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I use an e collar which I have trained the dog to respond to in an enclosed area. I make coming to me the best thing ever.
Both dogs hike with me and both wear an e collar. At this stage it is only there if a (d***ed) deer pops up in front of them.. I can get both dogs back instantly.

That is your "portable under ground fence." You MUST train the dog for this. DO NOT just slap the collar on with no previous training. Training is in an ENCLOSED area and the dog is conditioned to come the instant he or she feels the nick from the collar. When the dog comes to you it is IMPERATIVE the dog is rewarded HEAVILY (both voice and the best food you have.. steak if necessary). I watch my dogs when I hike and they respond to whistles to come back to me. I never let them get out of sight. Ever. This is bushwhacking, NOT on trails.

I will also add that on most hikes the e collar is on and NOT used. I use whistles to keep the dogs within sight.
 

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Yes, and (just like the limitations of an 'invisible fence') the punishment must be more aversive - to the dog - than the reward, in order for this to be an effective method of "training".
In other words, even if the dog is trained to return to you upon the application of the 'nick' (a PC way of saying 'electrical shock applied to the dog's neck') if they are bound & determined to chase off after that dratted deer/whatever, well... they're going to be well outside the range of your little hand-held 'nicking' device before they've even felt the zap. Unless you have it set to 'phasers on stun' (or at a level that the dog's head explodes), there are those dogs who will simply give chase, regardless of your little 'nick'.
So, my advice to the OP is this - unless you're comfortable setting the shock collar to a level that will take your dog DOWN, should he decide to bolt off, use a physical attachment (long line or leash) while working on recall training. Once you have a solid & bomb/deer proof recall you won't need either.
And, trust me, standing there pushing a button to 'nick' (SHOCK) your dog while he obliviously races away from you after something WAY more rewarding, is a pretty lousy feeling. But being able to call/whistle for your dog & have him come running back to you - that's worth its weight in gold. This can only be achieved without the use of aversive equipment.
First of all, ALWAYS train a reward based recall. ALWAYS.

NEVER use it the way described or train it this way. This is what happens (and the sort of comment you get) when someone who "thinks they know" does not truly know.

E Collars of yore had one setting and it SHOCKED the dog. Currently I have an older TriTronics 500 with a mile and a quarter range and has 18 settings. The Pro 900 E Collar Technologies I have is a shorter range double box and has 100 level settings. Setting level is determined by the dog's drive and can be changed instantly.

I have one dog that has tremendous hunt drive.. and will sight chase deer in an instant. She was trained to the e collar recall years ago. The setting that returns her in full chase with the Tritronics? level 2 low or medium. I know because I have seen it. I had another dog that required level 6 medium.. under those circumstances. As a reminder to stick close I whistle. ONLY if the dog does not respond, I use a nick.. and trust me at level 1 or 2 low I feel a buzz.. not even a "shock." YES I have put the collar on my wrist (bottom side ) and on my fingers to feel the "shock." Low levels is is not even as much "shock" as a dog gets from static electricity sniffing something in a dry house after walking across the carpet!

The other dog with 100 possible levels I use level 12 in the woods.. if a deer pops up under his nose I put it up to 24. Here is the scenario. I whistle just to keep him in sight. He responds to the whistle. I have NEVER had to nick this dog for not responding. He will range far. I need to pay attention to where both dogs are. If a deer flies up under his nose? I can instantly increase the stim control (which I do) and ONLY stim if he does not instantly come off at my call. You know how many times I have used this? ONCE and the deer literally jumped up from its bed 10 feet in front of him. I called, and then stimmed.. and he was off the deer and back to me.

There is no need to use a sledge hammer when a tap on the shoulder will do. BUT YOU MUST TRAIN IT FIRST!

IF the dog does NOT come back when asked you HAVE the means to enforce and that is better than losing the dog and better than the dog running itself to death. I would NEVER be initially "setting the shock collar to a level that will take your dog DOWN" (and honestly I do not think at the highest setting either collar is even capable of this). That is NOT how to use this equipment.

And a little secret.. if you hike where I hike a leash is just simply impractical. There are no trails, there is brush.. it is real bushwhacking and not some place frequented by people (it is private property). Both dogs are much happier being able to range off leash. The can be DOGS and chase squirrels up trees and try to work the stone walls for chipmunks and mice and wood rats with rare but occasional kills. They get to check the bear scat and coyote scat.. see where the owl got a rabbit.. and still be within sight and earshot of me. The collars are on. Better to have and not need than to need and not have.

It is to the point when they see me get the remotes they start acting the fool because were are going for a woods walk. Picking up a Leash will never get a happy response but nothing like the joy of the remotes and a woods walk. Canidae Snow Winter Dog Tree
 

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I know how to train a recall, thank you, and I know how to do it without the use of a shock collar, even for the enforcement of the command afterwards. If the dog doesn't come back when you call & you must resort to using the collar, the fact is that if the sensation of the 'stim' isn't aversive enough, it won't change the dog's behavior. The sensation, or the fear of an even more aversive sensation, is what stops the dog. If you're OK with using fear/pain to make sure your dog will listen to you, that's up to you. I've trained that way in the far distant past & have now learned a different (imo - better) way.
And, I'll let you in on a little secret. That picture of your dogs on a hike looks like pictures of my dogs on my property. I live in the middle of the woods & completely understand the limitations of dragging a leash or long line. That's why I spend time creating a wildlife proof recall with my dogs, because if I had to use a shock collar to get their attention when critters were around, they'd have to wear them constantly.
Again, I'm not telling you what to use, or not use, with your own dogs. I'm simply pointing out to the OP that resorting to an electronic device is no guarantee of compliance. How often does our local shelter pick up strays wearing underground fence collars? Frequently. These dogs might be fully 'trained' on the shock collar fencing, but... one day they blow through it & at that point it's pretty much going to be ineffective at containment. For some dogs there is no 'stim' (shock) bad enough to give up the chase. (And I was being sarcastic when I said it would have to 'take the dog down'. Sorry you missed that in the translation)
I (of course) have trained recall and I actually have excellent secondary obedience with a very powerful dog on the decoy (deep, confident grips and great drive). He has been trained to recall and he will recall. He has also been trained on an e collar and if the whistle does not get instant compliance, the stim does get it. It is not a matter or wanting to use pain and aversives. It IS a matter of understanding the prey drive in a working line German Shepherd who would run himself to death chasing a deer. The FACT that even in full drive I usually get compliance w/o a stim testifies to the relationship we have.

Out in the woods, off lead, I use an e collar. It is rarely used.. days go by without a single need. As I said, I would rather have and not need than to need and not have. The "other option" could very well lead to a lost and/or dead dog.

In the next comment, Canyx mentions her old dog that could be called off deer. I can also call my dog off deer. Until that day comes and the deer jumps up under his nose and I cannot because he does not even HEAR the whistle or call. That said, I can MOST ASSUREDLY call my dog off deer with an e collar as it will break his concentration of extreme prey drive. It surely beats the alternative (running himself to death, getting hit by a car and all that stuff). A minor stim is neither going to leave a legacy of physical or mental damage (when used correctly).. but an argument with a car or running to death is a whole 'nother story.

The OP has a Mastiff. From the sound of the post the people are not paying attention AND they do not have a good recall. Keeping the dog in sight on a hike and whistling them back when they get ranging too far is 98% of the pleasure of a wood walk off leash with your dog.
 
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