WHAT IS AN E-COLLAR?
E-collars, in good hands, are safe. Many people have reasonable concerns regarding electric stimulation. It is nothing like a taser – there is no visible arcing, sparking, or popping. Modern electric collars use the same technology found at many physical therapy clinics; TENS units are used on humans when rehabilitating a weak or cramped muscle.
The sensation of the e-collar, appropriately set to the dog’s sensitivity, comes through cleanly and distinctly, alleviating the confusion and anxiety that contribute to misbehavior.
Note: abusing any tool can be damaging, and e-collars are no exception, but correctly using the device IS safe.
IS IT HUMANE?
Proper e-collar use is entirely humane. The tool is used with compassion and benevolence to resolve misbehavior. These misbehaviors left unchecked ultimately limit the dog’s experience and causes major, often safety, concerns for said dog and the humans around them. Proper use also dictates that the lowest, effective level is used, so the intervention is minimally uncomfortable and as brief as possible. It is far more humane to produce happy dogs who experience larger, freer, more included lives than to spare dogs all momentary discomfort. For many dogs, life without corrective feedback is living as a tyrant or living a life of exclusion.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
When sending stimulation (stim), the handler provides the dog with feedback or valuable information about how to act to get a positive outcome. The stim allows the dog to refocus on the trainer and the instruction, as it discourages engaging with distractions and temptations. It enables the dog to adjust its behavior instead of repeating something that doesn’t work. During moments of misconduct, dogs respond to timely, well-calibrated feedback, letting them know to course correct to get a positive outcome.
HOW IS FEEDBACK EXPERIENCED BY THE DOG?
Low levels are barely perceivable and often are described as a “tickle.” Strong, corrective feedback levels will contract the muscle and feel like a firm pinch with an uncomfortable tingle. Still, the stimulation will not physically damage the dog. More robust levels are used for generally sturdier dogs or when the dog is more determined to misbehave. Lower levels are always preferred because it’s fairer to the dog and avoids confusion resulting from an overwhelming correction. The dog’s experience of the stim sensation varies depending on how mentally determined and physically engaged the dog is at the moment. The more committed and physically engaged, the less they’ll feel the stimulation; therefore, a higher level is required in such high-drive moments. Imagine yourself playing a game of football, breaking tackles, charging for the endzone, a faint tickle of a feather may not even be perceivable in such a moment, but relaxed in your favorite armchair you could easily feel it. Stimulation can be faint or robust depending on the situation, but we always aim for the lowest effective level.
WHERE DO I BEGIN?
- Read and follow all instructions in the e-collar manual to safely use the device.
- Allow the dog to wear the e-collar around the house without using stimulation.
- Find the perception level (the lowest perceivable level) that works best for your dog. Start at level 1 and work your way up until you notice your dog consistently looking to their shoulder/neck or a muscle contraction around the same spot. Some dogs have different or muted tells, so watch closely for a sign that they feel it. You may not have a subtle response if you use a system with less than 100 levels of stimulation. We advise working with the FOB Educator FE-560 for most dogs.
- Once you find your dog’s perception level, slowly use the tool to provide feedback. Gradually increase the stimulation level till the dog gently recoils and/or stops the misbehavior. This is your motivation level, and it’s a moving target depending on the current determination level of the dog, as mentioned above.
SO, WHY DOES CHILL OUT DOG TRAINING RECOMMEND E-COLLARS?
The reason e-collars work so well is that dogs, like humans, learn from feedback.
Your dog learns that they control the stimulation with their behavior. When a dog can’t seem to help itself from acting out, a touch from the e-collar can guide them towards a better choice.
E-collars help dogs make better and safer choices, choices that lead them to joys they didn’t know were even on the table! Combine all that with the fact that most systems have a several hundred-yard range, and you’ve got yourself a game-changing training device. We’ve seen “lost causes”, whether stubborn or anxious, come back into the fold with this tool time and time again.
If you were willing to read through this article, you can trust that you’d be a fair and effective e-collar user. For those that need additional assistance introducing an e-collar, Contact Us and one of our experienced trainers will help you.