In this post, I want to address some of the challenges of the electric training collar. Those of you who know a little about my company know that we use these collars with most of our clients. We do this because, done correctly, the collar allows us to get to an advanced level of off-leash obedience quickly, while being very humane and easy on both the dog and the owner.
Sounds like a tall order, right? Easier, quicker, more humane—must be a pretty amazing tool! The electric collar is very cool technology, but how you train is even more important. I was reminded of this yesterday while I was on a walk with Chocolate Chip.
Then, the most perfect storm came at us. A young girl—probably sixteen or seventeen—on a hoverboard, with two big dogs. She’s not wearing shoes, and neither of the dogs are on a leash. Those dogs saw Chip, and immediately came charging toward her. “Oh boy,” I thought. “We’re going to have an issue.” I kept yelling at the girl to get her dogs on a leash, but she didn’t even have one with her! She was apologizing and telling the dogs to come back. Thankfully, both dogs were nice and Chocolate Chip did a fine job of handling the situation. Even though it turned out fine, these two dogs could have easily freaked her out.
Both of the dogs were wearing electric collars. “They’re on electric collars,” she said. “I can’t believe they’re doing this.” The collars were the pet store variety. I knew they are low quality and don’t work very well, so I realized immediately that the family hadn’t worked with a dog trainer. No trainer uses collars of that low quality. These dogs had
Now, I’m not anti-DIY, and I don’t have a problem with people who want to do things on their own. But electric collars are not intuitive. You don’t just turn it on and hit a button, which is exactly what this girl was doing. She was able to get one dog under control, but the other one just ran off. Once I got back to my house I peeked out the window to see what was happening, and that dog was still off on a nearby hillside.
This is what happens when training tools are used improperly. From the collars used and the behavior of the dogs, I could tell that this family had no professional help—yet they were using a tool that requires a lot of skill. Tools are wonderful. You can use a hammer to fix a wall—or to break one down.
When it comes to training your dog, don’t just buy tools thinking that you can figure them out as you go. This rarely works, and even when it does, owners usually end up causing stress and damage to their dogs.