Every once in a while we still encounter resistance when we bring up the idea of remote collar training. The resistance is not nearly as frequent as it was 15 years ago when we started offering this way of training, but it still happens from time to time.
Why would I want to use a ‘shock collar’ on my dog? That is the question that people ask. Honestly, I can’t answer that because I don’t think I am shocking the dog. What I can respond to is why I made the choice to incorporate e-collars into my training all those years ago and why it has become my go-to tool for most of the dogs I train now.
1. Better control: Initially my desire for learning to use a remote collar was driven from a need to have better control of one of my personal dogs. I had a Boxer who had some serious dog aggression issues. Not the kind that are based in reactivity if another dog “started it”, but the real kind of dog aggression that made her a potential danger to other dogs and a liability for me. I’d worked with her for 2 years on trying to solve the problem and had made progress but still could not trust her during those situations where my attention might get distracted. She was one of those dogs who would take advantage of weakness, and she did if she found an opportunity. The e-collar training I learned afforded me that ability to gain greater control and keep her out of trouble and other dogs safe from harm.
2. Off leash ability: Within a short period of time it became apparent to me how quickly and easily I could help my clients to transition to off leash training when we added an e-collar to the training mix. Training to an off leash standard had previously taken months, if not years of work. Now we could get there in weeks.
3. Safety and Peace of Mind: Once the off leash training was in place, the peace of mind was huge. Within a few short weeks of training we could give our dogs the joy of freedom off leash and feel totally confident they would be safe because they would come back when called, every time.
4. Easier Learning Curve: As I progressed into teaching others how to use the equipment, I saw a dramatic increase in my client’s level of success. The techniques of using the remote collar were easier to emulate for the average person. No longer did clients have to master the level of finesse I had with a leash, or their voice control or their strength and quickness. The consistency between handlers was always there because of the equipment. A petite woman could walk a large, strong dog just as well as her husband could.
5. Reduced frustration: Because the results were faster and easier to achieve, the frustration level for people struggling with behavioral problems in their dogs dropped. No longer did it take weeks of practice to see slight changes in behavior. People were seeing results after one session, and that gave them hope and the motivation to carry on trying to resolve the challenges. Less people were “giving up” and relinquishing their dogs to shelters, rehoming or euthanasia.
6. Increased desire to learn more: Because success breeds success I suddenly had clients who were coming to class because it was fun, AND their dogs were improving dramatically. They weren’t coming because they felt an obligation to “go to dog class”. The accelerated pace of learning empowered them and fueled a desire to do more with their dogs. Suddenly we were filling advanced classes, tricks and retrieve classes, hiking classes, swimming classes, agility and more.
7. Easier on the dogs: The final reason that pushed me over the edge in promoting e-collar training was the most powerful one. It was SO much easier on the dogs. The information presented to them was clear and consistent, and who can ask more than that when you are learning something new? The clarity meant the dogs “got it” almost immediately, and they were happier, calmer and more stable as a result of this way of training.
E-collar simply is a tool that is amazing and can benefit so many dog / human relationships. Like anything, the key is learning to implement the tool properly. Once people learn that skill, they never again call it a ‘shock collar’, and they never ask “Why would I want to use one?”