Dogs 4 Life
Whole Dog Training and Wellness Center
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Remote Possibility: Remote Collar Training
Christine Johnson, PDT, SAAM
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
It is important in any training program to effectively communicate, be consistent, to have good timing for reinforcement and flexible in your methods. I will say training techniques of today are not what they were years ago. Our methods of training have become more humane in nature as oppose to the traditional methods of yank and crank, or bad dog “shock” of yesteryear.
Being a multi method trainer, I find remote collar training to exceed the benefit of any single method training program because it adds to the flexibility, distance and immediate communication to each dog’s training. However this must be done appropriately and is not a tool for "bad dog" corrections. In addition to flexibility and consistency, balanced training is required. Balanced training is somewhere between cookie training methods and harsh intimidation methods. By adding balance to your programs, you can create rules and structure necessary for bonding the human/dog pack.
Understanding the phases of training:
The Learning Phase: is the first stage in training. Here is where we teach dog new commands, this should be fun and rewarding; using toys and treats to help set memorable positive experiences. I will mention that often we bypass this stage of training too quickly. After the dog has had adequate time to learn we can move to the next level.
Rules and Structure: At this stage we can help the dog connect words and action and that rules apply in any setting, even when distracted. But a word of warning: Using intimidation methods, harsh corrections, can cause fear and add stress to the training process making it difficult for the dog to focus and respond. Keep in mind that each dog’s personality, temperament and breed play a part on how and what techniques are most effective for that dog’s ability to learn.
The challenge for the dog is the anticipating of how fast the behavior should change according to the owner. When working on behavioral issues or even basic commands there are required building blocks. We must break down each command into simple steps to guide the dog from level to level with minimal corrections to keep training in a positive flow. By jumping too far ahead, the dog may feel confusion resulting in increased corrective measures. This breaks down the training process, causes stress, and makes it difficult to learn. Training becomes less interactive, because it is too difficult for the dog to “connect the dots” and put the missing steps together. This is frustrating for the dog and the owner as the behavior problems continue or escalate in to more advanced or new behaviors resulting in the owner beginning to think that their dog is stubborn or unwilling to adjust.
Why a remote training is effective? The collar offers consistent and immediate communication that rarely changes. One’s voice needs never to become harsh or loud, and it keeps training on a positive up beat (upbeat) tone for the dog. Yanking on the dog’s collar or any of the other traditional corrective training methods need never be used. This is a wonderful alternative for training fearful and timid dogs. Simply the idea is to interrupt the thought or direction of the dog to gain their attention in a manner that is low level and positive in order to insert the new commands being trained.
Training takes time for the dog to learn new skills and respond to language directions from the owner. Working with the dog daily helps establish new habits. Rushing through these steps is a failure on the owner’s part to become an effective communicator. Owners want efficacy and effectiveness when dealing with problematic behaviors. However even a trainer must follow all of the steps in order to set the dog a clear path of focus. However, at the moment the dog is travailing down the wrong path we can immediately communicate and gain the attention to insert the new response.
That response behavior needs to be taught to the dog prior to insertion in the routine or training. For many trainers the goal is not to beat the dog down into submission through force and intimidation as this type of training does not add to the stability of the overall dog and nobody wants their dog to live a life in fear.
Changing Behavior: When working with older dogs with established behavior problems usually requires a knowledgeable and experienced professional to guide the pet owner in becoming a more effective communicator. The key is the ability to read the dog’s language before the reaction which is a skill beyond a typical owner’s ability. A skilled professional has the ability to read the dog’s action and reaction, and is capable of expert timing of interrupting the old pattern behaviors and inserting a new habit response. Behavior issues and time restraints challenge a trainer to “think outside the box” get into the frame of mind from a dogs perspective. This is a challenge even for the most skilled.
The benefit in training with a remote collar is that the environment is more controlled which encourages learning and is less correctional, less forceful, less intimidating, and therefore less stressful. It allows the trainer to quickly change the pattern and teach the dog how to focus; keeping in mind without focus from the dog no behavior can be extinguished.
For the past three years I have been training with a remote training collar which results in a 98% efficacy, and behaviors can be established quickly in a manner the owner can continue at home without a decline in their dog’s training. Why? Because communication is delivered threw exact measurements and does not vary based on the owner’s personal mood or level of frustration. By precisely timing the interruption of the dog’s thoughts and refocusing them on the request/command the owner achieves efficiency and effectiveness in their communication.
A skilled professional properly trained can utilize this tool in a dog friendly training program, set new patterns of behavior, and teach the owners the RESPONSIBLE use of the tool. I am NOT a supporter of retailers selling an untrained pet owner who may misuse the tool as a punishment without taking the proper steps to train the dog. Remote training collars are not to be used to zap the dog. If taught properly the dog learns that they have the power and control of the stimulant. Properly used the remote collar offers a gentle and effective way of interruption and gaining focus in order to communication with the dog.
Here is an example: a 9 month old Golden Retriever who the owner claims is in need of “basic training and leash walking” The dog was described as distracted. However upon receiving this dog, it became clear within minutes that this dog was far beyond distracted, and raged in fear. The dog would release his annals, if the wind blew the tree leaves, heard barking dogs blocks away, if a blade of grass was longer than the rest, if there was a dandelion in the yard. He literally would constantly be looking behind him as if the boogie monster was going to leap at him any movement. There was absolutely no way to train a dog living in this emotional imbalanced state. It became apparent that the problem was an addiction to adrenalin, which he would receive every time he would scare himself.
The first portion of training was teaching the dog the word “get easy” meaning to relax on cue, this required multiple techniques ranging from massage, Bach remedies, and a bridge to target technique for retraining the brain. The remote training collar was used at the onset of the dog startling himself to interrupt his old pattern, allowing time to insert the word “get easy” encouraging the new behavior of a relaxed state of being. From there I was able to gain focus and build his basic commands, walking nice and calmly in a distraction without a fear reactive adrenal junkie dog. This was done in 10 days with intense training.
Ultimately there will be those who agree or disagree, however balanced training, learning effective communications, and flexible training methods are required for professional Dog Trainers to provide effective results.
"Dear Chris, I wanted to let you know that Bailey is doing really well. I just cannot believe that she and I can go outside let alone for walks without worrying that she will bolt out of fear. She is not afraid of everything anymore, she is relaxed. I just can't believe the difference! Her stay with you to work the behavior (fear issues) and obedience program was the best investment I ever made. What a difference. I took her walk last night and two flags where really blowing and flapping in the wind, I gave her cue, she calmed herself and we finished the walk. Truly and disbelievingly AMAZING, my great niece can't believe how good, calm and obedient she is. Thank you again so much for giving me a dog that I can enjoy and who is so much happier now. Bailey could not have archived this without your help." Deb and Bailey Serby
Dogs 4 Life Training and Wellness, St. Charles IL
Remote collar training offers a pet owner flexibility in their training needs. Advanced obedience, off leash reliability, and is gentle enough for dogs that have extreme fear.