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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't use shock. I'm fine with others using it (properly), but I don't use shock. What do y'all think of vibration collars? I would use it not as punishment, but as a way to call my dog when she's too far away to hear, or, since she can have a one track mind, I thought it might get her attention in a pain and punishment free way when she's distracted. Do vibration collars classify as aversive? DO the dogs find them even somewhat unpleasant? Thanks.
 

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I have to agree with Deacon.dog here. Vibration collars are not uncommon tools people with deaf dogs use if they want to be able to get their dogs' attention at a distance, but I've known one deaf dog who was utterly distressed by the vibration. But she was absolutely fine with the lowest stim level, so that's what her owner used - and this is someone who's otherwise highly rewards-based, force-free, the whole shebang.

Other instances of stimuli we generally consider neutral or positive that some dogs find punishing:
  • Exuberant praise
  • Clicker sound
  • No reward markers
  • Treats/food (can happen due to excessive pressure in training or with poorly timed desensitization, where the treat starts predicting the bad thing instead of the bad thing predicting treats)
  • Being petted, esp. when excited/aroused
  • Squeakers in squeaky toys
  • Beeping electronics (oven timers etc.)
  • Using a metal whisk in a bowl (okay maybe my dog's just a weirdo)

I'm sure there's tons of other examples. My point is you do have to let your dog tell you what is or isn't aversive, and you have to be careful about assuming that just because something is positive for many/most dogs doesn't mean it's rewarding for the one you're working with. Even very good trainers fall into the trap of "but this is how I reward dogs" sometimes, despite evidence showing that the dog they're currently working with isn't seeing whatever it is as a reward.

If you want to try it with your dog, I'd introduce it the way you would a muzzle or any other kind of strange, novel gear - desensitize to the sight of the collar, working up to putting it on (probably won't take long if your dog is used to wearing collars), and desensitize to the sound of the vibration - starting with the collar off the dog - separately, then work on bringing it incrementally closer until you can try it in contact with her. For some dogs this will be a super fast process, for some a super slow, for some they might never be okay with the vibrations.
 

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I agree with the above - the dog decides what is aversive (and rewarding, for that matter) not the human.

One of my dogs is getting a bit hard of hearing (literally, not in the 'selectively deaf' manner! lol) and even at a fairly close range he can't hear me calling him anymore. We live in a very rural, densely wooded area, and for safety I need to be able to recall him immediately at times.

I've had two different individuals suggest a vibration collar to me (one a professional, non-aversive trainer the other a highly accomplished, more 'balanced' owner) but I won't even consider trying one. I know my dog & he is extremely tactilely sensitive - no matter how slowly or carefully I introduce one, I know there is a very high likelihood of such a device being extremely aversive to him & I simply won't take the chance that he will form some sort of bizarre & unrelated connection between the collar vibrating & something else around him.
I've started using a high pitched whistle for his recall which he can still hear just fine. So for now, problem solved with no chance of fall-out.
 

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All depends on the dog. I really like whats been said here. I would never do something to my dog that he found unpleasant. That's awful. There's certain things he sees as WAY more aversive than a prong collar.

Aversive is "a strong disliking". My dog doesn't have a strong disliking to anything I do to him.

If you have a e-collar, I'd suggest introducing it and if your dog doesn't like it, despite conditioning it to the collar, then don't use the collar.
 

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All depends on the dog. I really like whats been said here. I would never do something to my dog that he found unpleasant. That's awful. There's certain things he sees as WAY more aversive than a prong collar.

Aversive is "a strong disliking". My dog doesn't have a strong disliking to anything I do to him.

If you have a e-collar, I'd suggest introducing it and if your dog doesn't like it, despite conditioning it to the collar, then don't use the collar.
You might not want to believe this, but I can absolutely guarantee your dog finds the sensation of a prong collar 'unpleasant'. It's the very nature of that particular tool to BE unpleasant. If it weren't, it wouldn't work to reduce behavior, now would it? Just because he finds other things worse, doesn't make the prong collar non aversive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't intend to use it as punishment EVER, and I don't want to waste money on something she might hate. Anyone have a different suggestion for long distance recalls?
 
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I don't intend to use it as punishment EVER, and I don't want to waste money on something she might hate. Anyone have a different suggestion for long distance recalls?
For a long distance recall you could use a loud whistle, similar to what I've trained my getting hard of hearing dog on. Otherwise, you could get an electronic collar that has a 'beep' feature (rather than vibrate) & train that as a recall cue. In either case, you'd need to start at the very beginning & systematically train your dog to respond to the sound by coming immediately to you. Since the sound would be new & totally unpoisoned, generally (as long as the dog has a semi-decent recall to begin with) the training is fairly quick & easy.
 

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I don't want to waste money on something she might hate. Anyone have a different suggestion for long distance recalls?
The expense is a problem for a lot of people. Quality e-collars and vibration collars aren't cheap and returning one after you've used it long enough to condition and see how the dog reacts is going to mean not being able to return for refund.

However, a dog that ignores your recall at a distance may ignore vibrations, beeps, and whistles at a distance too. You might need to do a whole lot more recall training at gradually increasing distances, or you might even have to accept this is a dog who is never going to be reliable at distance and keep her close. Just as dogs decide what's aversive to them, dogs can also decide the limit of what they're willing to do for us. One of my dogs isn't going to do Rottweiler carting. She's the first one, and I'm very disappointed, but there it is. Maybe I could overcome her resistance, but I don't want a dog pulling a cart looking miserable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
However, a dog that ignores your recall at a distance may ignore vibrations, beeps, and whistles at a distance too. You might need to do a whole lot more recall training at gradually increasing distances, or you might even have to accept this is a dog who is never going to be reliable at distance and keep her close.
She will eventually come back, I think some of that is her border collie instinct :). The issue is that she will come sprinting back... but then get distracted halfway. Or she will chase a deer, I will call her, and she'll finish chasing the deer THEN come back. I think she genuinely doesn't understand that being called means RIGHT NOW. I am hoping that if I can get her more focused on me and distract her from the interesting thing, (such as with a vibrate or noise collar) she will come back more quickly.
 

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Sounds like she isn't ready to be off leash and you should still be on the long line phase. Its not your dog, its you.
 

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She will eventually come back, I think some of that is her border collie instinct :). The issue is that she will come sprinting back... but then get distracted halfway. Or she will chase a deer, I will call her, and she'll finish chasing the deer THEN come back. I think she genuinely doesn't understand that being called means RIGHT NOW. I am hoping that if I can get her more focused on me and distract her from the interesting thing, (such as with a vibrate or noise collar) she will come back more quickly.
Unfortunately, 'hoping' isn't going to do it - only a more solid history of successful recalls made via systematic training is going to improve a situation like this. If you put her in an environment that has too high a level of distractions for her to immediately respond to your recall (whether voice, whistle, beep, whatever...) she's being set up to fail. And the more times she fails the more eroded your recall will become.

I totally understand that it's dang near impossible to set up random environmental distractions to work on them systematically (those dratted deer simply won't agree to stand still at just the proper distance! ;)) All you can do is practice & rehearse that recall ad nauseum in situations where you KNOW she will respond immediately. Slowly add in as many distractions as you actually can control (distance from you, novel environments, etc) until she responds to the cue as a matter of reflex - without even thinking about it. If you're in an environment that might present unexpected distractions (deer, or whatever might cause her to not respond) keep her in a tighter orbit or on leash/long line. Prevent mistakes - don't take a chance.

One other thing that I do (or don't do, actually) is use my dogs' formal recall cue if I'm not really dang sure they are going to respond. If we're in the 'yard' area of our property & something out near our driveway gate gets their attention & they all take off barking, I do not tell them to "Come" because I know there is precious little hope they are going to immediately respond or even be able to hear me. Instead what I do is happily call out their names to get their attention back on me & then (if necessary) use the recall cue. Same thing if any of them has vanished off into the woods on our property (we have a deer fence perimeter, but it's not exactly 'secure' fencing) I call out their name, which is what I use as a 'pay attention to me', or 'I'm talkin' to you' cue. And it goes without saying, a dynamite off leash recall is reinforced with high-value reward every - single - time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Sounds like she isn't ready to be off leash and you should still be on the long line phase. Its not your dog, its you.
She is literally PERFECT on the long lead. she's also perfect with just a short lead dragging. The problem is that she definitely knows when I take it off (of course) and then she listens only sometimes
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
One other thing that I do (or don't do, actually) is use my dogs' formal recall cue if I'm not really dang sure they are going to respond. If we're in the 'yard' area of our property & something out near our driveway gate gets their attention & they all take off barking, I do not tell them to "Come" because I know there is precious little hope they are going to immediately respond or even be able to hear me. Instead what I do is happily call out their names to get their attention back on me & then (if necessary) use the recall cue.
Yeah, we actually had to make a new recall because family and friends (and i'll admit, sometimes me, too) would call her using "come" too often. We use "check" now, as it's less likely to be overused. Mostly what I'm having trouble with is, as you said, being able to "set up" high distraction situations.
Thanks for the advice, I'll definitely keep practicing with her:) hopefully we will get there.
 
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If you make a habit of releasing her back to check out 'safe', low-level distractions, you'll build reliability in high distraction situations. This is basically the Premack Principle. There's a spot she always is super interested in sniffing? Call her in as you approach it, reward, then specifically release her to go sniff that spot. She likes chasing squirrels? Call her in, and reward her by releasing her to go chase the squirrel (assuming she cannot actually catch the squirrel). I've even done this with a dead moose carcass (we knew it was one the local hunters had killed and then dumped the hide, a bunch of bone, and other scraps they couldn't use for the local wildlife to enjoy, so it was safe and didn't have a lot of... super rotten or gooey bits), but that might depend on how willing you are to give a bath afterwards.
 

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All depends on the dog. I really like whats been said here. I would never do something to my dog that he found unpleasant. That's awful. There's certain things he sees as WAY more aversive than a prong collar.
I mean, do what you're gonna do, but if your dog doesn't find the prong unpleasant, why use it instead of a flat collar? What makes the prong work better?
 

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I mean, do what you're gonna do, but if your dog doesn't find the prong unpleasant, why use it instead of a flat collar? What makes the prong work better?
The prong collar is proven to cause less tracheal damage than a flat collar. I use a harness more often than not. The prong allows further communication, since the collar "pinches". If deacon pulls ahead, he can easily correct himself before I have to say anything. Futhermore, my argument is he doesn't have a "strong disliking" to the prong collar. He is happy to have it on, happy to work with it on, and it allows for ME to easily give and take away leash pressure for better communication.
 

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The prong collar is proven to cause less tracheal damage than a flat collar. I use a harness more often than not. The prong allows further communication, since the collar "pinches". If deacon pulls ahead, he can easily correct himself before I have to say anything. Futhermore, my argument is he doesn't have a "strong disliking" to the prong collar. He is happy to have it on, happy to work with it on, and it allows for ME to easily give and take away leash pressure for better communication.
You said above (and I quote) "I would never do anything to my dog that he found unpleasant. That's awful" And yet you continue to defend using a prong collar on him. Something is aversive if he will actively work to avoid it - if he's responding to the feeling of a prong collar 'correction' (whether you do the popping, or he hits the end himself) by reducing that behavior, he must, at a minimum, find the sensation 'unpleasant'. If he didn't, it wouldn't stop doing the lunging/pulling.
So, I guess you don't really mind doing something to your dog that he finds unpleasant. Use a prong, I don't care, but quit trying to justify it as totally non-aversive. It's an illogical argument at best.
 

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He is happy to have it on, happy to work with it on, [...]
Is he happy at the exact moment when the collar engages ?

THAT'S what you really have to ask yourself if you're trying to determine his state of emotion, or the actual effect a prong collar has on him.

I've heard this same contention a thousand times. The old "my dog is happy when he merely SEES me reach for the e collar before training begins". People should be basing their assessment on the reaction when the device ENGAGES, not when it is simply displayed to the dog, and also not when the device is idle during wear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The old "my dog is happy when he merely SEES me reach for the e collar before training begins". People should be basing their assessment on the reaction when the device ENGAGES, not when it is simply displayed to the dog, and also not when the device is idle during wear.
True, and the excitement when seeing it isn't about being excited for the "pinch" as Deacon.dog called it, but excitement that it means a walk, for which they are willing to suffer the "pinch"
 
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