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Regarding a 100% reliable recall, I'd venture to say that many of us on this forum have trained 100% reliable recalls without the use of an e-collar. I don't want to get into a debate about e-collars--that dead horse has been beat way too many times here; I just wanted to point out that many of us on this forum have dogs with 100% reliable recalls and got them without an e-collar. So it is entirely possible to do so, FWIW. ;)

 

J.

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You can teach a reliable recall without an e collar. Do you really think you need one to teach a recall? If your dog ignores you because it is fixating on something else, it means you have not proofed his recall well enough to listen to you at that level of distraction. It means you need to take a step back and continue training his recall in a situation with less distraction. Dog owners and trainers teach really reliable recalls without e collars every day. The difference is that it takes more time than with an e collar and more knowledge. It means managing your dog on Leash in certain situations until his recall is fully proofed. My dog has a rock solid whiplash recall that I have diligently taught, and did so without a button in my hand. I always have my voice with me but I don't always have a remote in my hand. My dog is off leash all the time on our property and many other places so a recall was important. And yes I have free range chickens as well and have only lost one to our neighbors husky. I don't see it as anything special. The only thing that would have stopped her would have been a legitimate LGD.

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You can look up videos showing" recall games " to help you get a better idea of how most people teach a recall. An e collar is a quick fix but you should want your dog to come to you because he wants to and because you trained it not because he is afraid of a stim on an e collar.

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Mike,

I think the issue with the e-collar, even in the hands of an experienced user, is that border collies tend to generalize, or make leaps of understanding, if you will. So if you are correcting for one thing, and something else happens at the same time, a dog may learn that the *other thing* was the problem. I'm probably not explaining this very well. But say as Leonard goes into his real teenage time he starts to chase the chickens a bit and you use the collar to correct that. He may associate the correction with the chasing or he may associate it with going near the chickens at all, or, if something else is going on at that exact moment, say one of the kids comes running out the back door yelling at that moment, then he may associate *that* with the correction. Another example, if you use it to train him to stay off your firing range, there's no way to prevent him from learning that the sound of a gunshot results in a correction when what you want him to learn is not to dash onto the range when he hears a gunshot. This is where their extreme intelligence can cause problems. Even in the hands of an experienced and careful user, you can't control all the outside things that a border collie might "extrapolate" (sorry for the anthropomorphism) to. That's why many people who work their dogs on stock don't like the collars (aside from the potential for abuse)--what the dog interprets or learns from the shock might be completely unexpected.

 

And now, since I said I didn't want to discuss e-collars, I'll just leave it at that. I do think they have their place, but I would reserve their use for life-and-death situations (like car chasing that can't be trained away from by other means) and not for general training. But I did want to try to explain why people are saying that the dog won't always understand the correction. A better way to put it is that the learn something unintended from the correction.

 

J.

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Okay, honest question time. Frist, background:

 

The reason I started using it was that while he always wants to obey, sometimes he gets so intent on something that he doesn't. I tried a lead first, but as soon as I put the lead on he went nuts. He HATES leashes of any kind. I got him used to it, spent a lot of time with it on him letting him drag it around, etc., but he NEVER forgot it was on.

 

Example: Leonard comes whenever I call, but one day he got fixated on "herding" my Shih Tzuh, and that was the first time he disobeyed. He disobeyed my wife and kids also, same way.

 

So I started with the collar. A week later (a week of just putting it on and not using it), I used it, using the correction feature about 3 times. That was it. No yelping in pain, just "wtf!" and he looks up, sees me calling and comes. Now, two months later, I have never ever had to use it for that again. He ALWAYS comes when called, no matter what he is doing. He will come in the middle of chasing a frisbee! (without the frisbee!)

 

Now knowing this...do you think the collar was a mistake and that I should never use it again, because other people with other dogs and maybe other ways of using it got bad results? Honestly?

 

Honestly, I wasn't going to post on the e-collar issue at all. I generally just don't feel strongly enough one way or another to get in on the discussion when it arises, but with the background you've given I'm actually more inclined to lean to the opposition's side. Not because others have had negative outcomes, but because I've had experience with the same behavior and just find the leap you made to be unnecessary. My BC pup used to do the same thing. Consistency and a long lead solved the problem. Yes, even though he knew the difference between when he was wearing it and when he wasn't. Because it's not a willful blow off, it's a young dog being more interested in something else. Allowing the dog time to mature a little while consistently reinforcing the command definitely takes more effort than three zaps of an e-collar, but it doesn't carry the same potential for misunderstanding on the dog's part.

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And what do you do when the dog figures out the difference between being on a lead and not being on a lead and gets fixated on something and ignores you when you say “come here”?

 

Well, I've had the good fortune to be able to work my dogs on sheep. My dogs are rarely on a lead and I can control them from a great distance with a whistle. My dogs would do anything I wanted them to do so they can work. They are more than just a pet, they are a partner and I don't shock my partner and break his trust in me by doing something to him he can't understand. I teach him by using methods that make sense to him.

You may have worked with dogs, but you obviously haven't worked with a working Border Collie or you wouldn't need to ask me such a question.

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Ok, fair enough.

 

How would you train your dog not to chase quads without an e-collar?

I know you didn't ask me, but I thought I'd answer anyway. I raise pups from the start to understand a correction word (or words). Once they understand a correction, then I can transfer it to many other training issues. If "Aht!" or "Hey!" means "Don't do that" and has been used consistently to mean that from the day the pup entered the household, then when the dog starts a behavior I don't want, I can interrupt it with the correction word. My backup to that is body pressure, that is, I can use my presence to increase the pressure (correction) on the dog if it doesn't respond to the voice correction. I have used this successfully to teach my dogs to run along with me while I'm biking, and if I ever own a horse again, I'll use it to teach them to leave the horse alone while I ride.

 

Same with the recall. If I call, and the pup is so interested in something else that it ignores me, it gets a verbal correction, which will get its attention. Once I have its attention, I recall again. For a particularly distracted or incorrigible pup, I'd use a long line. I use parachute cord, so the dog hardly knows it's there. In that case, I'd still use the correction, then I'd reel the dog in while issuing the recall. You could argue that the e-collar is performing the same function as my correction, but the difference is that the pup knows the correction is coming from me, which I want because I'm trying to develop a partnership where we communicate directly with one another. It's a process; understanding corrections will later make training on stock easier, where a turned on youngster is most likely to blow you off in the excitement of OMG! work! sheep!

 

J.

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I think this is one of those training philosophy things that we're just going to disagree on. At one point you mentioned the tingle seeming to come out of nowhere, which would suggest that he doesn't really know it's coming from you. He knows that if he disobeys he gets a tingle, but as I explained in an earlier post (and at least one other person has mentioned as well), the dog can also extrapolate that to other events that occur at the same time as the tingle (unless nothing ever occurs at the same time). I personally believe that it's easier for the dog to interpret the cause-effect if the effect comes directly from me and not from out of nowhere. Border collies are scary smart, as you've probably found out with Leonard, but with that smartness comes unexpected interpretations of the things you're trying to teach them, so just keep that in mind as you're training.

 

As I also noted, and this probably wouldn't apply to Leonard, I am creating a direct communication with the dog that will come in handy when I start it on stock. Because I would not use a shock collar for stock work (because it's the fastest way to completely turn off a dog forever), it doesn't make sense for me to use it for other training issues, because all training I do up to introduction to stock is geared toward that relationship (the "dance") we will have on stock. Part of that has to do with a communication that includes "don't do that" but doesn't also require that behavior X occur in response to the "don't do that." In other words, if the youngster is slicing in and maybe trying to grab some wool, I want my communication to him to be "don't do that" but there is no set response to that correction. The dog needs to figure out what's right. So it's definitely more nuanced than something like a recall, where's there's just one answer. I don't know if I'm being clear, but this is what I'm talking about when I mention communication and its relation to stockwork.

 

J.

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Ok, fair enough.

 

How would you train your dog not to chase quads without an e-collar?

 

It sounds like Julie and I use very similar approaches. "Ahht!" is my correction of choice because it seems most effective across the board; stock, dogs, even the kids (lol!) seem to naturally respond to it.

 

I've never had to train a BC off chasing vehicles of any kind, but if I did have one I would start with consistent correction and redirection and escalate as necessary. My problem with e-collars in this situation is that they are not scalable without quickly moving from annoyance to pain, whereas if you're training the verbal and pressure corrections you can scale them up quite a bit before you get to a scary or painful situation for the dog. Verbal and pressure also allow you to apply the appropriate amount of correction for the individual infraction, which means you can react more or less in the very instant depending on how the dog is responding. Because the e-collars are set to a certain static level of correction all you have control over in the instant is the duration of that correction which, imntbho, really limits your training toolbox. And not just because you can't lower the correction either, lest you think I'm just a bleeding heart. You also can't as easily escalate the correction which means if he SHOULD decide to willfully blow you off you could find yourself in a real pickle and him in a very dangerous situation.

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"In an instant" is the key part of what I posted. I don't care how fast your fingers work the correction changes are not instantaneous the way your verbal and pressure corrections can be and even if your particular collars has 800 settings the individual steps on the adjustments will never ever be able to compete with the teeny tiny steps up and down you can achieve using your person. Dogs and especially BCs are highly attuned to tone and body language. When you resort to the e-collar for everyday training you're interrupting the communication between yourself and the dog, bypassing the built in mechanism that allows you to build the working relationship. If you just want a dog who responds appropriately to a canned set of commands the e-collar can certainly help you accomplish that. If you're looking for a dog that can read and communicate with you to accomplish a day's work even when new situations arise the e-collar is a tool that should be reserved for extreme cases where every other option has been exhausted.

 

ETA: I have never needed to use a remote e-collar on one of my own dogs. Many years ago I did have experience with someone else's dog who was on an e-collar as a youngster.

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Okay, honest question time. Frist, background:

 

The reason I started using it was that while he always wants to obey, sometimes he gets so intent on something that he doesn't. I tried a lead first, but as soon as I put the lead on he went nuts. He HATES leashes of any kind. I got him used to it, spent a lot of time with it on him letting him drag it around, etc., but he NEVER forgot it was on.

 

Example: Leonard comes whenever I call, but one day he got fixated on "herding" my Shih Tzuh, and that was the first time he disobeyed. He disobeyed my wife and kids also, same way.

 

So I started with the collar. A week later (a week of just putting it on and not using it), I used it, using the correction feature about 3 times. That was it. No yelping in pain, just "wtf!" and he looks up, sees me calling and comes. Now, two months later, I have never ever had to use it for that again. He ALWAYS comes when called, no matter what he is doing. He will come in the middle of chasing a frisbee! (without the frisbee!)

 

Now knowing this...do you think the collar was a mistake and that I should never use it again, because other people with other dogs and maybe other ways of using it got bad results? Honestly?

 

 

I can't tell you by your description that the collar WAS a mistake. If the picture you paint is a 100% accurate one, then it sounds like you were lucky and your dog had no fallout. But I will ask you to be 100% with yourself. Does he always come with joy and happiness to be with you? If you call his name does he whip around to see what you want? Do you see any ducking, cringing, wincing etc related to your recall? If he experienced discomfort when the collar went off what do you think he associates with a recall?

 

And what happens when he decides something is ore interesting than a recall 3 months from now. Will you get it out again? What if the "tingle" stops working? Are you willing to turn it up?

 

What happens when the correction comes when he sees a man in a hat walking on your property? Maybe then he will decide that men with hats are bad and cause him pain (yeah yeah, I know, its just a "tingle" but if its enough to change his behavior its causing him discomfort).

 

At 7 months old he is a PUPPY, and its normal and natural for him to make bad choices. As his loving owner (and its clear you love your dog very much) its your job to teach him what to do. Not throw a punishment at him when he does the wrong thing, but show him what you want and how it makes you happy when he does it right.

 

Did you read the study I posted a few pages ago?

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There is only question left worth asking here...have you guys used e-collars yourselves? (not on yourselves, just have you used them to train dogs)

 

Yes, once, 20 years ago and it was a bad mistake. My dog decided she was afraid of the backyard. She did not associate the zap (and it wasn't a super painful zap) with the leaving the yard, she associated it with being in the yard and refused to go down the back steps for days.

 

Back then, I felt I had to *make* my dog behave because I said so, without really spending the time to show her why, or develop the kind of relationship that I should have had with her. I was mad that she ignored me when I sent her outside to my fenced yard and tended to follow critters away. I wanted to "fix" that. There were so many things I could have done to show her that staying in the yard and coming to me would be better and more rewarding. Instead I zapped her in frustration.

 

It makes me sad to think of it to this day. Life with Lacey could have been happier and more cooperative than it was. We never had the kind of relationship I have with the dogs I own now. That is a loss for me.

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There is only question left worth asking here...have you guys used e-collars yourselves? (not on yourselves, just have you used them to train dogs)

No. As I stated earlier I haven't felt the need to use one and I feel that it could be counterproductive to my overall training program/philosophy. Any comments I have made regarding e-collars comes from observation of working dogs on which they've been used and the experiences of others. I believe they can be used safely, but I honestly don't see the need for one, except perhaps for life and death situations, as I've said before.

 

I'm not sure what the point of the question is, unless your next step will be to say "If you haven't used one then you have no idea about how they work or how they affect a dog." That's an argument that's been used regularly in these discussions. But please remember that many of us have had border collies, and multiples thereof, for many years, so we're speaking from a standpoint of experience with this breed and how they react (in general) to different training methods.

 

Have you tried physical (your body, not a collar, leash. etc.) and verbal pressure and release? Quite a few people here have explained how they've had great success with that method. I manage a pack of nine using my non-e-collar training methods; they all listen, they all have excellent recalls (I can call them off running deer and squirrels we spring in the woods or other from visiting other dogs at sheepdog trials or from the livestock they live to work, among other things).

 

J.

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There is only question left worth asking here...have you guys used e-collars yourselves? (not on yourselves, just have you used them to train dogs)

 

 

I have not. I will not. But I've seen it done.

 

What I saw were dogs who began to cringe and wince from even plain verbal corrections. I saw dogs that came when they were called, but did so without joy. I saw dogs that worked sheep like robots, never having an independent thought, because if they were wrong - they knew they were gonna get shocked. (And if they DID make a mistake, it was apt to be a huge, panicky one because they were afraid to think calmly and so mishaps turned into explosions.)

 

I don't like seeing dogs that wince or cringe from their handler's commands. I don't like seeing dogs who move as if they are made of glass, for fear they'll set that collar off.

 

Maybe you haven't seen that in your dog, yet. But for a 7 month old puppy, I call an electric collar laziness. There is nothing you're doing with that electric collar that I can't do with my voice and physical presence - and I'm 5'5" and 130 pounds. Godzilla I am not.

 

What are you going to do when he's 2 years old, and his impulses are stronger and faster? Will you dial that collar up until it inflicts pain?

 

~ Gloria

P.S.

Glad to hear you're no longer allowing him out when you shoot. I hope you're also doing the same with augers and other machinery.

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Why would it stop working? He loves me and wants to obey. What will you do when you go "Ahht!" or "No!" and your dog goes, "Yeah whatever." What, you say it won't happen? Right back at ya!

 

 

Actually, I don't do that. After months of carefully rewarded recalls and lots of off leash time in safe areas first on a light long line, then completely off leash, with gradual increased distractions, then if I call and he ignores me I will walk him down. I wouldn't expect that to happen until he was a few months older. So if I have to walk him down he will know he made the wrong choice and the consequence of that choice. There's no anger or pain involved, only uncomfortable pressure and stress. I usually only have to do it once. And as Julie says, he knows its pressure and consequence from me.

 

 

Look, I'm a BC n00b and I admit that. But I'm not a dog n00b, and whatever else a BC is, it's a dog. It even goes woof and stuff. :)/>/>/>

 

Yeah, you keep going back to that. I don't think anyone has said otherwise. However, based on your posts in this thread you have made some questionable choices with your puppy. These include the e collar. You got advise, you can take it or leave it.

 

You have made up your mind and you will do what you choose because you are sure you are right. You are invested enough you are not willing to consider what others are telling you about it. I can only ask you look at the material provided and think about it. You have a lovely dog.

 

shrug.gif

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Well I could have predicted that.

 

Mike,

This will be my last word on this subject since the horse ain't gonna get any deader and this conversation has gone, as predicted, the same way as all similar ones that have come before. Only you will know down the road if you've scarred your dog or not. Whether to use such a collar is your choice, and I simply hope that you're not the sort to get mad and then get even when using such a collar. You seem to be interpreting everything that's being said about e-collars as the people on this forum collectively asserting that e-collars are cruel. I'd like to point out that I have only said I think they are unnecessary. There's a big difference there. You seem to be getting defensive because you're hearing what you have already expected people to say (that it's cruel) and so are closing your mind to some of the real concerns being aired.

 

Yes a border collie is a dog. But a border collie isn't a lab or any other breed where e-collars are typically used for training. I am not even trying to talk you out of using one. I just hope you've recognized well-intentioned advice and take to heart our understanding that border collies are more sensitive than the average lab and don't respond to training tools in the same way as other breeds. If you're aware of the fact that tools like an e-collar can have unintended consequences when a dog like a border collie makes an unexpected connection between your correction and some event/situation other than the one you're correcting for, then maybe that awareness will help you prevent such unintended interpretations (on the dog's part) from happening. If you want to close your ears to that advice, that's your choice.

 

Good luck with Leonard, and I hope you have a long happy life together.

 

J.

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