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Electronic Dog Collars

Electronic Dog Collars "The Shocking Truth"

No topic in the dog training world sparks more heated and divisive debate than the "Electronic Dog Collar," or the e-collar.

Is it useful or damaging?

Ask ten people and you are likely to get five answers on one side and five on the other, and none in between.

After 30 years of training, I can honestly say the e-collar is the greatest dog training invention ever. It is also the worst training tool ever. I don't mean to sound indecisive but that truly is the way it is. For people trained in its proper use, it is an invaluable tool. For those who don't have experience with it, they can ruin a dog very quickly.

On one side you have the group that takes the politically correct position. That position in today's dog training world is to be against e-collars or any other perceived form of “Punishment,” either “Positive” or “Negative,” as defined by the Skinnerian Operant Conditioning model. The truth of the matter is that the E-Collar is just another training tool as is the leash, the martingale, or the Halti head collar.

Unfortunately, this group associates the e-collar with a form of punishment that has an ugly, inhuman connotation. The e-collar, however, delivers no harsher a correction than an exhausted mother bitch nipping at a persistently rude puppy. “Punishment” in the Operant Conditioning model is defined as the adding or removing of something that will make a behavior less likely to occur.

Today the internet is fraught with members of this group made up of mostly “clicker” and/or "treat" trainers who advertise their “100% Positive training” to clients who don't want to punished their dogs in any way. These trainers often are very successful with this marketing approach. In my opinion, however, they either are not being honest or are not knowledgeable when it comes to their own training methods By definition a punishment is a penalty inflicted on an offender or the loss of something desired that serves as retribution. Consider this then: during this 100% positive training method when "Spot" is denied a treat for not sitting, is he not being punished? Just saying!

Most so called “Positive” trainers have not been trained themselves in the proper use of the e-collar and are not familiar with the tremendous benefits it can deliver, which leads to their negative outlook on the e-collar based on lack of knowledge. Interestingly enough, most will support electric fences but not the e-collar when in fact they both work on the identical premise. I guess it is human nature to knock or disparage what is not understood.

On the other dog training hand, is the group that has seen the benefits and understands the usefulness of the e-collar. Although this group is not without its subset of people that don’t know how to either properly use the e-collar or rely on it excessively, most e-collar users have learned how to successfully incorporate it into their training regimen.

Professional hunting dog trainer’s like Ronnie Smith, George Wilcox and Jim & Phyllis Dobbs just to name a few have been successfully using e-collars for many many years. I am sure they would back me up, when I state that if you don’t know how to use an e-collar don’t use it until you get proper direction.

That being said the e-collar gives you many benefits such as long distance control which can’t be gained from any other training tool and the ability to perfect your timing in certain situations. The e-collar is super effective when dealing with certain behavioral issues. Take unwanted “digging” for example. When used properly the dog does not associate the stimulation with the handler but rather with the unwanted act of digging thus correcting the behavior.

In conclusion, the one thing that all trainers should agree on is that a lack of understanding, knowledge or exposure to specific training tools should not lead to a premature evaluation of it’s effectiveness. The E-Collar being no different.

For any questions feel free to contact Jorge A. Fleming with K9-Training Specialist, LLC in Maryland at 301-980-2204 or through our contact form.

Tags: Dog training Puppy training Behavior modification

Jorge A. Fleming MS, CCTBS

Jorge A. Fleming is the owner and founder of K9-Training Specialist, LLC. Jorge has a Masters in Science and is a Certified Canine Trainer and Behavioral Specialist. For over 30 years, Jorge has been living with, training, evaluating and researching canine training and behavior.

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