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Great Discussion on the topic of Shock Collars, great wealth of information from all parties. This is good stuff to learn and share it with others as I learn more about dogs.
 

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What most pet dog and low level drive trainers do not understand is there are times when the stim simply clarifies things for the dog such that training can move on. Again, most pets are neither high drive nor in a situation where drive over rides all the typical ways we train.

Corrections can have their place. They clarify boundaries. BUT they are largely useless when the dog does not understand the cue. Correcting a dog for getting in the garbage is pointless. Correcting a dog for getting up from sit in the kitchen to go to the garbage can be corrected IF the dog understands what SIT means. You correct for breaking the sit command NOT for heading for the garbage.

Does that sit need a stim for an E Collar? Unlikely. In skilled hands it can be effective but the question is "why?" I would not use an e collar is such a situation.

OTOH if you have a dog that gets dirty in the blind AFTER he has been on a platform and a long line so he CANNOT get dirty in the blind, the decoy may have the remote and stim the dog for getting dirty. The decoy cannot make the dog clean by coming at the dog (if the dog is strong and is in fight drive). Movement justifies the dog biting. The handler is not even in sight so the handler cannot do anything. A third person can pick up a long line and move the dog out of reach of the decoy, but the dog quickly learns when that line is on or off. The decoy could hold the stick to prevent the dirty bite but the day will come when the stick CANNOT be held there and the dog knows it and chances are he will get dirty again. CLARITY comes from the proper level of stim that puts the dog BACK into a bark and hold at which point the dog is REWARDED with the bite. Remember, in this situation the dog WANTS the bite (assuming a good, confident dog in high drive).

Another thing to know is WHY a dog does a bark and hold in the first place. The dog believes this fight is real. He enters the blind and the "prey" holds still. This is instinct. Dogs run in packs. If a dog hunts and finds a large prey animal that he cannot subdue on his own and that animal stop running and faces the dog and holds still, the dog barks to alert the other members of the pack that the prey is found and he needs help to neutralize it. If you watch any predator/prey movie on TV the predator typically only grabs MOVING prey. If an animal holds still, so does the predator until the animal moves (cats are masters of this). So, the bark and hold in the blind is that behavior. In a do or die situation where bringing down prey is essential for survival, biting dirty could get the dog killed (go back to the moose.. imagine him standing still, head lowered.. dog gets "dirty" and the moose could stomp the dog or fling it.. as coming in to "get dirty" puts the dog in too close to the moose. In the wild, dogs that got dirty died or were hurt enough to learn to stay back barking.

Well, certainly we don't want our dogs to die for getting dirty on a decoy. We want the dog to learn. So, the decoy has the remote and stims the dog at the appropriate level. The dog comes off and then barks.. and then the decoy rewards the dog with movement allowing the dog to bite.

This explanation oversimplifies all of this but describes things most pet dog or lower level drive trainers do not deal with. Most pet dog owners might use an e collar for one of two things. Prevent barking. For recall. That is about it. The dogs are not in high drive situations.

There IS high drive in agility. No question about it. But that drive is from a different source than the drive for a decoy in a blind.
 

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Rather than resorting to physical correction, a skillful trainer will use "loss of opportunity for reinforcement" as a mechanism to get the desired result.

IOW's, for those who may be unfamiliar with the concept. During training, let's say the objective or end goal is for the dog to go through the entire heeling routine before receiving his reward. So, at whatever point when the dog breaks focus (for example - forward, left turn, slow speed, normal speed, about turn <dog breaks focus>), he is perhaps given an NRM at the exact instant of the look away, the handler/ dog engagement is subsequently 'broken off' and the dog is returned to the very beginning of the exercise, in this case the start line. IE: loss of opportunity for reinforcement. During the second attempt, if the dog makes it to a point anywhere past the aforementioned about turn without looking away, then the verbal marker "yes" plus reward plus release is immediately given. Third attempt, a bit further, progressively ... and so on and so forth until the entire heeling routine can be completed with unfailing focus. Whereby a release plus mega-jackpot is given and a huge loving fuss is made.

This is clear communication without ANY need for physical, potentially damaging corrections. This is what I like to call skillful training.
You can do this but if you are not rewarding to the end, and you have a loss of focus, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. NRM's are useful; we use them extensively. HOWEVER, in the long heeling patterns we do, we NEVER EVER make the dog wait all the way to the end. Instead we use "trial markers" where rewards are routinely given. for instance, after the second gun shot, after the about turn, after the group when we say "thank you group." The dog learns to expect a reward at those points. If he does not get the reward he comes UP in drive because he thinks it is coming.. then comes UP again at the next opportunity. This is a LONG obedience exercise. It is not some short routine.

I would NEVER couple a stim with an about turn and loss of focus. Instead, take the dog BACK a step and break the about turn down into smaller increments.

LOSS OF FOCUS equals a DROP IN DRIVE. Most AKC obedience trainers find drive UNDESIRABLE. If you want lessons is killing drive, go watch an AKC match or sho and go. MOST of it is AWFUL. Dogs have their heads down.. they show no power or desire to work. Many look like a kid taking a math test.. gritting his teeth just waiting for the darn bell to ring so they can get out of there. I go to sho and go matches just to give my dog something different. Most people know me and know what I train. Their responses range from fear of my dog to fascination to "you're doing it wrong.." I don't care what they think. My dog is focused on me. He looks powerful in his heeling. He is quick and he is obedient. When I had my bitch and we would go to sho and goes I would toss the IPO 1 Dumbell over the jump and the IPO 3 dumbell on the flat. She was 22 inches at the shoulder. I had the jump set at a full 36 inches and, if I could, I would set it up on blocks to get 39 or 40 inches in height. That is what we train. People would stop what they were doing to watch her and gasp at the height. Some would comment. Their dogs would not do this.. and my dog would do it with power and JOY. She was trained with an e collar but she did not have it on at the match (of course). She just loved it and, I think, she loved being a star. Sometimes people would clap.. and that bright the drive up MORE.

CORRECTIONS should NEVER result in a drop in drive. IF they do you have not followed the correction immediately with a reward three times stronger than the correction OR you have inappropriately corrected the dog.

To add to my above comments. In that example, I'm certainly going to recognize the dog's difficulty with the about turn portion because IMO he's giving me some usable information there. Therefore I'm going to break that down into a much smaller component - the about turn itself - and practice * whatever it is he's struggling with *, separately, in order to build a considerable amount of value into it. IE: two or three steps of heeling, about turn without breaking focus, REWARD (at various micro-points during the about turn), release. ... Repeat, repeat, repeat. Then, once he is proficient, add it back in with the rest of the heeling routine.

Again, skillful -- and thoughtful -- training. Without the so-called "need" for corrections.
If you repeat repeat repeat too much you will LOSE DRIVE. Be careful. IF what you are doing does not get results in 3 tries, you better try something else because your dog is not understanding..
 

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Most AKC obedience trainers find drive UNDESIRABLE. If you want lessons is killing drive, go watch an AKC match or sho and go. MOST of it is AWFUL. Dogs have their heads down.. they show no power or desire to work. Many look like a kid taking a math test.. gritting his teeth just waiting for the darn bell to ring so they can get out of there.
Well, geez. We all can't have IPO Mals and GSD's.

Seems a little condescending, dont'cha think? not to mention a tad on the myopic side, considering there's every temperament and every breed from Basenjis to Great Danes and everything in between ENJOYING the AKC obedience....without any use of shock collars during training, I might add.
 

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Well, geez. We all can't have IPO Mals and GSD's.

Seems a little condescending, dont'cha think? not to mention a tad on the myopic side, considering there's every temperament and every breed from Basenjis to Great Danes and everything in between ENJOYING the AKC obedience....without any use of shock collars during training, I might add.
I WISH my comments WERE condescending!!!! This is what I have OBSERVED.

Just look at tail carriage.. at any show or match. YES there are dogs that clearly love the work because they have been trained to find the work fun and have a relationship with the handler.

Then there are the rest.. and of those that are clearly looking to "get this over with" I daresay MOST of these dogs are NOT trained with E collars! It's NOT about the equipment.

Now each breed with express itself differently. Clearly that is true. Some breeds are far more difficult to train than other breeds and some individual dogs are harder to train than others in the same breed. Totally true.

When I see dogs after dog of the same breed in the ring with the same "just let's get this over with" and I KNOW how those dogs train (because I know the people and have seen the training) I do speak the truth. And then the Judges PIN that.. I SMH.

It has been a long time since I did AKC Obedience and trialed in AKC obedience. I was successful and had a drawer full of blue ribbons. My dog did not enjoy the training and we did not have a relationship. She did it..

Then I changed sports.

If my dog came out in this sport looking like he or she just wanted to leave the field, the judges would fail me. I have seen that happen.

And, lest you think we Only have Drivey Confident dogs or one breed, please put that to rest. I have seen everything out on the field from Shelties to Dobermans.. and they must look like they WANT to be there or they do not pass. And of these non GSD breeds, I would say about 80% are not trained on electronic collars. Again, it is not about the equipment, it is IS about the training.

Don't malign the plumbers pipe wrench until you have used it where and when it is the best tool for the job.
 

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Yes, A hammer is always a tool. Although, it may not be the best tool to use.

Well spoken, 3GSD.

From what I have seen, some breeds don't respond to punishment of any sort.
 

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I am currently puppy raising (as in raising for someone else) a sports prospect GSD. This dog is from a long line of sports and working lines.

Lots of drive. Lots of desire to bite and hang on. Lots of drive. . Fairly 'hard'. Tons of resilience. Easily frustrated but does. not. quit.

I will tell you bluntly and clearly, simply, and directly that
A-) This dog is not like my border-collie things. It does not do things just because I told it to. It does not respect, trust, or want to work with me just because I exist and have thumbs and I have had to slow my roll and learn some new stuff.
B-) The thing this dog needs to have to work with me is not punishment, much less a shock collar. It needs a relationship with me and to know, trust and to be able to predict me.

I COULD use brute force/punishment without breaking the puppy.

Or I could learn the puppy, let the puppy learn me, build a relationship and do just fine.

Guess which one I'm going with? GO ON. GUESS.
 

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Well, geez. We all can't have IPO Mals and GSD's.

Seems a little condescending, dont'cha think? not to mention a tad on the myopic side, considering there's every temperament and every breed from Basenjis to Great Danes and everything in between ENJOYING the AKC obedience....without any use of shock collars during training, I might add.
I have been waiting for the day 3GSDs pulled a "BUT GSDS!!!" since I started puppy raising this sucker. Just because I'm a jerk and can now definitely say "Naaaaah."
 

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I'm inclined to let this basically random sampling of videos speak the truth.


Go ahead. Take the time to watch and analyze the videos.

Aside from one dog who momentarily has his head down, I see tails that are up. I see willingness and enjoyment. I see lots of drive. Sure, it's not 'fight and bite and hang on to the death' IGP drive, but still. It's certainly, sufficiently ... there. I see a wide variety of breeds, and temperaments. And, never mind "most" (I seriously take exception to the use of that word earlier in the thread), I don't see ANY dogs who "look like a kid taking a math test.. gritting his teeth just waiting for the darn bell to ring so they can get out of there".

So, there you have it. The truth.
 

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Well, I am currently doing AKC Rally and Obedience with my two Rottie girls, and I do see some dogs (and people) in the rings looking like they're taking a math test they didn't study for. There's no use pretending that all breeds are equally suited for this kind of human-canine cooperation or that all people can be top drawer trainers and handlers. It's also true that individuals of a breed - or even a litter - may be more or less suitable.

It's also true, though, that a lot of people don't choose a dog for obedience work. They take the dog they have to an obedience class and then decide what the heck and try for a title. So you see a nervous handler in the ring with a beloved pet, both stressed by the environment. The same dog may glide through the exercises at home with a much happier attitude.

And some people don't train well or don't train enough, but I bet almost everyone who trains at all benefits from strengthening the bond with their dog.

I'm not against aversives when necessary. My dogs are large, strong, strong-willed and not particularly physically sensitive. I'm competitive as all get out and don't merely want a title but to do well. Even so, I believe in the whole have fun with your dog thing, and if I needed a shock collar for the kind of training I do, neither one of us would be having fun.
 

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Oh.....pass the popcorn please. This is getting interesting.

BTW, I agree.
Build the relationship and trust with the dog.

Sure, it may be a bit slower, but in the end........a well behaved, happy and obedient dog will emerge.
 

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Interesting discussion! I am personally against shock collars myself. Does not matter anyway as Netherlands recently banned them. But I just cannot think of any scenario in which I would need one.

I do a lot of training with my dogs, mainly agility and obedience but we dabble in some other things too. At the end of the day, while we are in it to win it, it's all for my and my dog's enjoyment. We have fun doing it. Zuna acts like I am the only one existing during an agility run, eyes fixated on me. And I love it! I feel my dog greatly respects and trusts me and the feeling is mutual. I can't imagine purposely causing her discomfort during any kind of training. Like others, I have found training time to be the best way to bond with a dog.
 

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I'm inclined to let this basically random sampling of videos speak the truth.


Go ahead. Take the time to watch and analyze the videos.

Aside from one dog who momentarily has his head down, I see tails that are up. I see willingness and enjoyment. I see lots of drive. Sure, it's not 'fight and bite and hang on to the death' IGP drive, but still. It's certainly, sufficiently ... there. I see a wide variety of breeds, and temperaments. And, never mind "most" (I seriously take exception to the use of that word earlier in the thread), I don't see ANY dogs who "look like a kid taking a math test.. gritting his teeth just waiting for the darn bell to ring so they can get out of there".

So, there you have it. The truth.
I watched the first two. Just the heeling. The Aussie lags, and has his head down through a lot of it. Lagging is a sign of PRESSURE. Pressure can be from a LOT of things (not necessarily aversive training) from over drilling to the handler nerves (those pheromones will get you ever time) to simply insufficient reward schedule and making the reward valuable to the dog. Honestly? It was pretty typical and lacked drive and interest. Between exercises the drive dropped even more (if that is possible). That dog was doing a math test...

The second video.. 2nd place.. again, the dog was disengaged. He/she was in correct position but showed pressure and NOT a lot of joy and not a lot of drive and certainly not great focus. This dog also exhibits pressure.

I skipped to the Heart 200 video. AT LAST a dog that was engaged and happy to work. A bit too happy (tried to steal the DB out of her hand) but focused on her through the figure 8 and so forth.

THIS is what I mean by engaged, focused and driven heeling.. obedience. Yes it is a world competition and the world competition winner at that time, but this is darn nice work. This produced a V score (which is high 90's out of 100 possible points). Not all breeds will look the same, but this is the attention we are looking for and the dog is actually unloading his energy into the business of obedience. Enjoy.


I will look for more later when I have some time.
 

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I am currently puppy raising (as in raising for someone else) a sports prospect GSD. This dog is from a long line of sports and working lines.

Lots of drive. Lots of desire to bite and hang on. Lots of drive. . Fairly 'hard'. Tons of resilience. Easily frustrated but does. not. quit.

I will tell you bluntly and clearly, simply, and directly that
A-) This dog is not like my border-collie things. It does not do things just because I told it to. It does not respect, trust, or want to work with me just because I exist and have thumbs and I have had to slow my roll and learn some new stuff.
B-) The thing this dog needs to have to work with me is not punishment, much less a shock collar. It needs a relationship with me and to know, trust and to be able to predict me.

I COULD use brute force/punishment without breaking the puppy.

Or I could learn the puppy, let the puppy learn me, build a relationship and do just fine.

Guess which one I'm going with? GO ON. GUESS.
I won't guess. We all know you are the quintessential expert on all things dog training.

Most agility trainers do not use e collars for training. A few do. Again.. it is not the tool it is how you use it.
That said, in agility the obstacles are where the drive is placed and it is very different than IGP or AKC Ob and I appreciate that. What is even more interesting is that the drives required for a good IGP dog are often the same drives required for an agility dog. A lot of GSD breeders PREFER their puppies go to agility homes. Just an FYI. And there are good reasons for this that have nothing to do with IGP.

Again, a tool is only as good as the person handling it. Results count too. As WVasko used to say, "If kissing the dog on the butt got results he would have been the best dog butt kisser on the earth."

I will say this.. hard dog or soft dog.. that is not the criteria for the tool.

I have known dogs that, once in fight drive, actually escalate their fight if corrected by ANY means at all. These dogs are GREAT patrol dogs in tough places... they are not good sport dogs and usually not good pets.

I have seen hard and soft dogs.. and e collars used on both but in different ways with success. It is how and when and how much. You need to know.

The biggest issue with the anti e collar group that I see is that most have never seen one used correctly. They all believe you "fry the dog." If you are doing that, then you are doing it wrong. And.. because they don't know how to use one they all believe it will result in the dog cowering to the ground.. and, if that is what happens you are doing it wrong.

My current dog and the dog before him both were exposed to e collars. In each case the collar was used very differently because the dogs were very different. Last dog? Levels were much higher and this dog very very low... can't go any lower.. and it is used as a reminder. ANY pressure, be it voice, hands, collar correction or even NRM can result in a poor outcome. ANY pressure at all needs to be countered with 3x higher reward.. or you lose the dog.

Here is a general question not just for Cpt Jack (and I know it depends on the dog and the sport):
How long are your training sessions (focused obedience or Agility)? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? an Hour???

If I am training something new (e collar on but not ever used) my dog is toast after about 5-10 minutes including a LOT of play breaks. If I am practicing and polishing something known it is rarely more than 10 minutes actual training and the other 10 minutes are reward breaks. Sometimes reward delivery and giving the reward back is the entirety of training (so the dog knows he doesn't always lose the reward). This is obedience training most of which is parts and pieces. The dog sees the entire routine only in a trial.

Protection training length is determined by a skilled decoy. Rarely more than 10 minutes.. due to the energy consumed by a dog in very high drive.

Regardless of what you are training, you want to go off the field or out of the ring with as much dog as you had going in.
 

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Oh a brief aside...
"Desire to bite" is NOT a criteria of IGP training. "Desire to bite" can come from a LOT of sources.. and often not what you want for either IGP sport or Police work. Understanding this is basic to both and misinterpreted by many.
 

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I just hope the OP didn't drop off their dog with an adverse trainer and leave town.... where they unable to check up on the dogs welfare... May never get the same dog back..
 

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I just can't justify using electric shocks to train a dog to do a hobby activity.
I'm with you, Parus. Just not how I want to build a relationship. Maybe some day I'll have a dog that has such a dangerous behavior (or I'll move somewhere with more venomous snakes) that I'll consider avoidance training. Maybe I'll have a dog one day that's so large and strong that I'll need corrective tools to help with control and keeping us both safe. Especially as I'm fully aware I may not have the time, skills, or resources at the moment to address or manage these potentially dangerous problems in a force-free manner. But for a game? Particularly when there are IGP people and even police K9 trainers who are using force-free methods? I struggle to justify it to myself.

But some people do it, with careful attention to the dog they're working with, and it works. I'm not going to pretend my way is the only effective way, but I will continue to say and believe that some methods - shock collars included - have a much higher risk of fallout than others. I don't take issue with people making the educated, informed decision to use them on their dogs with their goals. I do kinda take issue with the claim that shock collars - or even corrections at all - are absolutely necessary for any/all training or dogs.

Receipts, just in case:

Shade Whitesel does fabulous work with her IPO/IGP dogs

Talk with Steve White, former VP of the CCPDT and long-time K9 trainer using force-free methods

Again, not saying their way is the only way. Just that it's clearly possible, in sports and work.
 

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I am unimpressed with Shade Whitesel's work though she has figured out how to make money. In the video above the dog does the protection routine but I observe a lack of power throughout. There are poor grips (not deep). The bark in the blind is not powerful and is intermittent at times. He bumps the sleeve once that can be seen (judge blocks the view in a lot of it) (a lot of dogs do bump, but it is a point deduction). In the drives the dog is loose in the body indicating a lack of power. In the other holds after the outs the dog is inconsistent going from a silent guard to a barking guard indicating a lack of power (or clarity in training or both).

But this thread is about e collars and their use not Sport protection phase.
 

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I mean. That's okay? You don't have to be impressed. My point was - and still is - that you can work a bitesport dog without shock collars - or any correction - and do it quite successfully. Whether or not you're personally impressed, she's competitive at Nationals with quite high scores on her dogs. Just pointing out that e collars are a choice, not a necessity, in 99% of training. Including venues where they're still in frequent use by high performing dogs and trainers.
 
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