Hey let's cut the bullshit. There are applications in which the E collar IS supposed to HURT. Look, I'm a balanced trainer, I think e-collars are one of the best training tools out there.
"Oh...So you like to hurt dogs??!!"
No asshole! I don't!
In the conditioning phase, they can be very low stress and will even increase confidence.
I'm not here to convince anyone to like or dislike a training tool, what I want is to inform people that we don't have to pretend the e-collar is something it's not.
There are different applications for the use of the e-collar:
TEACHING: Through the use of low and recognizable levels. This IS the Low to No-stress application. YES! you force-free fanatics, it can actually be quite a happy training session.
PROMPTING: Once the dog is conditioned to the e-collar through low-levels, meaning the dog understands this type of communication. The e-collar can be used as "tap on the shoulders" application. This is not typically your pet training use however, this is more of a technique used for sport training. These prompting levels are not low (barely recognizable) and they're not high ("ouch"), they're mid-range.
PROOFING: This is done once the dog fully understands the behavior expected out of it AND it has been properly conditioned to the e-collar language. This e-collar application takes the form of a correction you would give on a training collar, it's supposed to be uncomfortable, it's supposed to be used as Positive Punishment and Negative Reinforcement (at this point in the form of avoidance conditioning). This level is not mid-range, it's high, as in "Yeah that's uncomfortable"
UNCONDITIONED PUNISHMENT: Now we're talking about painful corrections. Yes I said it, in this application I want the dog to be incredibly uncomfortable. I want this dog to go "Oh my fucking God!".
"Dude, you're an asshole!"
No! well.... yeah I am, but not to dogs! Here's why I want the e-collar to be painful! I want an incredibly negative association to something that could put its life at risk or another animal's life at risk (Snake proofing, Poison proofing, Crittering).
And if you think it's still NOT WARRANTED, then who's the asshole now?
I know this "The-Ecollar-doesn't-hurt" is more of a marketing strategy, a way to "win people over". And frankly, I do see the point of doing so when talking to a client and explaining the conditioning process, which IS supposed to be low level. But I see youtube trainers preaching over and over that the e-collar is always "subtle", "just a tap", "Low-level training" over and over, yet I have seen these very same trainers and the dogs they've worked with, that look seriously stressed the hell out for the sake of a youtube view. So which is it? are you gonna do your 5 minute magic as you blast the dog into compliance? or are you gonna regurgitate your "low level-subtle-stress free-just a tap" BS? Because you can't really have them both.
Ultimately, I think Balanced trainers are just out on a mission to try to convince people that the e-collar feels just like a feather, and I kind of see their point. People are trying to get this tool banned so I get it. But don't take it to the extreme because it just makes the rest of us look like phonies. Be clear, be honest and transparent. If someone HATES the e-collar, let them hate it! I don't care! I gave up that fight a while ago. The best way I've found to get people on board with the e-collar is to tell them the advantages and disadvantages of its use; the low-level application AND the importance of the high level applications. This is the BEST way to get someone to think for themselves and choose for themselves.
And for you Purely Positive people, don't give me this quote anymore:
"To use shock as an effective dog training method you will need:A thorough understanding of canine behaviour.
A thorough understanding of learning theory.
And if you have those three things, you don't need a shock collar."
Dr. Ian Dunbar
God! this is like your gospel! You cannot show bias against a training tool UNLESS you're proficient in its use. It's just as ridiculous as when people say things like "Clicker training is just as stressful because you have to starve the dog" or "Treat training is bad because it doesn't address relationship and makes dog shallow"
FALSE! You wouldn't accept that from people who don't know how marker training works, that's why I wont accept bias against the e-collar from people who don't understand it or are not proficient in its use. I don't care who it is!
If you still think E-collars are abusive and shut dogs down, tell me why these dogs below look so happy.
If you have a dog and subscribe to the importance of interactive toys for the mental stimulation of your four-legged family member(s) or have to hide medication in cheese or peanut butter the following information may be of interest to you. For a long time, it’s been pretty commonplace for peanut butter or cheese to use in interactive toys and treats. However, there’s an ingredient that has slowly become more and more common in the production of consumption products that is toxic to dogs. I’m talking about Xylitol. If your dog consumes enough of it; it can kill your dog D.E.D dead.
So, what is Xylitol? In laymen’s terms it’s a sweetener used as a substitute for sugar. Technically speaking, it’s sugar-alcohol found in various vegetation. It’s been around for decades but wasn’t widely used until recently.
Why has it gotten to be so popular? It’s about as sweet as table sugar but at only 2/3 the calories. Which means this sugar substitute is lower on the glycemic index. In other words, it’s better for your blood sugar. This makes it more appealing to diabetics and anyone else on a low carbohydrate diet. The most common products Xylitol is used is in gum, candies, medications, sports supplements, toothpaste and peanut butter.
Is Xylitol safe? Well, it is for human consumption, however, it is extremely toxic for dogs. Even in small amounts xylitol is capable of causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure and death in dogs.
But why is it toxic to dogs? I’m going to give you a little bit of biology here… The level of blood sugar is regulated by the release of insulin from the pancreas. When dogs ingest something containing xylitol it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream which causes the pancreas to release excessive amounts of insulin. The sudden release of insulin causes the blood sugar levels to plummet resulting in hypoglycemia. Untreated you can expect death to occur within sixty minutes of initial ingestion of the Xylitol if a lethal quantity has been ingested. This begs the question; how much will it take to kill my dog? Hypoglycemia will be induced by a dose as small as about 50mg per pound of the dog or for all of you metric types, 100mg per kg. It goes without saying that the more ingested the greater the risk of organ damage and death. The most specific I can get regarding lethal doses are: 225 mg/lb or 500 mg/kg body weight.
If my dog eats something with xylitol, what should I do? Your best bet is to contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card however. Unless directed to do so by poison control or a veterinarian, do not induce vomiting or give anything orally. If your dog is already hypoglycemic from xylitol ingestion, vomiting can make it worse.
What does xylitol poisoning look like? You have to be observant because the signs and symptoms come on very quickly, usually within about fifteen minutes of ingestion.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning develop rapidly, usually within 15-30 minutes of consumption. Signs of hypoglycemia may include any or all of the following: Vomiting, Listlessness, Lack of coordination or difficulty walking or standing (kinda looks like alcohol inebriation), Lethargy, Tremors, and Coma. In acute cases, the dog may develop seizures or liver failure.
Is there an antidote for xylitol toxicity? No. There is no antidote for xylitol poisoning, although treatment with sugar supplementation, IV fluids, and liver protective drugs are beneficial.
If there is no antidote, how is xylitol poisoning treated? Fast and aggressive treatment by your veterinarian is essential to effectively reverse any toxic effects and prevent the development of severe problems. If your dog has just eaten xylitol but has not yet developed any clinical signs, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to prevent further absorption, depending on what your dog's blood glucose level is. If clinical signs have developed, treatment will be based on the symptoms that are being shown. Since xylitol toxicity can cause both low blood glucose and low potassium levels, your veterinarian will perform blood work to determine whether these problems need to be treated. In all cases, your dog will require hospitalization for blood sugar monitoring, dextrose administration, intravenous fluids, liver protectants, and any other supportive care that may be needed. Blood work should be monitored frequently to make sure that blood sugar and liver function remain normal.
What is the prognosis for recovery from xylitol poisoning? The prognosis is good for dogs that are treated before clinical signs develop, or for dogs that develop uncomplicated hypoglycemia that is quickly reversed. If liver failure or a bleeding disorder develops, the prognosis is generally poor. If the dog lapses into a coma, the prognosis is very poor.
How can I prevent this problem? The short of the long is avoid giving your dog anything with xylitol in it’s ingredients. According the AMVA the leading cause of xylitol poisoning is sugar free gum. Remember that dogs perceive the world with their nose. If there is chewed gum on the ground in the path of your morning walk with Fido, don’t let your dog investigate it. If you’re using peanut butter or cheese to reward your dog or to load their toys check the labels to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol. It’s that simple.
Jason Sigler is a dog training instructor and a PSA (Protection Sports Association) enthusiast. He's a certified Pet Tech Canine first Aid and CPR instructor as well as a certified Canine Training and Behavior Specialist.
Please check out his Facebook page Isoshikai Karate
Too Much Dog?The problem with many “problem dogs” is that they chose the wrong owner!
People often go to a dog trainer because of a problem behavior. The problem behavior is often the result of a dog that has too much drive and not enough to do. People need to be honest with themselves before selecting a dog. If you don’t exercise now, a dog isn’t magically going to give you the desire to “get your lazy butt off the couch” and start training for a marathon.
I have listed several dogs on the right hand side who at one time belonged to a rescue and had very uncertain futures due to them being just a bit more dog than the average person can handle. I believe that the rescues that owned them certainly felt overwhelmed by them. As mentioned in other parts of this website, I have a huge problem with rescues that want to be in the rescue business but don't want to truly learn about dogs. I don't care how many years that you have done rescue for, it doesn't mean that you know dogs unless you are actually out there interacting with them. The challenge cases are a gift in that they are the only ones that really teach us volumes. None of the dogs listed, I would consider extreme other than my Macy. I took Macy in, because she probably would have met an untimely end in short amount of time due to who she is.
At the same time, if you want to do Schutzhund or Mondio Ring don’t get a couch potato dog. I have seen people show up at a Schutzhund field with their German Shepherd wanting to do Schutzhund with a dog that was not food motivated and had the prey drive of an overcooked spaghetti noodle. Why make a dog miserable by trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. Don’t get a puppy! Get a dog that someone else didn’t want because it had too much drive for their lifestyle. You can often find these at the pound if you look hard enough. These dogs get themselves into trouble because their owners couldn’t handle them. Rescues rarely have these dogs, because the rescues just label these dogs as being unstable because they can’t handle them. I have seen numerous cases where the rescue considered putting a dog down for that reason. The dog went on to have a happy home because someone like me persuaded them to the contrary.
I said “pound” earlier because often rescues are smart enough to not take in dogs that are super charged Tasmanian Devils. The rescues realize that these dogs have no chance of being adopted by the typical fuzzy bunny slipper wearing crowd. Sport people most often don’t go to rescues to get a dog. Law Enforcement often wisely gets good scent dogs from the pound when they have someone knowledgeable enough to make good selections. I once knew a guy that ordered a multi-generation Schutzhund German Shepherd puppy from Europe. The dog eventually decided it was fun to run after children and bite their clothing whenever they ran. The gentleman’s wife insisted that he get rid of the “aggressive dog”. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?! In my eyes they got exactly what they ordered; a dog with a bit of drive. I often advise people to buy/adopt a dog that is a bit older (young adult), so that they can see what they are getting. The common excuses I hear from people why they don’t do this, is, “We want a puppy so that we can train it, just the way we want it.” I scream back, “Nonsense! How many dogs have you trained in the past? Were all of these dogs exactly the way you wanted?”. Hand me a dog that is 5 or 6 years old and I will train it. Puppies are for people with mountains of patience, and tons of time on their hands.
If you want a high drive dog, remember that drive isn’t something you can turn off like a light switch. It is energy that exists in this dog’s every waking moment. If you don’t release some of the bottled pressure that is this dog, he will become stressed, miserable and then do things to try to relieve that stress and that my friend will make you one miserable sob.
In recent times there have been numerous rescues that adopt out Pit Bulls. These rescues will preach positive training methods only because supposedly conventional training hurts and stresses dogs out. They also become horrified at the mere mention of using a tug in training or protection sports. They claim these things will make a dog aggressive. Little do they realize that not giving these dogs outlets for “what they are”, is extremely stressful to these high drive dogs. I am the proud of owner of a dog that is high drive and some would call a Pit mix. Wrestling and mock battle are what makes her happy. Tug games give her satisfaction that gives her soul peace. I once walked this dog for 15 miles in a 24 hour period. It didn’t even put a dent in her. She could have easily gone for another 15 miles. So, how many people are going to walk 30 miles a day to bleed off all that drive. Walking a high-drive dog is not exercise. This same dog, if I play some high paced tug games, is feeling tired after 20 minutes. She has had a good work-out that tests her strength, timing, reflexes, endurance and at the same time teaches her additional obedience and self control. Best of all it dramatically improves the bond with the owner. Walking does not give you any of these things. The rescues that don’t want to become educated in things like appropriate tug play really need to leave these “gladiator breeds” (horrible term but used for lack of a better word) alone. Understand what you are dealing with or quit. Most of them don’t have anything in their mission statement about putting dogs in homes where they will be miserable. So they need to stop discarding good owners that will challenge a dog with the things they love to do. Instead they cater to the crowd that wants to park the Ferrari in the garage and leave it there. Only thing is that we are talking about is a living, breathing thing and not a piece of metal. It feels stress and discomfort from a non-eventful life that is a void when it comes to outlets.
People with high drive dogs, without outlets for the dog often seek a trainer when the built up pressures have caused the dog to engage in negative or destructive behaviors. They might try a reward based trainer initially to discover that the methods are good for teaching the dog new competition style behaviors but they do little to fix the problem behaviors. Most of these folks in desperation then reluctantly seek out someone who is a bit more “old school”. The dog receives hard corrections for infractions and eventually gives it up for as long as someone keeps him in check. I don’t have a problem with corrections. Some dogs I will agree even need very firm corrections. I however have a huge problem with this approach being all that is needed. In my opinion the dog needs outlets to make a good percentage of that negative behavior evaporate. It is all about balance.
Get a dog that matches your lifestyle, personality and energy level. Don’t try to make your dog a sport dog if it isn’t in his genes. Provide your high drive dog with outlets that challenge him. If you belong to a rescue get on board with the program. High Drive Gladiator type breeds need non-politically correct games to make them happy. Accept this and stop making dogs miserable by placing them with the fuzzy bunny slipper crowd.
-- Daniel Audet
Dan runs www.balancedtrainers.com, a website and forum committed to maintaining transparency and integrity in the balanced dog training community.
Dear "No-Dogs-Should-Be-Put-Down" trainers,
I have noticed you often use this line to appeal to your target clients and also as a means to indirectly pat yourself on the back, but that's neither here nor there, you do you, I do me.
I would like to address a couple of things with the tag-line you so proudly preach however.
First of all, I want to stress that, to a degree, I agree with you. Many dogs do needlessly get put down. There are in fact many dogs that get put down for simple issues. I'm not a fan of that at all, I'm sure you agree.
We are plagued with incompetent trainers in this field, there are so many "certifications" and not enough quality control. This is how many "experts" are quick to jump to the euthanasia option. This is wrong, irresponsible, and just arrogant to assume that if they can't fix it, no one can. So yes, so far, you and I are on the same page!
Here's where I see the problem with the "No-Dogs-Should-Be-Put-Down" message: You really don't seem to consider the fact that the average pet owner is NOT a dog trainer or even has any aspirations to become one, so when you and your 5-minute Youtube training sessions manage to "relax the dog" (You and I know damn well what it is you're actually doing), you were able to do so because of the several dogs, and years you've racked under your belt. Your client doesn't have those years of experience, and some dogs take more than just a couple of techniques here and there to keep them from hurting something or someone.
These types of clients with this type of dog may in fact have to at least consider re-homing or worse.
Let me give you a hypothetical example:
Let's say Mrs. Jones and her husband, both inexperienced, decide to get a dog. They don't want to contribute to puppy mills, so they do the decent thing and go to a dog rescue organization. Let's assume the people running the shelter are mostly concerned with outgoing numbers than they are with proper matchmaking. Hell! let's assume they do want to properly match the dogs to the right owners but lack the experience to do so (both scenarios actually way too common in the rescue organizations).
Now you have the Jones' struggling, trying to figure out how to control this dog. So what do they do? they go to a dog trainer.
Ok, let's assume this first dog trainer was not very experienced and from their perspective, this dog needs to be re-homed or be put down.
The Jones' wont settle for that though, so they seek out a second opinion, maybe even a third opinion and now they start to see a pattern.
***Puffs chest, gives a shit eating grin*** "They just haven't found the RIGHT trainer." ***Raises eyebrows a couple of times***
Ok, great! you pop out of nowhere like a super hero standing with your cape and your 1000+ Youtube subscriber channel filled with quick fixes. You talk to the Jones and convince them that every trainer they have talked to aren't worthy of breathing the same air as you and give them the No-Dogs-Should-Be-Put-Down speech. Now you have the dog for 2 or 4 weeks. ["Psh...I only need 1 week!"]
I have NO doubt that you can control the dog. I'm actually giving you credit and admitting that with enough determination, you can actually work hard enough to protect your ego and thus get the dog to even get handled by your child. Now you can upload an edited video where you skip all the ass-kicking and blasting because you're mainly interested in the before and after. Now you can boast to your subscribers that 3 other trainers couldn't even accomplish a fraction of what you did in one or two days. Wonderful, right?
WRONG!!! you see, now the Jones will get the dog back, you'll be very detailed about how they should follow through, how things need to be from now on, etc. Plus, the dog is still...hmmm, what word do you use to mask "shut down", "inhibited" or "in a state of learned helplessness"? oh yeah! RELAXED.
Well, hang on! to your credit, the dog will probably be "relaxed" with the family for a day or two. Then, as the days or even weeks go by, the dog starts to revert back to its ways. Why wouldn't it? The Jones aren't dog trainers. Now they contact you and ask you for help but they have spent sooo much money in training that they are unable to afford another few weeks of training. Because YOU were successful with the dog, it can't possibly be your fault! Because NO-DOG-SHOULD-BE-PUT-DOWN, it can't possibly be the dog's fault, so guess who feels like shit now? That's right, the Jones!
There are dogs that are in the wrong home. The dog above, is Jaxx, my personal dog. I have no doubt that if this dog were with another family, it would keep going back to the shelter, or worse be put down. He's an amazing dog and I love him. He has issues but ultimately, he just needs the right home. With me, he's a happy dog, but I'm a dog trainer and I love this dog.
There are also dogs that are extremely difficult, dogs that, yes, a trainer could control. But what trainer wants a dog that you can't relax with? How many dog trainers are in that market? not many! Not many trainers are out there looking for these extremely difficult or aggressive dogs that require constant supervision just so that they don't make a terrible mistake. Again, I'm not talking about your average dog that's inappropriate or pulls a bit. I'm talking about the severe cases, which are actually out there, being paired up with inexperienced families. These dogs are a liability and a huge stress for their owners. No one is happy.
So why not be transparent and suggest re-homing? In the more severe cases, even worse.
Again, I'm no pro-euthanasia. Most dogs out there are just not properly matched. There are however some dogs that fall through the cracks that are quite dangerous. These dogs have no business being in an average pet person's home.
I make no apologies about suggesting euthanasia if the dog is dangerous, has proven to be dangerous and has an extreme history, specially if it's matched with the wrong family.