Remote Collar Basics

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Remote collars and today's hunting dogs go hand in hand. Many dog owners these days, both hunters and non hunters alike, are utilizing remote collars for every day training. These tools are remarkable when used properly but we all know that most people do not use them properly. I want to highlight a few points about using a collar properly. In my next post we will try to help you choose one.

First off, let's remember that stimulating a dog with a collar is not intended to be used as a punishment. If your dog is doing something he is not supposed to, you don't just mash buttons and shock the dog, he doesn't understand and you are not accomplishing anything except making him scared and confused. We will touch back on this soon.

With that out of the way let's talk about how the collar is intended to be used. There are two basic ways that people use them. The first is commonly referred to as "trash-breaking". An example of this is when the dog gets caught in the garbage or is eating something he isn't supposed to. You catch him in the act, you apply stimulation, and after a few times he doesn't do it anymore. People commonly use this method to associate certain dog behaviors with something unpleasant. The dog learns that if he eats garbage, chases a deer, jumps on you, or any other number of unwanted behaviors, something bad will happen to him. When possible always associate a stimulation with a verbal command when the dog already understands the action. The dog understands the command "NO" or at least he should. Now with the addition of the collar he knows that NO means more than just a loud noise. 

Personally, I am a fan of not using verbal commands when the dog doesn't understand the action, at least as it relates to trashbreaking. The least amount of negative things I can associate myself with, the better off I will be. For example, the dog has never chewed a sock before and therefore he doesn't know that its bad. The next time I catch him I give him a shock, a hard one and I say nothing. You do this every time you see the behavior and eventually he will associate the sock with the shock and not with you. With all this said, what you never do, is shock a dog after the fact. This goes back to what we mean by saying it's not a punishment. You only stimulate the dog when they are caught in the act. Dogs have a short attention span and it's important that they associate the stimulation with the action. Shock a dog too long after he does something and he will think it happened for no reason, not to mention that you're probably talking or yelling at him so now you are the bad guy, we don't want that.

The other way we use the collar, is to enforce commands the dog already understands, usually at a distance. For example, most dogs know they have to listen to you on a leash and they behave very well, when you take them off the leash they quickly understand they have a little more freedom. With the electronic collar, they don't have this freedom. This is why it's important that they understand the command. If you yell "here" at a dog and shock them when they don't respond, the dog doesn't know why they felt the shock. If they know they are supposed to come when called and you shock them, now they understand why they felt the stimulation. This is why I'm a fan of using constant stimulation. I apply stimulation until I get the desired result. If I stimulate the dog because they didn't come when called, I continue to apply the stimulation until they start to give me the response I want, in this case, coming towards me. Now hopefully you can see the benefits of using a device like this if you already don't. It can give you more control and it certainly gives you more tools to work with.

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