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e-collar experts - advice requested

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  • e-collar experts - advice requested

    I'm looking for information regarding when an e-collar is a good idea and when it's a bad idea, and what type of personality in a dog it works for, and what type it might not work so well for. I will not base my decision to get one or not based solely on the responses here; if it sounds as though it might be an option for me I will pursue additional information from local experts. I'm just interested in hearing from dog owners who chose to use these, or chose not to use them, and why that is. Thanks in advance.




  • #2
    An e collar is just a tool. There really isn't a type of dog it works on...they are not just a means of punishment. And never needs to be used as one.

    I know people that have used them to teach heeling and felt it was faster and easier then a collar and leash. It's all about introducing the collar correctly and using it consistently and across a variety of commands.

    I use them for off leash recall mainly and they work very well. I did not use them for anything other than recall, which has had the unfortunate consequence of training my dogs to return to me anytime I use the collar....so if you want to use it for other things you need to be careful to make sure they dont misunderstand the meaning of your command.

    Did you have a specific thing you want to use it for?

    Comment


    • #3
      I got a 3 year old beagle/shepherd mix who wandered too much. She also didn't have a good recall even though I spent about 6 months working with her with treats, etc. Sometimes she actually didn't wander anywhere but was in some tree line and I couldn't see her but she wouldn't come when I called. I bought a GPS unit and paid for the service so that helped a little but all I was doing was just following her around until I actually saw her.

      A boarder/dog trainer had her dog with an e-collar and she showed me how to use it and within about 1 week of consistent use, my dog was actually coming when I called. I never had to use the higher levels, mainly the vibrate and level 1. I still use it occasionally if I will be outside for long periods of time and won't be paying attention to the dog but it's mainly for my peace of mind.

      Comment


      • #4
        People have a lot of strong feelings about e-collars. Mine are mixed. I used one to teach a dog to keep out of pastures, to leave horse poop alone, and to support recall. I say "support" because I taught the dog a thousand different recall skills with positive reinforcement, and used the e-collar solely to take the fun out of endless games of keep-away (See? I can still touch you from here). I should've just waited until he was mature enough to be off-leash. Like S1969, my dog now sees it as a recall tool only, so I don't use it anymore.

        I wish I hadn't used it, and I don't think that I will with future dogs. While it was quick and convenient to use this way, I could've done it the "right" way with more patience or skill.

        Recall skills included recall games, disassociating recall from leaving the "party", integrating toys into recall exercises, building check-ins, etc.

        Edited to add: I hesitated to get into this, but as we always say in discussions of draw reins and bits, what is a useful tool in one person's hands is a torture device in another. Painful or not, they use something unpleasant to motivate. There are scenarios in which e-collars are likely to make the dog's behavior worse, like leash reactivity, where the dog strains on the leash to reach other dogs, people, moving objects, etc. or lunges and barks. Ditto barking at visitors and barking when left. In any of these situations, using positive punishment to correct the behavior can (or will) bleed into the situation itself. So now your puppy is not only scared because he's pretty sure you've forgotten him in the house, you'll never come back, and he'll have to dig his way out or starve to death, but because every time he tries to alert you to this fact, something else unpleasant happens. So he might learn not to bark but he's still very afraid.

        I do not judge people in areas with rattlesnakes who use e-collars to make dogs fear and avoid them. That seems like a fair trade to me.
        Last edited by BravAddict; Jun. 10, 2019, 05:00 PM. Reason: Second thoughts.
        Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks all, this is helpful. I'm potentially interested in using the collar for recall when we are away at a family property in the mountains with no fenced in area. My dog is hugely people oriented, does not have any independent streak whatsoever, and can panic at the smallest change to the point where she loses her mind and is not paying attention to anything in the present. She has a recall in our fenced in property at home, but she has never been off leash anywhere else. The property in the mountains is 600 acres and not accessible by any roads, so getting hit by a car is not a concern.

          My concern is that something will scare her (a deer, a loud noise, another dog, really anything - she really is timid and panics easily) and she will take off, won't hear me calling her, and will get lost somewhere in the 600 acres.

          I will probably just continue to board her - the fact that I have zero experience with e-collars makes me even more skeptical about using it on a dog that panics easily, and I would never forgive myself if I did something wrong and made her even more flaky and unsure of herself than she already is when she is outside of her comfort zone (the couch, the bed, the recliner). She actually loves it at the kennel and they love her too.

          Having said all that, if anyone has any additional comments/opinions based on this post, I would love to hear them. Thanks again.

          Comment


          • #6
            Many e collars (and maybe some without the "e"?) have a vibrate setting. It's like a little tap on the shoulder...hello, remember me? I'm talking to you. Perhaps that's the functionality you're looking for, more than the zappy part? They can also come with a positive noise, I think--you do the work to associate it, but at the push of a button, you get a "good dog" where the dog can definitely hear.

            Or how about a gps tracking collar instead?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BravAddict View Post
              People have a lot of strong feelings about e-collars. Mine are mixed. I used one to teach a dog to keep out of pastures, to leave horse poop alone, and to support recall. I say "support" because I taught the dog a thousand different recall skills with positive reinforcement, and used the e-collar solely to take the fun out of endless games of keep-away (See? I can still touch you from here). I should've just waited until he was mature enough to be off-leash. Like S1969, my dog now sees it as a recall tool only, so I don't use it anymore.

              I wish I hadn't used it, and I don't think that I will with future dogs. While it was quick and convenient to use this way, I could've done it the "right" way with more patience or skill.

              Recall skills included recall games, disassociating recall from leaving the "party", integrating toys into recall exercises, building check-ins, etc.

              Edited to add: I hesitated to get into this, but as we always say in discussions of draw reins and bits, what is a useful tool in one person's hands is a torture device in another. Painful or not, they use something unpleasant to motivate. There are scenarios in which e-collars are likely to make the dog's behavior worse, like leash reactivity, where the dog strains on the leash to reach other dogs, people, moving objects, etc. or lunges and barks. Ditto barking at visitors and barking when left. In any of these situations, using positive punishment to correct the behavior can (or will) bleed into the situation itself. So now your puppy is not only scared because he's pretty sure you've forgotten him in the house, you'll never come back, and he'll have to dig his way out or starve to death, but because every time he tries to alert you to this fact, something else unpleasant happens. So he might learn not to bark but he's still very afraid.

              I do not judge people in areas with rattlesnakes who use e-collars to make dogs fear and avoid them. That seems like a fair trade to me.
              I disagree with this pretty much 100%.

              My personal training example with e-collars isn't that they don't work or are punitive, but because I didn't cross-train them. For example, I didn't reinforce "sit" with an e-collar (which is very easy to do), or "whoa" with an e-collar (also very easy). I only used it for recall when running them off lead, so if I ever "communicate" with my dog, whether it is by beeping them, or by buzzing them with stim - they assume I mean "come back to me". It's not that they are afraid or upset - it's just that they didn't learn it could mean more than one thing.

              Using negative reinforcement is pretty much how all horses are taught and ridden -- pressure and release. That is all an e-collar is to a dog - it can be used for positive punishment, but that's not how you should use it for most things. You can set the stim setting so low it is just an annoying tap to them. And if they ignore your command they feel tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap until they do what you ask. Just like asking a horse to move off your leg. They can ignore the tap, and you can turn up the stim so it feels uncomfortable to ignore - just like you can use your heel an kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, a horse that keeps rubbing you into the fence. I am not sure why people think that using negative reinforcement on a dog is "mean" but on a horse it is "normal." Why is that?

              The other issue I have with this post is that it assumes that dogs who are trained to recall (or anything) with a collar have not also been trained with positive reinforcement - and that is totally not the case. My dogs all learned to recall before they wore an e-collar. And most of the time I don't have to communicate using the collars at all - they are whistle trained as well and usually respond to that with great enthusiasm, because they like to run off lead "with me" like we are hunting together. But as a hunting breed - finding an animal can be the strongest positive reinforcement for them, and anything I might offer instead could be ignored. With 3 dogs off lead on 40 acres - I don't want to hope they respond. I want to know they will come back when I give the command.

              I do agree that using an e-collar after a dog lunges is the wrong approach. The key would be to use it to keep them from lunging - e.g. by having them recall or sit, or whoa. And you can reinforce that with the collar if you need to; e.g. if they ignore you or refuse to comply. But an e-collar is probably not the best tool for a reactive dog that lunges - just because you own one, doesn't mean it's the only thing you can use.

              Used properly, a dog should not be afraid of an e-collar. They are great for recall, though, because you have control at a much greater distance than a leash offers. Not all dogs need them, of course. I agree that a GPS collar might be more useful although most of them have stim setting too, so you have the option of using both.

              Comment


              • #8
                Interesting.
                I just bought a wireless fence system and need to decide some things about commands and recall
                *************************
                Go, Baby, Go......
                Aefvue Farms Footing Inspector

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have mixed feelings,s too. I need to find a way to contain our Boxer because she likes to go a-visiting. However, she has almost no hair under her chin and when our trainer tried it on her, on the lowest setting, she cried like a baby and ran further away. I felt like a real s**t.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                    I have mixed feelings,s too. I need to find a way to contain our Boxer because she likes to go a-visiting. However, she has almost no hair under her chin and when our trainer tried it on her, on the lowest setting, she cried like a baby and ran further away. I felt like a real s**t.
                    What brand did you use?

                    Did you try it on yourself first?

                    The better brands have lots of settings. Some so low the dogs can't feel them. I would assume a cheaper brand probably has fewer.

                    My dog has hair but the first couple of settings he didn't feel anything. The next couple he sort of looked around trying to figure out what touched him.

                    That said - if your dog likes to go visiting - are you only thinking of using the collar when she is with you? E-collars and electronic fences are not the same, and while both can be effective - you have a lot more control with a hand held controller. The timing of the reinforcement is what makes the training effective.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ynl063w View Post
                      The property in the mountains is 600 acres and not accessible by any roads, so getting hit by a car is not a concern.

                      My concern is that something will scare her (a deer, a loud noise, another dog, really anything - she really is timid and panics easily) and she will take off, won't hear me calling her, and will get lost somewhere in the 600 acres.
                      Just to add to your pile of stuff to consider, Garmin makes a great GPS tracking collar, with or without the zapping capability. I have the one that can't zap, because I just needed to be able to find my little old lady when she wandered.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We have two GSP dogs, and used a combination of positive reinforcement and an e-collar to train recall, as well as other commands, including don't chase the cats and don't chase the chickens. One of the dogs in particular is highly food motivated, so using positive reinforcement with him was easy. He would do almost anything for a treat. The other is very sensitive and much like a cat when it comes to food, ie, maybe he wants a treat and maybe he doesn't.

                        Both of these dogs respond well to the e-collar, and are reliable with a recall on hikes unleashed. The sensitive dog has never needed anything other than the vibrate setting. Neither dog is fearful of it, and neither needs it very often now, although they do wear collars on hikes. Pointers can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, so responding to an e-collar is a big help.
                        Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                        www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Wanted to add that none of my dogs are afraid of the e-collar. However, they seem to "behave" better when it's on. For instance, my ex-wanderer is almost always within my line of sight when she has the collar on. I very rarely have to use it. But, with no collar, she can be no where in sight then I start calling and eventually she does come (even with treats) but it's not as immediate as when I use the e-collar on vibrate. If I have to end up walking around calling for her a few days in a row, the collar comes back on for a couple of days after that. By the way, her reaction to the vibration setting is shaking her head.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Irish Ei's View Post
                            Interesting.
                            I just bought a wireless fence system and need to decide some things about commands and recall
                            We had a GSP a few years ago who was well trained to the e-collar; actually she was well trained to everything and one of the best dogs we ever had. However, she would wander and even though we live in the country that isn't the best thing, so we decided to try the wireless fence. It was awful for her. The first time she got near the wireless boundary and got a buzz, it terrified her and from then on, she wouldn't go anywhere near it, including to get a drink. The water was within four feet of the fence, and that was as close as she would go. We also didn't like her having to wear an e-collar all the time, so we quit using it for her. A subsequent dog was much less sensitive, and ignored it completely.
                            Mystic Owl Sporthorses
                            www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm taking this slowly and seriously.
                              Holding it in my hands the other day he bolted back when it beeped a warning.
                              I may never have to zap him.
                              Just need to decide what result I want from him if and when it happens.
                              *************************
                              Go, Baby, Go......
                              Aefvue Farms Footing Inspector

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Saskatoonian View Post

                                Just to add to your pile of stuff to consider, Garmin makes a great GPS tracking collar, with or without the zapping capability. I have the one that can't zap, because I just needed to be able to find my little old lady when she wandered.
                                I like the idea of a GPS collar, but there is next to no cell phone service (and no internet) at the property. I have no interest in letting her out the door while I stay inside; I would always be outside with her and I just want to be able to call her back if I think she's getting a little too far away for my comfort. And I REALLY don't want one of those situations like the fourth of July when dogs get so freaked out by fireworks that they blindly take off and are never seen again. I wonder if a zap would even get through to a dog who is in that kind of panic mode anyway?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by clint View Post

                                  We had a GSP a few years ago who was well trained to the e-collar; actually she was well trained to everything and one of the best dogs we ever had. However, she would wander and even though we live in the country that isn't the best thing, so we decided to try the wireless fence. It was awful for her. The first time she got near the wireless boundary and got a buzz, it terrified her and from then on, she wouldn't go anywhere near it, including to get a drink. The water was within four feet of the fence, and that was as close as she would go. We also didn't like her having to wear an e-collar all the time, so we quit using it for her. A subsequent dog was much less sensitive, and ignored it completely.
                                  I am not sure that's an issue of being physically sensitive - but not being able to figure out the pattern. Especially if the collar isn't great - it might not always deliver the same intensity of shock - for example if the batteries were low, or if the collar/dog got wet and decreased the resistance. Maybe sometimes it shocked her, sometimes it didn't. That sure could be scary/confusing for a dog.

                                  I wonder if a zap would even get through to a dog who is in that kind of panic mode anyway?
                                  My answer would be no. Again, thinking about the e-collar like using your leg on a horse - if your horse is bolting, you're not going to try using leg pressure to try to turn them back toward home. Your only option might be to zap them hard - which is definitely not going to be reliable.

                                  That said, it's possible that she may respond very well to the collar anyway, and it may be useful so long as she is not in a panic. Usually it's like having an intercom system for your dogs - you can communicate with them at a further distance than you can easily communicate with your voice.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Agreed with S1969. My little old lady panicked badly during thunderstorms and I'm positive a zap wouldn't have gotten through to her. I'd worry about the opposite. The garmin told me which direction she was headed and how fast, and let me find her. It was a miracle. (Cell service doesn't matter - ours is lousy.)

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Quote from OP: I would always be outside with her and I just want to be able to call her back if I think she's getting a little too far away for my comfort.

                                      This is exactly the reason why I wanted to try the e-collar. As mentioned, I got a GPS system and used that for almost a year and made sure I had treats of all types so that when she came to my call, she would be fully rewarded. But all I was doing was running around after the dog(s). I had to literally be almost on top of her calling (she would be in trees/bushes) before she would come. Her recall in the house/barn/in a calm situation was good but just terrible when she was chasing something or digging for something. Also, the GPS was sometimes a few seconds to a minute behind and I was in perpetual panic mode before I found her.

                                      So even though I like the e-collar, I don't use it for anything else other than recall.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        E-collar is banned in Austria. Problem I see with tools like this: so many people have no/bad timing, even when it comes to basic dog training. Not able to call for or praise a dog immediately, too boring and slow for the dog. For an insecure dog or people with bad timing tools like e-collar are inappropriate.

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