Remote Training Collars
Remote Training Collars or Electronic Collars have gained increasing popularity because they have become increasingly more effective and more humane tools for finishing gun dogs, and for correcting problem behaviors. If you are a novice who plans to purchase and use an electronic collar, I recommend consulting a pro to help you make the correct purchase and to instruct you in its use. Once a pro has taught you the dynamics and use of one, you can continue on your own. Most handlers never fully understand or appreciate the widest applications of remote trainers.
Most problems with gun dogs in the field are a product of distance and distraction. In other words, the dog is either physically out of reach, is distracted or both. Getting from the yard to the field while maintaining control is the issue. In the past, what I call transition training has been facilitated mostly by checkcords of varying lengths with obvious shortcomings. As an illustration of this, let us review the use of the come command in the field. Your dog is one hundred yards out, and not responding to your come command. If you continue to give the command, and the dog continues to disobey, you have successfully taught your dog that it does not have to respond. Remember, ‘never give a command you cannot enforce’. If the dog would decide to come, you cannot discipline once it does so. Your only choice is to get to the dog at the site of the infraction, and punish.
If you do succeed in getting to the dog and applying correction, there are two problems. First, time has elapsed, and the dog is not sure what the correction is for. Second, you must physically correct the dog, becoming the bad guy. Next time the dog resists you even more. If the same dog has been properly preconditioned in the yard to associate the E-collar with the come whistle, you would have a solution to this classic problem. The dog learns that failure to respond to the come whistle brings an immediate stimulation. The correction is immediate, and because of preconditioning, the dog understands exactly what is expected of it. Also, the correction is unassociated with you, so when the dog responds, you praise and become the good guy. You gain confidence in your handling, and the dog clearly understands what is expected of it, so it relaxes and becomes a more efficient hunter. Everyone enjoys the hunting experience more fully. My clients often comment on how much more relaxed their dog is once it has been collar broke. This occurs because the dog understands its job more clearly, and because the handler is more calm, confident and under control.
Remote trainers do work when properly applied, and amazingly to the novice, when correctly used are more humane than many traditional training methods. However, you do not train with an E-collar, and you do not introduce it in the field. In fact, when properly applied you will have to use it very little in the field. You must still train the dog in the traditional manner. Once the dog knows what is expected of it, and is not responding correctly, you can use the E-collar to finish its training, gaining absolute control. The dog is introduced to the collar in a controlled environment in a manner that guarantees success. My program utilizes two yard sessions followed by two field sessions and a progressive technique to engrain coming and quartering to the whistle with use of the collar. After this is done, the dog can be handled in the field flawlessly.
Once the dog is accustomed to the collar for handling, it can be utilized to finish other aspects of its training. The level of stimulation will vary with every dog, and like all training, should only be enough to get the job done. You are not out to cause pain, only to tap the dog on the shoulder to get its attention. The higher levels on the E-collar are for serious misbehavior such as deer chasing. Improper use of the collar, either too much or too frequent stimulation, will make it ineffective, and perhaps ruin your dog. Remember, use only enough pressure to get the job done, no more, no less. This rule holds true for all training.
The ultimate goal of using the E-collar is to no longer need it! This can be accomplished by proper preconditioning in the yard and consistent application in the field for proper whistle response. Correctly used, the collar will become unnecessary because the collar to whistle association has been so engrained in the dog's mind that it will correctly respond to the whistle alone.
In summary, you should seek help in choosing the correct E-collar for your situation, and in proper use of it. My intention is simply to suggest that it is another tool at your disposal, and that it can be a humane and effective one.