to do, was to wait until the dog did something wrong, crank up the dial a bit, and zap them hard. That's what happened to this beautiful collie when he went into the trash. frown When I explained to him that that was NOT how you used them, and explained how you were supposed to use them, he was horrified at what mental damage (not to mention pain) he must have done to that dog. That is what happens to DOGS when people don't have the knowledge to use this tool correctly.
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Alva BH

I ordered the- best dog for me- & got her
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 8:53am PST 
Remote-controlled electronic collars are considered illegal in Finland and I do not think it would be common among their agility training. Yet this country has collecter pretty many agility World Championship medals.
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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 10:15am PST 
These collars are available at Petco, PetSmart and Dr. Fosters Smith. Giant names that tend to bring in both the novice dog owner, the more casual dog owner, less enlightened dog owner as well as the dog savvy. That's important to remember. If this was some very fringe thing, I would get this more. What I don't get is silencing the proper use of this tool, for as I pointed out in an earlier post, a very typical conclusion is just to zap your dog when he does something wrong, and if the dog were to show pain at that time, perhaps that's just the way it is supposed to be? Afterall, this is something they bought at a pet loving place, right? That's what they might well think. As the Guest above me relates.

Lou Castle can admit your training style works well, and even when I was arguing with him before, I never felt he was saying it is the only way. He WILL say no method will bring you better reliability, and I think that is fair because it is self evident. When dogs need to be trained to certain commands when their lives are on the line....such as SAR, hunting, snake proofing as mentioned....the ecollar is commonly referred to.

In terms of Peekaboo's comments, I can answer that in part, just because I have been in warring debates with Lou before.

I recall this line...."they're not YOU!" he would sternly say to me, and that was getting under my skin, in the "damn, I know he's making a good point and that is ticking me off!" sort of way laugh out loud Other methods do work. There is a method mentioned on another thread as to how to condition your dog to associate only positive things with him name. It includes a minimum of 5,000 times reinforcing with food. Some people may find that a bit much. I am a puppy coach and tell my people that by age three, he will be perfect. Some people can't deal with that either. Every day, another bond breaks, another dog gets dumped at a shelter for this reason. Due to my own ethics, I knew the point he was making and got it all too well. An un-or-poorly trained dog, around age two, is the quintessential shelter dump. Just because that wouldn't happen to MY dogs....what about them?

This is why I put up that behavioral case. It was an occasion where only the ecollar would do. The trainer had four days. That was it. There was no method that could have offered that pace. None. P or R. And it's much the same with basic pet training. I have never...not even back when I was debating with Lou....felt he was saying they were the "only way." Those who say he insists that aren't reading closely enough as I said I won't use one. Ever. Does he have problem with this? Does he argue this? No. Does he doubt that my dogs are well trained? No, I wouldn't think so. But does he think my dogs were trained as quickly or reliably as he could have coached me to do? Um, no on that, too. I don't have a problem with that. I don't need to be "the best" in that way. If there is an easier, quicker or sounder way, if it distances me from my miracle moments, I really don't care. Am I assuming some risk to my own dog with that attitude? Yes. I am aware of that. But I am a good dog manager.

My friend Duncan has an article coming up on the might Garo Alexanian....he is Armenian cheer laugh out loud......who has come up with a very successful approach of preventing shelter surrenders. People who arrive, fed up and overwhelmed. What they need are resources and answers. Perhaps ecollar training is something that can be proposed within that framework. Because they are not me. They need answers, as in yesterday. People don't like that trainers who use ecollars often will guarantee their training, but they do. No one else does. No one else can. That doesn't mean I'll use one. I like my method. I like the journey and experience. I also don't mind having an utterly unreliable fifteen month German dog, because "when he is three, he will be great."

Lou was wrong about agility, which I knew. But I think a difference there is agility dogs typically adore what they do. SAR dogs also get very into work mode, and therein can be a problem. That when I was told, by SAR friends, to get off my high horse, and that if I had some way to breathe life back into their dog, then maybe I'd have a platform for my strong opinions. Until such time, they told me to bother off. I got their point. We have a member here, Trigger, who hunts with her dogs and had a dog bleed out, die, in her arms due to a failed recall. She now uses ecollars for recalls. When a hunting dog is on the make, that's not on a level with an agility dog on his course. You are, with a hunting dog, asking him to click off massive drive. That's pretty dense. It's why ecollars are so oft referred to. If your agility dog goes off course, he doesn't end up dead. That's the difference. That and the kingpins of agility are herding breeds, who already have that wiring. Massive adapted prey drive with immense self control.

Edited by author Sun Dec 2, '12 10:31am PST

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Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 10:52am PST 
There are many very basic dog problems which result in shelter returns, I must agree, Tiller. If two of my doggies were not private adoptions, I would have returned them for DA and leash aggression. Also they would have been hard to place, one do to requiring knee surgery, the other due to his looks. They both would due better in single dog homes. But work, which was very hard for me and something I did NOT want to take on, has made them dog tolerant and dog selective, thank god. I'm someone who does not want very problematic dogs, someone who doesn't want that sort of "journey." What doesn't kill me does not make me stronger. I want results. Sorry if this offends anyone, and I have gotten good advice here, that's just the way I am.

I'm able to work with my timid rescue. I'm able to work with with a drivy assertive naughty dog, etc. Those are my fortes. I can socialize a puppy well. That's why I'm going to get my next pup from an excellent breeder and it's going to be a Golden. And I don't know which kind of training I will use. Probably a combo of drive (not Behan) training, force free, and who knows what else.

I am enjoying this discussion. I believe it will help me with my car-chasing herder.
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