FINDING YOUR DOGS
You want to work the dog at the
lowest level of stimulation that he can just perceive. Put the dog on a
leash and take him outside. Let him settle down so he's not fixated on
anything or highly distracted by anything. With some dogs it may take a few
minutes for him to settle down. If he's sniffing the ground, he's
distracted. If he's looking at something and his ears are standing up (for
dogs whose ears do this) he's distracted. When his ears relax and stick out
to the side rather than straight up, he's ready to check his level.
For the Dogtra Ecollar,
set the dial on "0" and press the button. Hold it down and very
slowly turn it up. After about 5-6 seconds release the button then press and
hold it again. Continue to SLOWLY turn the dial up until you see some sign
that the dog is feeling the stimulation. There are many such signs. One of the
most common is that the dog will sit down and scratch as if a flea is biting
him. Some signs are subtler than that though. They include an ear flick, a
quick look at the ground directly in front of the dog, a pulling back as if a
grasshopper landed on the dog, a rearing up, moving to another place, locking
up (rigidity of the legs). Sometimes all that is noticeable is a furrowing of
the dog's brow.
The technique is just a
little bit different for any other brand of Ecollar because of the different
way that the stimulation level is set. For the TriTronics collars set it on
the lowest level of stimulation available. Press the button and check for a
result. For those Ecollars that have three buttons that give you a low for one
button, medium for the other and high for both together, press the "low
button." If the dog doesn't respond, go to the next level on the dial and
press the "low button." Use only the "low" button until
you find the dog's level. This allows you to use the medium and high buttons
when the dog ignores you later in the training.
A dog may vocalize and
rear up. There are two reasons that a dog will vocalize with an Ecollar
stimulation. One is that he's in pain. Since I'm using the continuous mode, if
this is the reason that a dog is vocalizing,
he'll continue to
vocalize as long as I hold down the button. If this is occurring YOU'RE TOO
HIGH. Another reason that a dog may vocalize is from surprise. Think of
yourself sitting in a theater watching a scary movie. Someone taps you on the
shoulder and you jump and involuntarily make a noise. This is not from being
hurt; it's from being startled. I think that the first reason given for a dog
to vocalize is unfair, especially at the teaching phase of using the Ecollar
but the second reason is acceptable. The dog isn't being hurt; he's just being
One giveaway that the
dog is surprised is that he only vocalizes for an instant, even though
continuous stimulation is being applied. If he was being hurt, he'd continue
to vocalize as long as the button was being eld down because it would continue
to hurt. If you're using the nick or tap mode and the dog vocalizes each time
the button is pressed, YOU'RE TOO HIGH.
When the dog shows you
that he just perceives the stimulation level, you've found his working level.
This may change slightly up or down. Some dogs become used to that level and
it will need to be shifted up a touch. Some
dogs become sensitized
to that level and it will need to be turned down. You may find that the
continuous stimulation button is too intense for your dog, even just a slight
movement from the "off" position of the rheostat. It's rare but it
does happen. If your dog reacts very strongly, usually shown by constant
vocalization and rearing up, you may have to go to the nick button to work
him. This can be done but the communication isn't as effective. AND you'll
have to keep pressing the button while others are just holding it down.
Your dog's working level
may change from day to day. You should verify that it hasn't changed by
checking it every time you take him out to work him. Start out just a bit
lower than where you normally work him. Wait till he's not distracted and
press the button. You might find that today, he's working at that lower level.
If he makes no sign that he feels it; you can go back to his usual level. If
he's ignoring you completely, you might need to go a touch higher.
COPYRIGHT 2002, Lou Castle
Regards,Lou Castle, Los Angeles, CA
This has been an interesting subject and perhaps
now that the smoke has cleared a little I may be able to shed a little light on
the proper use of the remote training collar (e-collar). I think those that use
clicker techniques will find e-collar training is not so far apart from their
theories and applications.
The examples given by board participants
regarding electric fences are clear examples of the misunderstanding of the
application and desired results of electricity. I also have a hunch that the
physical technology of remote collar has not advanced in the UK (or the rest of
Europe for that matter). Trainers are therefore restricted to their experience
with one level (usually high) archaic pieces of equipment. I will say from the
outset that the use of these prehistoric collars is brutal, cruel, and limits a
trainer to pure punishment training. The old one level collars restricted the
trainer to employing a dominance based system using brutal force and fear to
establish their Alpha status. Once that status was established the brutality
continued using high levels of electricity to pattern train the dog. Worse yet,
many trainers used this device on a one or two time basis to "fix" a
problem – typically the dog failing to release from the bite. In this
circumstance the trainer would fry the dog for several seconds or until the dog
complied with the command. As we know, many, many dogs have been destroyed using
these brutal techniques. Unfortunately this is the predominate use, image, and
reputation of the remote training collar. If this is the type of remote collar
most list members are referring to as I suspect, then you are right to condemn
their use. I certainly do!
On the other hand, there have been incredible
advancements in the technology here in the States – The high end equipment is
cheaper than ever. The model I use allows me to select 18 varied levels from the
transmitter with a one mile line of sight range. This feature enables me to
achieve more than one goal during a single training exercise.
Lou Castle correctly pointed out that the goal
of a knowledgeable trainer is to work the dog on as low a level as possible.
Employing too high a level of stimulation causes pain and conflict – and
conflict causes confusion. Confusion results in unreliability and an unreliable
police dog will get somebody hurt or killed.
An interesting point is that in fact, if used
properly, the remote collar actually eliminates the conflict between dog and
handler. I can’t count the number of genetically handler sensitive dogs I have
trained that are working on the street today because of the remote collar. The
e-collar has actually allowed us to move away from Koehler as well as other
dominance oriented force techniques and concentrate on channeling the properly
selected dog’s instinctual skills. It has afforded me the ability to train for
the job rather than an exercise or certification. It allows me to be fair to the
dog, rather than an unreasonable boss that punishes his subordinate for
violation of rules he knows nothing about. It enables me to keep the dog focused
and on task without resorting to tricks, rewards, or brutal force.
1999 Donn Yarnall All Rights Reserved