As you have browsed our website you have probably picked up on the fact that we at Sit Happens are a balanced dog training company. What does that mean? The short answer is: we have many tools, techniques and methods that we deem acceptable for dog training and bringing our clients results.
If you’ve made it this far and are interested in the services we offer, below you will find more information on some of the tools we use.
In this post, I will address one of the more controversial tools: the e-collar.
WHY E-COLLAR TRAINING?
Let’s be clear from the start, when we say e-collar, we are NOT speaking about the traditional hunting dog shock collar.
THIS IS NOT YO MOMMA’S SHOCK COLLAR!
The electronic remote collars of today contain technology that has caught up to the dogs. They use what is known as TENS unit technology, meaning they are nerve stimulators, not shocking devices.
To better understand the e-collar of today, we need to understand the way a TENS unit works and how it is used.
According to WebMd “ TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation , is a back pain treatment that uses low voltage electric current to relieve pain.”
Definition of Transcutaneous: passing, entering, or made by penetration through the skin
There are a couple theories about why/how the TENS unit actually works. One theory (called the GATE theory) proposes that stimulating nerves closes a “gate” mechanism in the spine. This gate sends the pain signals to your body/spine. Closing the gate via stimulation stops the pain signals and thus the pain. The stimulation instead travels along the nerves and the user feels a tingling sensation.
Another theory claims that the nerve stimulation produces endorphins and thus the pain signals are overridden by a natural chemical our body produces.
Essentially, the TENS unit uses low level electricity to help stimulate our body into producing a natural painkiller: endorphins. In some cases it can replace the need
for medications. However, Sit Happens does not claim to be an expert on this subject matter nor do we intend for this information to be used as a medical advice.
Now, let’s talk about the e-collar. Electronic remote collars stimulate the nerves in your dog’s neck. If you’ve felt an e-collar before likely the first sensation you felt was similar to that of a butterfly wing, or maybe a bug crawling on your skin. Whatever you liken it to, the sensation is NOT painful.
At Sit Happens the brand of e-collar we use is top of the line. E-collar technologies designed their collars to have 100 levels of stimulation. This means your dog has a range of 0-100 to find their working level and their correction levels.
To give you an idea of the levels, most humans feel the stimulation between levels 8-25; that is a LOT of range. Most dogs feel the levels as low as 3-12.
However, the number/level in which you or your dog feel the stimulation is a malleable number. It can change for many reasons.
Ex: the subject is too hot, too cold, in pain, hungry, full, low blood sugar, under the influence of another substance, there skin is thin, their skin is thick. Maybe you’re indoors or outdoors. The subject’s levels can change depending on the weather and or the level of environmental stimulants around them.
Just because you discover you feel the electronic collar for the first time on a level 14, doesn’t mean that will always be your working level.
Often, dogs will feel the stimulation on a higher level the first time they wear the collar and as they start to understand and pay attention to the sensation, they become more sensitive to it and their working level goes down.
All of this information shared, to say, this is why we prefer to introduce the e-collar to your dog in a board and train environment. The e-collar is not an exact science for you or your dog, at least not initially. It takes time, practice and patience to help your dog become in tune with the collar and then to translate its sensation with a positive reinforcing reward.
Our goal with e-collar training is to translate our physical touch with our dogs to equal your dogs working level stimulation. When I leave the room, I want my dog to still FEEL my presence so they have constant feedback and information. For example, if I put my dog in a PLACE command (a raised or elevated surface) while I
bring in groceries, I don’t want my dog to break that command and run outside just because they lost sight of me. So I will put the e-collar on my dog, stim with PLACE command and step outside. If my dog stands and takes even one paw off of PLACE while I watch through the window, I will stimulate on their working level and they will stop. It’s as if they feel my intentions for them to hold the command.
We have seen success with anxious dogs when they feel the sensation of their handler, yet cannot see their handler. This gives the dog confidence they haven’t been abandoned. This is one of many examples and situations in which the e-collar is a valuable tool.
E-collar technologies designed their collars to work up to half a mile away (some are designed to work further away, but we work with the half mile collars unless otherwise requested).
The success of training with an e-collar is partially due to the fact they give our dogs constant feedback and guidance whether we are close or far away. Because of this form of communication dogs are more confident.
We often refer to the stimulation as pressure and we value working dogs through pressure with positive rewards because it teaches dogs coping skills. Life is full of stress and struggles. We at Sit Happens believe strongly in giving dogs the skills to cope, build confidence and develop higher order thinking skills. For us it’s more than just teaching your dog SIT or DOWN when they feel the pressure/stimulation. It’s a passion to keep your dog’s personality while maturing them emotionally and mentally. When this happens a lot of poor behaviors go away and new preferred ones appear.
We do not solely rely on the e-collar for these results. The e-collar is merely one of our more widely used tools for obedience and behavior work. We always pair the e-collar with other tools and teach dogs to be versatile and fluent in all the tools.
Here at Sit Happens we do not slap on a tool and start pressing buttons or layering on the pressure. We start training for the e-collar and other tools long before we ever pull them out to be fitted or used. We rely heavily on a dog’s drive and engagement.
The foundation of our training is based on building a relationship and clear communication. From day one, your dog will work for their food and learn about spatial pressure and how to give and not press into it.
Sometimes food is not what gives a dog drive, in which case we will try other means: toys, affection etc. Your dog chooses what is rewarding and we honor that
about them. Once we get good drive built up and a basic understanding of response to pressure, then we can add skills followed by tools.
Skills being anything from SIT, DOWN, STAY to LEAVE IT, COME, GET BACK, PLAY DEAD. Tools can be anything from a leash to an e-collar.
Once we introduce skills, we build your dog’s muscle memory through repetitions, pressure and rewards. With each repetition, your dog builds confidence and is more driven to try and learn. We make training something your dog longs to do.
Then we introduce new tools and layer them as your dog becomes fluent in each one. It would be ridiculous of us to put an e-collar on your dog and ask for a skill they have yet to develop. So, we give them a new stimulant (the e-collar sensation) followed by a command they know, and then a marker for the skill if they complete it and finally a reward. This is a scientific approach to teaching your dog with the e-collar. Timing, body language and patience are everything for this part of training.
By the time we finish our training process and developing maturity in your dog, you are ready to learn the tools and techniques (which is much easier for you than your dog) and ENJOY your dog like you’ve always wanted.
This is the Sit Happens way of e-collar training. We believe strongly in its success and safety when used correctly. For more e-collar information and demos, check out our youtube page .