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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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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 6:24am PST 
Augusta,- CGC, RN wrote,
In this video the ecollar is being used to help a dog that is having trouble with his out, which seems to be a sensible way to use the collar to me. But even as he's getting better, it does seem the dog is conflicted, he spins around the decoy before he'll go back to his handler . . . ."


I hope you don't think that this is "what can be accomplished with an Ecollar." It's not very strong work. As you say the dog is conflicted and this is for a number of reasons. One is that this trainer is using the tool on momentary, rather than continuous. In this mode it's nothing but a correction, there's no guidance information there and so the dog is anticipating it, without really being sure of what's going on. He's not been shown why it occurs. Notice that the dog's tail is almost straight up. This is a sign that he's loading up. I'll bet that dog is on his way to biting that handler, if he keep up that sort of work. The tail flag in that situation is a sign that the dog is working in rank, and that a challenge to the handler is on its way. Hear the screaming just before the dog outs? That's from the Ecollar.

This trainer is working from the place of teaching a behavior, "Do it because I said do it" and is not using the dog's drives. In fact he's working against the dog's drives. Another discussion that's too long and is off-topic in this thread.

Regards, Lou
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 6:27am PST 
Augusta,- CGC, RN wrote, "If you're still around Lou, could you tell us how k9's who wouldn't release a bite were handled before the use of the e-collar . . . .. "

Still here Augusta ... lol. Back in the day, lots of force was used to get the out. The usual collars were used, escalating from a buckle collar > fur saver > choke chain > pinch collar. Some skipped some steps. Some went to collars that made me shudder. Ever seen a nail collar? It's a fursaver with nails, with the heads cut off and both ends sharpened, welded across the links so they sit at right angles to the links. Some went to flanking, grabbing a big handful of skin on the dog's flank and twisting. Lots of people were using reed sticks, (not today's padded sticks) smashing them on the dog's head, feet, and/or across the bridge of his muzzle.

But none of this is necessary if you spend a few more minutes in setting up training so that you're working WITH, rather than against, the dog's drives.

Augusta,- CGC, RN wrote, "It does seem like this has to be more humane than having to wrangle a dog from a person physically . . .. "

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Many trainers are just using the Ecollar as part of the "progression of pain." They'll crank it up to the highest level and use it almost like dynamite "to blast" the dog off the bite. Usually this results in the dog's bite weakening and other problems occurring, such as the dog REFUSING to bite or to leave the handler's side. I just watched a trainer do this to a dog, at a seminar I was also teaching at, a few months ago. Other problems include, biting but very weakly, "typewriting" (moving around on the sleeve) and releasing prematurely, in anticipation of getting blasted again.

Some trainers who work like this will put two Ecollars on the dog (I've heard of people putting on more). I've also seen some trainers take the next step in electricity, going to a cattle prod, a tool used to get the attention of 1,500 lb animals, whose skin is so thick that we make shoes from it! I've seen that tool applied to a dog's testicles. We're well into abuse when a trainer does that.

Working like this puts the dog on a "teeter totter." At one end of the board is "control." And at the other end is "quality of the bite." When control is high, the bite is weak. Conversely, when the bite is good, control is weak. This is directly related to the verbal out. You'd be surprised at how many LE handlers do not have one. So far this year LEO's have shot/killed about 10 police dogs who bit police officers and either would not release the bite when commanded to do so, or tried to rebite against a command.

I required, and still do, that every hander be able to out his dog from 100 yards away with a verbal command.

Augusta,- CGC, RN wrote, "And do military/police handlers use the collar regularly in the field or for training only?"

It varies quite a bit. Some handlers don't use Ecollars at all and some field the dog with them on.

Augusta,- CGC, RN wrote, "Now I'm curious about drug detection dogs . . .. we saw a demo with a narcotics dog in our nosework class and his reward was his tennis ball. The handler said they look for dogs who are ball crazy because food motivated/trained dogs among other problems would give a legal defense an opening . . . 'your honor, the dog must have been alerting to my client's roast beef sandwich . . .' "

At least one national agency that uses detection dogs trains them with food. In fact, that's how those dogs get their regular feeding, by making finds during training. They are not fed otherwise. With that fella's dog (the one in the demo that you saw) the defense can say, "Your honor, the dog must have been alerting to my client's tennis racket and tennis balls." To counter such arguments, EVERY good detection dog handler proofs his dog off such things as food, toys, etc. The "look[ing] for ball crazy" dogs is common in the industry these days, but it's a heavily flawed system from start to finish. Again, another long discussion that's off-topic for this thread.

Augusta,- CGC, RN wrote, "I can't picture how a detection dog would be helped with ecollar training . . ."

I don't advocate the use of the Ecollar in detection work for most handlers. It can be used with dogs trained with handler supplied rewards (the way that the overwhelming majority of detection dogs just about everywhere are trained these days) when problems arise with false alerting, which BTW is rife in such a system. But it takes a very skilled trainer to use the tool like that. Too heavy a hand, or some bad timing, and you can damage the work. But those dogs need a few OB commands, at least a recall, and that can be trained with the Ecollar.

Augusta,- CGC, RN wrote, "there's no inherent drive to seek marijuana or bombs, for that matter . . . doesn't that have to be made meaningful to the dog by being paired with a positive reward for the dog?"

Not in a drive training system. There, dogs are selected for their level of prey drive. The training has them believing that they are searching for real prey, such as a rat, and that is a naturally driven behavior for a dog with prey drive. The results are much better than in systems that have the handler supplying a reward for the dog making a find. AGAIN, another discussion that's off-topic in this thread.

Regards, Lou
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 6:28am PST 
Sabi wrote,
"Lou the collar I borrowed is a Dogtra 1900. Shadow walks around shaking her head, periodically stopping to randomly bark. I have turned it down and then I get no reaction at all. As soon as she can feel it she starts moving again. She isn't afraid or freaking out, she seems confused and a bit annoyed. Not sure what to do with that or if its normal. I will need to save a bit for a collar so I would like to use the borrowed one if I can, at least for a while."


Sabi I'm greatly relieved that this is the brand of Ecollar that you got to try out. The head shake is one of the signs that dogs show that they're feeling the stim.

I'd bet that she is confused. There's nothing in a dog's experience that prepares them for the sensation of an Ecollar. She has no idea of what it is, and shaking, you'll probably soon see some scratching, isn't making it stop. Of course she's annoyed. It's an irritating sensation.

The fact that when you turn it down, you "get no reaction at all" is a demonstration of how important it is to be using the right tool for the job.

My suggestion is to read the article on fitting the Ecollar to the dog and finding the dog's working level of stim. CLICK HERE. And then the article on teaching the recall. CLICK HERE. Then go to work. I suggest that people read the recall article a couple of time, visualizing themselves actually doing the work that's described there. Then go out and do it. If you have a training partner, have them read it and go watch you do the work. That way, if you make a mistake, they might see it.

After your first session, go back and read the article again. Often people see things on that read, that they missed and didn't do.

Regards, Lou
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 6:28am PST 
Earlier I wrote, "I've proven that this theory works dozens of times now, and that it works better than theories that are providing rewards for behaviors."

Mulder wrote, "Wow Lou, "better" sure is a heavy word you used there

Anyway to objectively prove that?"


Is it "heavy?" Not sure what that means in this context. Anyway, I've proven it to myself and others over and over. I was training a dog when I got into this stuff. His work was pretty darned good, if I do say so. But when I started using his drives directly, the work improved by a quantum leap, and the conflicts that sometimes came up, disappeared. Since then I've done a buncha seminars on it and the attendees have consistently told me that they've seen great improvements in their work. I doubt that there's any way to "objectively prove" it though. I don't know of a way to measure such things as a "decrease in conflict" and "better searching."

But I understand your skepticism. I've encountered it repeatedly from people on the Net and even when doing a presentation on it in person. But people who have seen it, have become believers. But the status quo has a very strong pull.

Mulder wrote, "Other than your "the dog went for a ball" anecdote?"

Well, in this field, an LEO searching for crooks, that's a horror show. When it happens the handler isn't even just a police officer with a gun searching in the dark for a dangerous felon. Now he's a highly distracted police officer searching in the dark for a dangerous felon! That puts him in extreme danger. Imagine the SAR dog that's supposed to be looking for a lost child, instead finding a tennis ball and happily going off to play with it.

But it's not just that. In the video that Augusta linked to there are all sort of issues going on there. The conflict that she mentions, pervades just about everything that's going on there, from the weak bite, to the very slow out, to the imminent handler aggression. Those things don't occur with drive training.

Earlier I wrote, "Even if we don't they still try to lick our faces, avert their eyes when we're angry and "fawn" when trying to appease us, just as they do with other dogs."

Mulder wrote, "... what sort of dogs are we talking about here?
Mulder would just as soon die and roll over in his grave than lick my face or prance around trying to appease me.

Maybe that's the sort of relationship you like, or that makes you comfortable. Maybe a dog who will look you dead in the eye in your hottest moment and hold steady in your worst fit of anger, isn't the dog you care to own.

Vastly different expectations"


Mulder I guess I wasn't clear enough because you apparently missed my point. Dogs can only relate to us as they relate to one another. The same signals, displays of dominance, submission, aggression, fear, etc., that they show to other dogs, they show to us. I mentioned face licking and appeasement only because most people here are pet owners and they can identify with those things.

It's vital in the search dog field that the dog not think that he's the leader. If he does he's not going to follow the directions of the handler who, while he doesn't have the instincts that the dog does, knows what area is to be searched.

Regards, Lou
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 6:29am PST 
G2 wrote, "Could the "not feeding" be the difference? These dogs know they're going to be fed and when they're with the cows they know it's to work, not hunt. They know they'll get fed in the evening after the work is done, so it's to their advantage to get busy. The folks that have been in this a while say the old timers will shoot a dog that gets "coyote" with a calf - they see that as a character flaw. Wonder if this type of hard core culling has diminished that instinctual predatory response?"

I think that this kind of culling will definitely affect the tendency of the breed.

Earlier I wrote, "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."

G2 wrote, "Exactly - you can't really teach the things these dogs need to know - you can maximize their potential, but if they don't have it, you're not going to be able to create it."

Earlier I wrote, "Where are you located?"

And G2 responded, "Texas - where else?"

I came back with, "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."

G2 now writes, "Other states???"

Thereby winning the game, set and match. ROFL.

Regards, Lou
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Sabi

When the night- closes in I will- be there
 
 
Barked: Thu Dec 6, '12 2:26pm PST 
Just wanted to give everyone an update on Shadow and her ecollar. I have hit a couple of snags but they are fixable. I hope. She is now tripping me when we go out which I have been working on. Aside from the recall which is improving when I can get her to leave me, I have been using the collar to remind her to stay off the fence. In this it is working brilliantly. I suspect that like everything with Shadow the training will progress at a slower level then average but based on what I am seeing I am hopeful that come spring I will get to watch her running in the fields. cheer That was really my goal for her.
Thanks Lou for the guidance and Thanks Tiller for the push. I will update both of you at a later date but I am optimistic for the first time in months. I never would have tried this on my own and Tiller you pointed out months ago that I was too close to her. Turns out you were right and thats something I need to fix.
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Member Since
11/27/2012
 
 
Barked: Thu Dec 6, '12 6:19pm PST 
Thanks very much for the update Sabi. You made my day!
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G2

Be Scaredy of- Me, Dawg!
 
 
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 8:56pm PST 
That's pretty fabulous! big grin
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Jackson Tan

Lad about town
 
 
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 10:55pm PST 
Great news, Sabi. smile
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