A: Providing dogs with both positive and negative feedback is integral to my program. What we use depends on what we are training and what level of understanding the dog has at the time. We initially train obedience commands using positive reinforcement methods, specifically, clicker training.
If your dog exhibits any unwanted, problematic, or dangerous behaviors, including non-compliance of a command that they know well, we use fair and appropriate corrections to reduce and eliminate the behavior. Then we can provide them with guidance and reward them for making better decisions! This creates an inhibition of the old behavior, while reinforcing and solidifying the new, more desirable behavior.
Using a balanced approach is the most effective way to increase desired behaviors and decrease undesired behaviors. Using only one approach would significantly hamper results. A big part of what we do is educating owners on how to provide this clear and consistent feedback at home in a fair and effective manner.
A:Short answer: These are the tools that have helped my clients and their dogs the most. These are the best, most effective tools in my experience. They give you incredible flexibility and funcionality.
Want to know more? Modern remote collars are incredibly versatile! One reason they are so valuable is that dogs don’t understand English, and communicate physically much more readily than verbally. Most of what we say is “blah, blah, blah” to the dog. We only use one brand of e-collar. They have 100 levels of stimulation, and have a range of 1/3 mile to 1 full mile, depending on the particular model! This makes them perfect for dogs of any sensitivity level. Low level stimulation is a tool most people are unfamiliar with. Even puppies can start training with this as young as 16 weeks. It is not painful (in fact it is imperceptible to most humans), and it allows us one more very valuable way to communicate with and motivate our dogs, even nervous and fearful dogs! Imagine your dog is a half mile away—but now you can tap him on the shoulder! These low levels are what we use when we initially lay our ecollar foundation, with more motivating levels being used in the second phase of training to break through distractions, gain your dog’s attention, and influence their decision making. With a well laid foundation, your dog is essentially in control of the ecollar at all times.
Remote collars offer owners the ability to communicate with their dog off-leash, whether it is a low-level reminder or a higher, corrective level of stimulation that you need in a particular scenario. I never recommend that a dog be off-leash outside without e-collar training! It is like a safety belt, giving you peace of mind that you’ll be able to keep your dog and everyone around you safer because you now have the ability to get your dog’s attention in the event of an unexpected occurance. Historically, remote collars have helped my clients to be very successful in a broad range of circumstances.
While prong collars may look rather barbaric to a person who is not accustomed to using them, the truth is that prong collars are an extremely safe, versatile, and effective tool. They are used for teaching leash walking, foundational obedience, stopping unwanted behaviors, and utilize pressure and release to help teach your dog to settle without having to yell endless commands at them. It’s another way to communicate physically with your dog which is a very valuable mode of communication that most dog owners are not utilizing. 95% of the dogs (including puppies!) in my program will work on a prong. Remember, it’s just a tool—YOU control it. I teach my clients solid leash handling skills so that they can effectively communicate with their dog through the leash and collar. This can be very difficult to do on other styles of collar. The prong collar is superior because the dog can feel everything you are saying through the leash. Once you try it, you will LOVE it!
That being said, there is always a possibility of a dog reacting aggressively to being corrected or restrained against their will, particularly if they never have been before. That isn’t “creating aggression” it is *revealing* aggression that just hadn’t surfaced because we had always allowed the bad behavior (often out of fear of being bitten..in other words, we knew it was in there, but we didn’t want to see it, so we just kissed the dog’s bum). I’ve seen dogs on nothing but a regular flat collar spin around and bite their handler because they couldn’t get to another dog. Was it the regular nylon collar that made the dog aggressive? Of course not. It’s equally ridiculous to blame an ecollar. This is not a typical reaction from a dog in a respectful headspace, rather it is indicative of a dog that lacks a lot of respect for the human, which is often what we are there to fix in the first place.
As with all tools, we provide lots of training. The tool itself won’t do the training! You should not put an e-collar on your dog and just randomly push buttons. In our program, your dog will have a full understanding of what the stimulation is and how to respond to it. The results speak for themselves. The idea that an ecollar will create a negative association with things we didn’t intend is generally promulgated to scare people. Sadly, this information is false and generally serves to keep people and their dogs stuck. My clients have been very successful using the remote collar, and you can be too.