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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am hoping this thread will be an open discussion of a topic that can be heated with some people (both pro and con!). The topic can be emotional and I hope we can discuss as knowledge seeking and sharing as opposed to emotion based responses.

I do use an electronic training collar on my dog(s). I usually introduce the collar when the dog is over a year old. That introduction is usually for either barking (in the truck at training) or for that adolescent dog that that has suddenly "forgotten" all they have learned and blows off a recall.

After they have been introduced to the collar, they where one whenever we train or do anything. The collar may not even be turned on and the remote may not be with me. It is just part of their "outfit" like a fursaver or flat leather collar.

My collars have different stimulus levels (most do these days). For correction IN training the level is only as high as needed and that is dependent on the dog's drive. Usually the drive is different and lower in Obedience routine training so the level of stim is lower. In protection (in my chosen sport) the collar is again used for obedience but at a higher level as the dog is in higher drive (usually) and less likely to even hear the command cue.

ALWAYS the dog is given the option of obedience for a reward without correction as the first rule of training.

A good many trainers also use the e collar stim at a very low level to increase the dog's drive and desire to work (I know.. seems counter-intuitive). They will "tap tap tap" and then reward hugely so that eventually the collar actually increases the dog's intensity and focus because the tap tap means "An absolutely AWESOME reward coming."

Some people also do this with a pinch collar.. tug tug tug and then reward so the "correction" doesn't really correct but brings the dog up HIGHER. I am not very good at this aspect of training but will give it a brief go on my young dog. Very quickly I will see if it works or not and abandon it if it doesn't work.

VERY IMPORTANT is to NEVER "fry the dog" or use the collar out of anger or frustration or on a dog that does not know what is being asked. E collar fails are usually the result of using them on a dog that does NOT really know what is being asked and how to correctly respond OR being improperly introduced to a dog for the first time.

LAST: Electronic collars are NOT for every dog or every handler. I know of a very high drive dog that does not need an electronic collar because the dog is so high in pack drive (but still powerful on the training and trial field). I know of another dog that doesn't even blink at the highest level of stim (this dog should be a Police Dog and is not really a good sport dog and the dog is a female.. very good dog and unusual).

That is my take.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No. Not at all.
Electronic collars and their use is (perhaps) interesting as its own topic.

IOW's when to use/not use. How to use appropriately and so forth. This is a specific tool about which there are many thoughts and ideas. I am not trying to (nor do I want to) sell the use of e collars to anyone at all. In fact, a lot of people get them and use them quite wrong to the disadvantage of the dog. Saying just "Don't use" conveys no knowledge. Saying "use them" also conveys no knowledge. Certainly if you were discussing clicker techniques you would go more in depth than just saying "use treats."

I use an electronic collar but that does not mean you should. Perhaps there are ways I could be more effective in its use and perhaps there are ways I could use something different to get a better or more reliable result.

In some countries E Collars are illegal and in some both E Collars AND pinches are illegal. How do people in those places train without these tools when they have a very high drive dog? What are they doing that does not turn into an obvious crutch (like a long line on a super driven dog in the back transport).

I am always willing to learn a new way to do something. I already have and use a lot of those things. I want to train the dog to a high level of competition in a high drive sport and have the dog work out to roughly "4 years to train, 4 years to trial and 4 years retired."

I am open to new ideas.

Also, E Collars are NOT just training collars in the traditional sense. They are also used to quiet barking and to contain dogs in "invisible fences." I have opinions on those things but more thoughts and discussion besides my own should give greater knowledge and insight through open discussion. Might change my mind. Might not.

There are some really good trainers on this forum (whether I always agree or not). I like to intellectualize.

That is it. What more can we all learn.
 

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No. Not at all.
Electronic collars and their use is (perhaps) interesting as its own topic.

IOW's when to use/not use. How to use appropriately and so forth. This is a specific tool about which there are many thoughts and ideas. I am not trying to (nor do I want to) sell the use of e collars to anyone at all. In fact, a lot of people get them and use them quite wrong to the disadvantage of the dog. Saying just "Don't use" conveys no knowledge. Saying "use them" also conveys no knowledge. Certainly if you were discussing clicker techniques you would go more in depth than just saying "use treats."

I use an electronic collar but that does not mean you should. Perhaps there are ways I could be more effective in its use and perhaps there are ways I could use something different to get a better or more reliable result.

In some countries E Collars are illegal and in some both E Collars AND pinches are illegal. How do people in those places train without these tools when they have a very high drive dog? What are they doing that does not turn into an obvious crutch (like a long line on a super driven dog in the back transport).

I am always willing to learn a new way to do something. I already have and use a lot of those things. I want to train the dog to a high level of competition in a high drive sport and have the dog work out to roughly "4 years to train, 4 years to trial and 4 years retired."

I am open to new ideas.

Also, E Collars are NOT just training collars in the traditional sense. They are also used to quiet barking and to contain dogs in "invisible fences." I have opinions on those things but more thoughts and discussion besides my own should give greater knowledge and insight through open discussion. Might change my mind. Might not.

There are some really good trainers on this forum (whether I always agree or not). I like to intellectualize.

That is it. What more can we all learn.
I use on one on my dogs all the time when I have them off leash. Vary rarely have to actually shock them with it on and if I do it's on the lowest setting it can be on to where they still feel the shock as a just in case they don't listen and try to take off after a animal.


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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I do likewise for hiking alone in the woods.

Here is something sort of "creepy." At the bottom of the thread there is advertising.. and it is for electronic collars. NOT THE MESSAGE I INTENDED! :nono:
 

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I do likewise for hiking alone in the woods.

Here is something sort of "creepy." At the bottom of the thread there is advertising.. and it is for electronic collars. NOT THE MESSAGE I INTENDED! :nono:
Haha. And that's the only way I will have my dogs off leash I with a shock collar cause I have had one of my dogs take off after a rabbit before luckily it was super early in the morning and the dog came back. But I don't trust that during the day she would come back so I keep one on them when off leash.


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I have to tell how I was introduced to collars many years ago. Back then they were not as adjustable as they are now.

There were two or three fixed adjustments, Low med and high. These were adjustable in about three levels each too. But they were fixed or mechanically adjusted. Three button controls.

The trainer set it up like a school class...except the rule was he would explain only once, you were expected to understand on a one time lesson. Then we each assembled the e collar system for use on our dogs as we felt they might need. The trainer already had his.....only one power level...max. It was almost like today’s stun gun.

Then rule two, the trainer has us put his collar on our leg! Oh oh! He said if we used the collar incorrectly or used as a weapon for misbehavior on our dogs, he would “ correct” us. Some people got really upset and stomped off the field after getting “ juiced”. Those of us that survived got a pretty good understanding of how these work and how to use them very quickly. My comment was, after getting up off the ground, if my calculus instructor had had the transmitter in school I would have learned the subject in weeks that took 4+ years. LOL

I know this is a touchy subject but I’m glad the OP posted this. He has posted some good thoughts on training and espically on the very high drive dogs. I’ll follow along and only comment sparingly.

I currently don’t use one as I’m not competing anymore. I think properly used they are better than prongs or chains. Use it guide the dog to correct action not punish the dog.
 

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Ok I'll bite. I do appreciate a more intellectual discussion and am not here for the echo chamber effect where naysayers say NAY. I do flat out disagree with the uses mentioned here, but that's just my training methodology and ethics.

Here are a few odds and ends that stick out for me.

-This was not addressed directly enough. E-collars have the potential to increase anxiety, reactivity, and aggression. They can flat out ruin a dog. "Can" doesn't mean "will." But paired with the below point, it truly makes for a discouraging picture...

-MOST people are using it wrong. It's all fine and dandy if the tool is used to redirect a dog, acts as a secondary reinforcer, or a harmless prompt for attention. I do agree that it isn't a bad sensation on certain dogs, on the right dog and used in a positive way. However, all the so-called "good" e-collar trainers have this huge list of very particular things you need to do or not do to use the tool "correctly". Yet they sell these devices right off the shelves to consumers who don't even understand basic learning theory. If I teach a person reinforcement-based training and their knowledge is a little lacking, or their timing is a bit off, they usually still get some good results and there really is no harm from the methods. So my first complaint is this is a tool that is widely marketed, commonly used, and hard to "correctly" use. I think dog training should be fun and easy for all parties involved. I invite children to participate in my classes. A tool that has a running list of potential red flags does not make it accessible for the common pet owning population.

-Not only are the unintended consequences of improper use negative, but they can be downright dangerous. People have inadvertently used e-collars to erase bite inhibition. In fact, a few weeks ago when I was involved in the discussion on the other thread about training techniques, I closed DF and went onto Facebook... And right in front was a post from a woman who needed stitches at the hospital because a dog owner INVITED the woman to pet their dog who was sitting. The woman did not know that the owner was stimming the dog the entire time. So the dog went from sitting to delivering a level 4 bite (my opinion based on the photos) out of the blue. (My FB is not inundated with dog-things, btw. And in fact it is rare for me to see any dog posts on my page). This is one out of many examples.

-I find it redundant. For a dog that is amped up by, or responds to, touch (like my Dutch, who loves it when I slap him around quite hard), I would rather teach a dog to respond to MY touch. For a dog that would blow off verbal but respond to the stim as a prompt, I would teach a dog to respond to an audial cue before it would be at that distance. For a dog that knows the stim as a marker or secondary reinforcer, I would use my voice or other audial signal instead. I've heard "but what about dogs with super high prey drive who 'don't hear you' when you call them?" and I find that by going back to square one and, without using aversive tools, teaching impulse control games... and especially impulse control games centered around prey drive (tug, fetch, flirt pole)... you can teach a dog to "hear" you. It's called the process of learning. Most people go through Acquisition and Fluency and use aversive tools so they don't REALLY need to work on Generalization. Then, the e-collar stays on for Maintenance. With dogs who are harder to motivate, I think owners should control more motivators and the dog should get very few things for free. And let's say, you have a dog who doesn't respond to verbal cues when on a chase so you 'correctly' used an e-collar. The stim is low, the dog has learned to like the collar, and the stim prompts the dog out of chasing and has it come back to you.Happy dog.... Okay, so in theory you could pair a verbal cue with the stim and teach a dog to respond to verbal, then fade the stim. But somehow e-collar users don't do it that way and the dog is always on the collar. All of this suggests to me, that the e-collar is used IN LIEU of going through a well though out training plan to build impulse control.
So for the examples listed, barking in the truck... Not-reacting has not been generalized in the truck. For blowing off cues during adolescence... Dogs' brains are changing during this time. Things in the environment become more motivating and they no longer feel the need to cling to their person for safety. When the environment becomes more motivating, I become more motivating, I use stricter management, or I lower my expectations and restructure my training plan. Using an aversive tool during this time is indicative of the owner unwilling to work through it using positive means, not that positive means are ineffective.

Here's how I trained my Dutch to be VERY calm in vehicles. He is very quick to react, and I could see him being the kind of dog that paces in the back seat, snapping at wind, whining and barking at stimuli. When he was a puppy he rode in a draped crate. Then, an undraped crate. I would NEVER let him out unless he offered a down. If he was standing I would stand outside the car and wait for him to lie down, only then would I open the car door. If he got up, I would shut the car door again. No cues given. He only got out of the car if he chose to maintain in a down until I said otherwise. So, his default behavior for vehicles is to lie down and be calm. When I removed the crate, the behavior was still there. When I put him into a different vehicle, the behavior was still there. He chooses to stand sometimes when I leave him in the vehicle. I don't care if he ends up barking at passerbyers, but at 1 year old he has not. I also did (and still do, as I am aware he has not reached his adult mentality yet) plenty of CC/DS games with people and all sorts of stimuli as we go many places. I know that dogs don't generalize well, but I think the consistency and intensity that I applied to this training is helping him generalize quicker. But.... Who wants to do all these things, right? ;)

I know my Dutch is a Dutch and I am aware that he innately has a high desire to please and work with me. However, I have seen positive techniques and very reasonable amounts of management used to successfully train many different kinds of dogs. There was a very textbook Husky in my shelter who then took a class when she was adopted. In the shelter, she refused all but raw chicken. Not even hotdogs were appealing to her. And even raw chicken was just 'okay' to her. She was an escape artist and could clear 6' fences with ease. She was a chicken killer. She acted like she'd never been on a leash before. In class... Here was this husky doing amazing recalls (on a long line), outside, surrounded by dogs, for treats and a chance to play tug. Sure, she didn't appreciate the repetition that the shepherd/X enjoyed. My rottie/retriever is very environmentally motivated and when I used to use aversive tools (prong collar. But I would have used an e-collar if someone had put it in my hands instead) I struggled with recall. His recall is amazing and has been for many years now. I have many other stories. For better or for worse, I have a large and diverse population to work with. But point being, I have never met a dog who I thought was untrainable, unmanageable, or unsafe enough that an e-collar (or other aversive tool) would be needed.

So at the end of the day, I think Ian Dunbar said it best: "To use shock as an effective dog training method you will need: A thorough understanding of canine behaviour. A thorough understanding of learning theory. Impeccable timing. And if you have those three things, you don't need a shock collar."

ETA. My last reason for not liking them and this is personal... I am lazy. I like simple. I don't want to carry around something with batteries. My equation for training is to quickly get to needing as few things as possible when I take my dogs out. My dogs can hike naked, no leash, no harness or line, and I am not worried at all (roads, deer, other dogs, people, traps on public land, blind turns, etc.), even without treats in my pocket. Honestly, I am more worried about a hunter accidentally shooting my dogs than I am of my dogs doing something bad. If I want to train, it's so much easier to carry some snacks in my pocket. I don't need to fumble for it because by the time I reach for them my dogs have ALREADY performed the desired behavior.
 

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I agree with everything you said but also:

Lazy. I am LAZY. I find it a much more efficient use of my time to train what I want and give the dog a treat than to play 'whack a mole' trying to get rid of undesirable behaviors. Maybe my dogs are exceptionally intelligent (or exceptionally stupid) but if I try to teach my dogs NOT to do something... well, they'll stop doing that, but they'll run through 9 billion other related behaviors that I also don't want.

So 'don't jump on people' becomes 'what if I stand up and hover in front of them but don't touch them?' 'what if I jump UP at their faces but also don't touch them?' 'what if I spin in circles in front of them?' 'what if I sit up and beg' 'what if I demand bark at them?' 'what if I lick them?' 'what if I climb convenient things so I can get in their face?'

WHY WOULD I GO THROUGH THAT WHEN I CAN HAVE THE DOG SIT ITS BUTT DOWN TO SAY HI?

They're problem solvers. I don't want to give them a problem around lack of clarity about what I want and, yeah, I'm dealing with herders (and a boston) but I really *don't* find that once they know what I want and that what I want gets them what they want that they keep doing this nonsense. When don't do 'a' leaves the rest of the alphabet open? We're going to go through it and I don't generally have the energy for that. Not when I want a particular finished behavior and am not actively choosing to shape something.

Also yes: I regularly hike and walk my dogs off leash and live in the woods. Being called off deer and rabbits is a regular occurrence. That said, recall on dogs inclined to hunt is one of the only uses for an e-collar I don't find objectionable. 3 of 5 of mine all but came hardwired with recalls. One took more time and work. The other one is deaf so falls into a weird place where yeah she recalls at any indication you want her but in her youth used that e-collar so she could feel I wanted her and t that took training - these days is old so just sticks close.

But I think recall has more genetic/drive components than most dog training. Ie: what you've got as far as biddability and handler focus versus environment focus and which is stronger can be played with by the trainer - and influenced by quite a bit. But it can't be entirely flipped and if you have a dog where environmental focus or prey drive RADICALLY outweigh handler focus and biddability getting into a position where you can let the dog off leash safely outside a fence without using a remote collar is... questionable, at best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Canyx, thank you for your lengthy and clear response.

I am in total agreement with the average dog owner not understanding this device and using it wrong. Average dog owner with a low drive pet dog probably is better off just using a leash, crate and treats.

Recently I read about a toddler being bitten in the face because the dog was stim'd next to the toddler. Neither dog nor owner understood the collar. dogs with no understanding who get stim'd at the wrong time typically associate the stim with something in the environment they are next to and NOT with their behavior. That is HUGE HUGE HUGE.

A case in point. I knew someone who had a dog that did not have the highest regard for being part of a pack or team with a human. This person wanted the dog to be reliable off leash so slapped an (older style) e collar on the dog. Walking down a back road the person called the dog and stim'd the dog for not responding. At that moment the dog happened to be walking past a road kill squirrel (not sniffing or engaging with said dead squirrel). The owner told me that this dog (who did not immediately come after the stim) had a REAL aversion to any dead squirrels in the road giving the WIDE berth that lasted forever. While that is fairly harmless and sort of funny, what is NOT funny is the results from amateur use.

I am re-reading your response Canyx. Some of what you are saying is VERY true (lack of generalization for one) in my sport (IPO). Part of that has to do with lack of available fields and trainers to better generalize behavior in the dogs. I think your response is spot on for most pet dog owners and most pet dogs.

Where I think it may come apart is in a sport where there is large intensity and greater drive such as bite work in the protection sports (Ring, Mondio and IPO as well as police work). There was a site hosted by Donn Yarnall (deceased) that discussed drives in detail. It is no longer up since the owner passed away. That site gave a true three dimensional picture of dogs that is rare to find today. So much to be learned there but it is gone. :( I thought I knew something about dogs and training them and then I got into these sports and learned how little I know and that is ongoing.

I thought I was near the top of the mountain. Nope.. I was on a low ledge and I have a view of dogs and the mountain is still there and I am still climbing it.

A dog with real drive intensity that is IN DRIVE may need to learn to listen. Remember, when a dog is engaged in Ring, Mondio OR IPO that dog thinks the fight with the decoy is for real while everyone else knows it is not. So, a dog in a real fight is not much on listening and the e collar can help. I would say that most pet owners are not in these sports and so, as you note, e collar is not truly appropriate. On the flip side (and this is where it can get dicey) is that almost everyone that does get into these sports comes from a pet dog owning background or training in other dog sports (such as AKC obedience) and they think they know.

Another frustrating aside is the number of people in these sports and training in these sports who "think they know" and they do not. They cannot tell defense drive from prey drive and stim dogs wrongly (as a small example) and they can end up using a LOT of force. I thank my stars for the first (weak) dog and the first world class training helper (truly) who simply loves dogs and will train anything from my dog to the best police K9's out there.

Last, dogs are very different. Malinois and Dutchies have quite a lot of nerve mixed in with their drives. They tend to be a good bit handler sensitive so often one correction (if even needed) is not needed again. Malinois like to bite more than other breeds and that desire and drive carries them through and the good ones are less nervy. German Shepherds work a little differently and are perhaps a bit more hard headed.. with most that are truly handler sensitive not being up for these sports because they do not have enough power in the protection phase.

I like Bentwings story of using the e collar on the handler. Yes to that!!!
 

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I...

think I need to point out to you that dogs in sports that don't involve bite sports work in drive all the time - so do dogs who actually work.

I don't know IPO. I do recognize that the drives are involved are different.

But listening in drive is not unique to IPO or mondo.

You ever been to a flyball tournament? Or agility trial? Because those dogs are hair trigger sensitive to handler instruction (usually) and input, and working in EXTREMELY high drive.

That said, theoretically possible does not mean practical - you're not going to have human or animal injury if the dog *doesn't* listen (well, much, I've been hurt by dogs in agility but it's a very different thing). You absolutely can get serious injury to others in bitework and herding. E-collar to insure safety and because one failure can be catastrophic does make sense to me.

But let's not put too big an umbrella there: Dogs CAN and DO listen in drive all the time. HIGH, high, extremely high drive and without any background history of punishment at all. If the dogs 'ears are turning off' because they're in drive, then you've failed at teaching the dog to think in drive and if that's the case you've had a training failure - regardless of method.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I...

think I need to point out to you that dogs in sports that don't involve bite sports work in drive all the time - so do dogs who actually work.

I don't know IPO. I do recognize that the drives are involved are different.

But listening in drive is not unique to IPO or mondo.

You ever been to a flyball tournament? Or agility trial? Because those dogs are hair trigger sensitive to handler instruction (usually) and input, and working in EXTREMELY high drive.

That said, theoretically possible does not mean practical - you're not going to have human or animal injury if the dog *doesn't* listen (well, much, I've been hurt by dogs in agility but it's a very different thing). You absolutely can get serious injury to others in bitework and herding. E-collar to insure safety and because one failure can be catastrophic does make sense to me.

But let's not put too big an umbrella there: Dogs CAN and DO listen in drive all the time. HIGH, high, extremely high drive and without any background history of punishment at all. If the dogs 'ears are turning off' because they're in drive, then you've failed at teaching the dog to think in drive and if that's the case you've had a training failure - regardless of method.
Yes they do. I was actually thinking about this in agility. I have a dog that is fast and agile but has insufficient pack drive for agility. Totally insufficient. I could show her but might need electronics to get her to pay me any mind when in drive and this would reduce her drive and her speed as a result.

I read of one very successful agility trainer forcing pack drive on a dog by simply tying her to themselves. Dog could do nothing without the handler and handler could do nothing without the dog OR the dog was crated. It sounded miserable for everyone (I guess it works?). I also understood that it had to be repeated to keep it. Seems a lot of unhappy to force pack drive.

Of course, the issue with this same dog is she is very clever and would very quickly realize that the collar was off in a trial and then directions would be blown off. She is pretty insensitive to the other member on the team unless there is something in it for her. And the culture of agility would never tolerate a dog with an e collar so it is off the table.

I think that successful agility dogs DO listen but I think they also WANT to listen because they are biddable (pack drive) and sensitive enough to not want to make a mistake. They are also in a different drive from fight drive or defense drive (would you say agility dogs are working in high prey drive? But they are chasing nothing... What would you call the drive they are working in?).

Just from the type of dog I see in agility doing well I would say an e collar would be a bad fit for most of the dogs in that sport. I suspect the same in Fly Ball but I am guessing as I know nothing about fly ball.

Working Police Patrol dogs are usually trained with an e collar on. Working dogs who do not engage with suspects (bite work) I am not sure. I see Labrador Retrievers doing scent detection and I expect no e collar is used. SAR dogs also not so much. Herding? It depends on the dog and the shepherd. I have never seen an e collar used on a Border Collie (too nervy and soft to the handler) or a tending breed for tending. Of course in herding genetics do most of the work.

Hounds hunting is another story.. and trash breaking etc. I have never seen e collars used on fox Hounds but I have not watched this recently or ridden to hounds in years. Maybe now they do?
 

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That said, recall on dogs inclined to hunt is one of the only uses for an e-collar I don't find objectionable.
Whereas I still find the use objectionable (or at least questionable), personally speaking, I would say that this particular scenario is one in which chances of fallout are low. MUCH less room for unintended associations compared to using it to stop dogs from running up to other dogs or people.

I am going to shrug my shoulders at the whole bite sports thing. Fact is, there ARE people (very few, to my limited understanding) who are successfully competing in the sport who are not using aversive tools. I have no reason to believe their dogs are softer or lesser in any way. I think the potential for training differently is there, but not yet widely accepted. And in fact, your statement says it all:

Some of what you are saying is VERY true (lack of generalization for one) in my sport (IPO). Part of that has to do with lack of available fields and trainers to better generalize behavior in the dogs. I think your response is spot on for most pet dog owners and most pet dogs.
I do appreciate the honest evaluation of your sport, by the way. But what this says to me, is the sport is designed to set dogs up for punishment. I totally understand what "lack of" means in the dog world, and it is the reason why people look for shortcuts, and why ringsports are virtually exclusively dominated by people of a particular socioeconomic status (ie, those who have the time, money, and means to participate). What I am trying to say is, I strongly believe the reason why corrections and aversive tools are widely used in certain realms of dog training/sports and not others, has nothing to do with the dogs themselves but the CULTURE that surrounds those activities.

Bentwing's story was very interesting. And who wouldn't call that "abuse" today? It is the reason why even e-collars and e-collar training have evolved. And in fact, if the way things have been, and the way things are, were the only successful ways to do things, there wouldn't be people (successfully!) trying alternatives today. I'm not questioning the fact that the way things are (and all types of positive punishment to some degree) DOES work (in some ways). But there are trainers and owners who accept ideas that might work 'because they have worked', and those that look for a BETTER way to make things work.

Somewhat off topic and more general training related...

I don't like jumping on bandwagons just for the heck of it. But I believe so strongly that this trend towards reinforcement based training is "right", "better", and that we are tapping into the one thing that works. The 'one thing' because it works on everything from people to crabs. I think it's elegant that we as a species have the might to intimidate and physically control some animals (most domesticated animals), yet not others (polar bears, whales, fish, tigers...), but with reinforcement based training we not only control, but the entire scope of training shifts to the concept of communication. Through motivation based training, the great trainers out there are bored with simply clicking and treating good behaviors... Today's conversations are about the level and depth of canine cognition, how dogs can freakin infer and learn sets of rules (mimicking human behavior, big versus small, etc.) rather than simple behaviors. So in the realm of JUST positive reinforcement, trainers are exploring and opening the canine mind in ways that have never been explored before.

I digress. But point being, I really, really think people are thinking in a very shallow way when they see the e-collar (or really, any tool. From a harness to a prong collar.) as a crux, as necessity, as something that must significantly steer a dog's training. Tools might make people's lives easier, and are necessary in some lifestyles. But really, the more interesting question is "how can I use reinforcement in a way that opens more pathways for my dog?" Pathways as in gaining access with a well behaved dog in public areas, and also pathways as in... creating more neurological pathways in their brain.
 

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I read of one very successful agility trainer forcing pack drive on a dog by simply tying her to themselves. Dog could do nothing without the handler and handler could do nothing without the dog OR the dog was crated. It sounded miserable for everyone (I guess it works?). I also understood that it had to be repeated to keep it. Seems a lot of unhappy to force pack drive.
I see no reason why this would be miserable for the dog unless the dog somehow hated its handler? I don't see this as "force" at all, technically speaking. I see this as incredibly restrictive, and a means to prevent the dog from being reinforced by things in the environment. I would imagine that something else was done here, not just confining the dog to the trainer, and then letting it go and having a wonderfully engaged dog.

In fact, I would definitely do this if I ever took on an adult dog who I needed to train from scratch. I would also be rewarding for eye contact and other good behaviors, of course. I would certainly do this rather than put an aversive tool on the dog.

Fenzi's engagement training is the key to getting dogs, who are not as innately motivated to please, focused on their owners. With just that exercise alone, I was able to develop a new relationship with the dog I've had for over a decade. This is the environmentally motivated one. If we are in a large field, I used to struggle to get him to listen. I could tell him to do things and 'make him' do a few tricks before I released him to sniff. But his performance was extremely dull, he sometimes avoided my gaze, and I think he could sense my frustration. But after engagement training, now he is THRILLED and fast to perform the moment we enter a field. Eyes locked on me, no intermittent sniffing or displacement behaviors. When I finally give him the release cue he is also thrilled to be 'free' and go sniff. But I totally understand the application of this training and how you can build pack drive in a dog that doesn't naturally have it. I should get a video... When I demoed for some students of mine, who have seen Soro in various classes, they said to me afterwards that it was really cool to see the results because they thought he was a "naturally focused" dog. When they see him go off and not even look up at me once (after I released him), even after LEAVING HIM in the field for a few minutes and coming back, they could see that it actually took a lot of work to get him to focus on me at all.

I will also say (and long time users like CptJack and elrowhen (who hasn't been here in a while) will remember this), that when I first heard about engagement training I really did not understand what it was about (despite knowing a fair bit about training in general) and said users actually helped me see that. It took taking the class to really understand it.
 

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I'm pretty sure he's talking about Susan Garrett, actually and frankly speaking I hate the heck out of her methods and can't imagine ever using a lot of them. For one, they would only work at all with 2/3 of my dogs. For another, they are, at this point, pretty... behind the positive training curve. Not punishment based but pretty stressful comparatively, not a great fit for a lot of dogs and in ways that are just frankly unnecessary

But anyway her thing with crate, leashed to you, or working all the time:

It's not about 'real' engagement, it's about dependence. It also really does the dog a disservice because it's almost the opposite of Fenzi methodology in many things. One of the things Denise regrets about her last/now senior competition dog is that she taught the dog to use her as a crutch rather than choosing her over the environment. Ie: Her dog was often not even aware of things IN the environment because she had prompted/encouraged/almost forced the dog to be so highly focused on her.

Which is. What a lot of Susan's stuff comes down to - creating that.

Bad plan.

You want the dog to be aware of the environment and secure in it - then CHOOSE the handler as the most rewarding and awesome thing out there.

But that's neither here nor there, just a bit of an aside into what I think he's discussing/referencing versus what he actually is. or rather who - and I could still be very wrong, but mostly Denise isn't really an agility person. She's a comp. obedience and (former) IPO person.
 

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Remember, when a dog is engaged in Ring, Mondio OR IPO that dog thinks the fight with the decoy is for real while everyone else knows it is not. So, a dog in a real fight is not much on listening and the e collar can help.
In regards to whether it's a "real" fight, Denise Fenzi has a different approach. Perhaps a simple shift in how things are viewed is all that's needed.


" I believe that IPO is a SPORT – I have absolutely no interest in creating a personal protection dog. I do not want my dogs to feel angry or defensive when working in the sport of protection – I want them to percieve the helper (person doing the rag or sleeve work) as a friend – a worthy foe who takes all of their attention for a difficult but rewarding game. I want my dogs to believe that if they fight their hardest – giving everything they have, then they will win the fight. I want them to believe that any pressure moves shown to them (yelling, hard frontal pressure, waving stick, etc.) are all threat but no substance – nothing they cannot overcome with the correct countering moves. Trained this way, IPO is no more than a very hard game of tug of war – between friends. "

https://denisefenzi.com/2012/04/05/protection-training-ipo/
 

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In regards to whether it's a "real" fight, Denise Fenzi has a different approach. Perhaps a simple shift in how things are viewed is all that's needed.


" I believe that IPO is a SPORT – I have absolutely no interest in creating a personal protection dog. I do not want my dogs to feel angry or defensive when working in the sport of protection – I want them to percieve the helper (person doing the rag or sleeve work) as a friend – a worthy foe who takes all of their attention for a difficult but rewarding game. I want my dogs to believe that if they fight their hardest – giving everything they have, then they will win the fight. I want them to believe that any pressure moves shown to them (yelling, hard frontal pressure, waving stick, etc.) are all threat but no substance – nothing they cannot overcome with the correct countering moves. Trained this way, IPO is no more than a very hard game of tug of war – between friends. "

https://denisefenzi.com/2012/04/05/protection-training-ipo/
Yeah, this is pretty on par with what I actually have heard from some pretty danged good IPO people. The dog is happy, playing, and working. That doesn't mean there aren't still powerful dogs and teeth and drive in play but.

This is the first time I have _ever_ heard anyone saying they think the dog believes they're in a real fight. Have heard a lot of warnings against believing for one INSTANT that you're going to get a personal protection dog out of it, though, because the dog knows they're playing a game and because the skills just don't really directly translate to the real world.
 

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The last time I heard someone talk about the dog thinking they were in a real fight, it was elrohwen mentioning a catahoula in one of her classes that was in some bitework. The dog didn't treat it like a game. And I believe consequently, the owner stopped doing that sport. I wouldn't imagine it feels good for a dog to truly believe there is a threat upon itself or its owner. And I would not want the liability of having a dog who perceived people in that way. I'll have to hunt that thread down one day... I think I was the one asking about houlas at the time.
 

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E-collar is a great tool, when used properly. I used it to proof my Malinois' recall before giving her full off-leash privilege. Not that she didn't have a good recall, but I just felt better when she realized that she could be corrected even if I were far away from her.

Besides that, I used the vibrate setting a few times to tell her not to play with her retrieve item. The vibrate to her is more of just social pressure. She is not afraid of it.

For pretty much everything else, food refusal, down stay, hurdle/jumps, change of positions, heeling, send out, scent discrimination, I don't use corrections. If she does it wrong, it is because she doesn't understand or I am going too fast.

We train in Mondioring, also a protection sport, but I don't use e-collar in bite-work (her prey drive didn't turn on until she was almost 17 months old, by the time I started recalling her off bites, she was around 2 years old. Her recall was already solid). Her "out" was taught via motivation only. All the other behaviors during bitework, I just wait her out. The faster she complies, she faster I send her for a bite.

The bite-work part of it, having a decoy who is on the same page as you are is very important. In a club setting, if a decoy wants things done quickly, a handler prefers a slower method, compounded with time constraint, things can be very difficult. We left a ring club several months ago because of differences in training methods. Fortunately hubby has been a club decoy for several years so we could train a lot of the stuff ourselves. Not everyone has that luxury though. For some people, sometimes it means giving in to the training methods of a club/decoys vs. leaving the sport.
 
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