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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Be Scaredy of- Me, Dawg!
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 11:03am PST 
"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]."

big grin Yup, very sure - the most I've ever seen on the Catahoulas in regards to awareness of a stim has been an ear flick. On the cattle yesterday, we didn't even see that - the cattle were at least a 150 yards from us, because we didn't want to spook them & make it harder for the dogs.

"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."

We were quite a distance the dogs so normal voice commands weren't really possible - there were things like "hiyee, cow!" to the lollygag dog, and "get back in there" to the poo rolling dog, but that's about all we could do. We train the dogs on a working ranch, but we also are considering competing in the NALC cattle trials, & working cattle will not be how they earn their daily bread. Cattle herding - that's the one area we are lacking in as far as competition goes. So again, any thoughts you might have? All would be appreciated. smile

"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."

Rolling in poop is 'disgusting' instinctive behavior, especially when you start to pet the dog and come away with cow c&ca on your hand. laugh out loud On the 'getting hard with a calf' - the issue here is that the dog should NEVER focus on the weakest link - when he did, that earned him a stim, refocused him, and he went back to the adults. I see what you mean re: this being a fine line - how to train that discernment, and hope that it holds when the dog is in the field. The lollygag dog is young - none of my dogs had seen more than two cows at a time, and that was in a contained area. We were working them yesterday on a small herd on some acreage. Very new situation for them. So, again, any thoughts you might have would be appreciated.

Edited by author Sun Dec 2, '12 11:08am PST


Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 11:27am PST 
Lou Castle. Thank you for coming here, you have contributed quite a bit to the discussion.
You're quite brave to come on here and talk about e-collars. Many here have invested their hearts into positive reinforcement. While this is not a bad thing, it is hard to go against a crowd who many have had numerous successes with clicker training (myself included) and the likes.
I hope you stick around for further discussions, its always nice to have more points of views on situations.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 11:44am PST 
@ Wat....I appreciate your honesty re the shelter return thing. It's not as if I don't see that happen. I second handedly know of a humane profressional....I mean she WORKS in the humane field...who had her dog PTS due to getting out and bothering her neighbor's livestock. They didn't like that and she didn't like getting in trouble with her neighbors. She COULD have worked with him, she COULD have confined him better. But let's face it...that bond was done. This was not some unenlightened dog owner or someone who doesn't have a humane mindset. She dedicates her whole life to the humane field. But she was fed up with her dog. Some get overwhelmed.

People like Dogster Duncan are very aware...more aware than I am frankly...of this issue of bond. And when you get down to just the bottomline, a lot of dogs are surrendered, rehomed or euth'd because the bond lessens or snaps. Have you ever said, in that moment of pity, that you just don't want to be "in this," in this way, with your dogs, Wat? Do you stick it out at times because the shelter is against your ethics, no rescue would take him, and is not re-home-able?

There are a lot of people out there who will take exquisite care of their dogs, but don't feel it is right or normal for a dog to upend their lives. Maybe that abrades our senses, but the fact remains that they own dogs. We can't stop that from happening, and there is a dog's life that hangs in that balance. Awareness towards proper ecollar use has to me become a humane issue. By more or less blacklisting how to use it properly, dogs will get strong settings, pain and fallout. By not having it as one option, people will give up on their dogs more readily. By HAVING available info on it, the tool is used properly and less dogs get surrendered. That surely doesn't mean I think anyone here should use one, I am not "recommending" ecollars, but rather that I feel those who like to be dog savvy understand how they work, particularly if they are into helping dog people in a community minded way. It may save a life one day. If I had a person who was thinking or dumping a dog due to serious crittering that was risking their dog and causing them to fall into bad favor with their neighbors....would I recommend an ecollar? Hell YES. What's the other option? Recommending training that offers no rapid result, and has high odds to fail anyway? Crittering is very intense stuff that all training styles are notoriously under effective with. Which risk the dog and can infuriate a neighbor.

These are issues. That's why I put that rehab link up. It's just for me....and it is not as if I didn't know this happens, but that there was such an articulate account from someone who is not an ecollar trainer, who is experienced with other methods.....that this is a resource, if needed. I think the fact that it unnerves us somewhat can easily be counterbalanced by looking at the results at shelters.

Easy to say "oh, they didn't train right," but....seeing how Cain is on this thread, can contribute in this context, that cute Catahoula puppy can turn into a massive prey drive, hell bent sort of a dog. And that's not merely a training issue, that's a life endangering issue. Some people are taken quite aback and it is way beyond the scope of your local Petco trainer. And/or, if your life to that point was defined by your long country walks. Seeming him frolic in the field. And now that's dead. He's getting less exercise, is starting to eat your house. And you say "I just can't do this."

Edited by author Sun Dec 2, '12 11:52am PST



When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 12:26pm PST 
I was interested in this thread because I have a dog with severe, potentially life threatening issues. I am not looking for a 'quick fix'. I would think that 2 years of trying makes that evident. But I have lost a dog because of a blown recall, and 20 years hasn't lessened that fear. I have at no point said that I WILL use an ecollar on Shadow. But I would like some information, and the input of someone with much more experience on the subject. To me anyone who isn't willing to try ANY method that may help their dog is being closed minded. We may not like the means, but if it ultimately saves a dogs life then IMO it is worth it. Maybe this won't work for Shadow, but could I forgive myself if I didn't try? Or at least explore the option? Never.
Anyone who calls themselves a trainer and isn't willing to at least learn about other methods does not deserve the title. Lou has been informative and polite, even admitting a changed perspective. I sincerely hope he continues to participate in this thread.

Be Scaredy of- Me, Dawg!
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 1:48pm PST 
Excellent post, Sabi - couldn't agree more!

"Easy to say "oh, they didn't train right," but....seeing how Cain is on this thread, can contribute in this context, that cute Catahoula puppy can turn into a massive prey drive, hell bent sort of a dog. And that's not merely a training issue, that's a life endangering issue. Some people are taken quite aback and it is way beyond the scope of your local Petco trainer. And/or, if your life to that point was defined by your long country walks. Seeming him frolic in the field. And now that's dead. He's getting less exercise, is starting to eat your house. And you say "I just can't do this."

It's funny - Cain is an uber tough dog - a dog that everyone who has met him looks at in awe. A dog that is hard core tough even by Pohranicni Straze standards. I could handle Cain by lots of exercise & obedience work, and did, and he's lived a long and happy life. The Catahoulas - doing the same thing that I did with Cain would not work with them - they HAVE to have a job. Jogging with me, running around at a park are NOT enough for them - or they will eat your house, no question about it. I thank my lucky stars that I have friends who have property - who have owned/trained hog hunting, cattle working, coon treeing dogs for years, and let my dogs come to work on a regular basis. Because of these dogs, and the environment they work in - and I'm not talking about the NALC trials/shows,which, by the way, we are doing VERY well in, laugh out loud - I started exploring the use of the ecollar. You're absolutely right - it is a life endangering situation, but because of the flexibility that ecollar control gives, it is instead life - AFFIRMING for them - they get to be what Catahoulas are intended to be. Oh, and I DARE anyone who has not worked with and trained WORKING Catahoulas in the field to tell me my dogs aren't trained right. wink
Shane DEC- '08-JAN '12- RIP

In dreams I walk- with you..
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 3:11pm PST 
Just wanted to say thank you for starting this thread, and thanks to Lou for the enlightenment. Gotta admit I was one of those that thought the E-collar was mainly used on high to deliver a punishing shock.
My dogs are mainly pets and companions and as others have said I have no need for speed or precision and can get them where they need to be quite nicely using positive reinforcement and mild corrections. While I can't foresee ever using an E-collar, I am thoroughly enjoying the education and having my blinders removed.
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 3:40pm PST 
Just because I won't ever use one, does NOT mean that I'm not open to their use or willing to learn more about them. That's the main reason I'm on this thread at all is to learn about them. But just because I want to learn doesn't mean I want to use them or ever will. I simply wish to understand WHY people do and HOW they work.

I'll just say that I've had this same conversation with many people many times. Many of them have later called me and gone to an Ecollar. It was just a matter of them getting the right (wrong for their methods) dog.
Do you then deny that other methods work, or suggest that anyone using ANY other method will suddenly one day turn to ecollars just because of the way you use them and your education on them? Do you deny that positive reinforcement works for many dogs? If so, I will agree to disagree. Some of your posts suggest that you are aware dogs are individual and what might work with one dog won't necessarily work with another, but then it looks like you turn around and say that after learning of your protocol, people will turn around and start using ecollars instead.

I STILL fully disagree of their use on my Maya, and if you say that, you deny that EVERY dog is individual and certain methods will or won't work on them(INCLUDING ecollars). You did not know Maya personally, nor did you ever meet her or know the circumstances regarding her previous training before I took her in and cannot therefore tell me that ecollars would have worked/or done better on my dog. It's the same as I WILL NOT tell you that ecollars didn't work best for the dogs you worked with, I would hope for the same respect lest you met said dog of mine.

I am learning a lot though, and I do appreciate that.

I will also disagree that any one training method will be the most 'reliable'. Considering the fact that dogs are ANIMALS and always will be.

I am not a trainer and will not claim to be one, however, I have worked through several issues with several dogs and come out the other side with a happy, well-balanced dog and never touched an ecollar. Do I deny their use? Absolutely not. Will I use one? Again, no.

But I DO appreciate you coming on here, where many people are against its use, and I do appreciate that you are willing to educate people. I will thank you for that.

I would like to know HOW one can GUARANTEE their training will work on any dog. NOW THAT would be an education! laugh out loud

Edited by author Sun Dec 2, '12 3:43pm PST


Be Scaredy of- Me, Dawg!
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 4:09pm PST 
"I would like to know HOW one can GUARANTEE their training will work on any dog. NOW THAT would be an education!"

Charlie, that's done ALL of the time on here - via those that say "force free" training is the ONLY way to train.

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 4:31pm PST 

I'm curious, you say you advocate the ecollar for proofing... but what is your actual training methodology?

What do you use for enforcers? How do you actually TEACH a behavior?

If you need specifics, how would you (for instance) teach a dog focused heeling?

I admit I haven't dug too deep on your website... but on your article about teaching the "sit", you mentioned using a food lure to introduce the command, and then proceed to say after 4-5 times the dog is ready for the ecollar.

What you don't clarify, is if the dog actually knows sit after 4-5 repetitions with a food lure. From what I gather, you simply expect to lure the dog into position a few times first before moving to the collar.

Which is also slightly confusing, as proofing actually involves KNOWING the command being proofed. You do not mention if the dog is first supposed to know how to sit without use of the lure, which to me implies that by your methods the dog actually does not have to fully understand the "sit" before you introduce the collar. Which I'm not wholly convinced is "proofing".

Herpaderp-apotam- us
Barked: Sun Dec 2, '12 6:23pm PST 
I would like to thank everyone who is involved in this discussion as it has been very enlightening.

I first started seriously looking into e-collars a couple years ago when I discovered Michael Ellis and discovered, like many of you, that it's not just "shock the dog when it's bad." I actually went out and bought a collar but as of yet don't feel comfortable using it with Noah (I'd be using it for proofing mostly). I feel like I need to do a bit more learning on the nitty gritty of its use. Plus I'm still having a hard time getting beyond the "I don't want to hurt my dog" mindset, even though I put the collar on my arm and felt exactly what he would be feeling and know it doesn't hurt.

Even if I never do end up using it on Noah, I think it's very important that I, as someone who wants to make dog training a full time job, knows how e-collars work and how to implement them, very important. I've always felt that trainers who say they "will never use (x,y,z) when they train dogs," seriously limits themselves, whether x,y,z be e-collars, food or anything else. Every dog is trained differently.
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