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Should I use the ecollar?

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I have a 8 month old mini goldendoodle. She knows all of her commands very well but only wants to do them for treats. I wanted to start layering in low level ecollar training to reinforce the commands. I also want to train her to have a good recall and to hold heal off leash. Is this a good idea? I tried it with a trainer when she was 6 months old but she seemed sensitive to the ecollar so I stopped after the first session. I am have a Eisenstein Mini Educator 300.
 

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Hi! Welcome to the forum!

This is a primarily force free/positive reinforcement forum and as such members aren't actually allowed to recommend e-collars and other compulsion tools. What we can offer is help and tips for solidifying and furthering your training as you want via the use of rewards. :)

You have multiple options available such as:

- nonfood reinforcment:
play with or without toys, praise, petting, and environmental/real life rewards such as sniffing, digging, getting to greet a dog or person, etc.

- Variable schedule of reinforcement:
Sometimes reward with food and sometimes don't (might offer a nonfood reward instead). Think of a slot machine. People continue to take the chance a pull the lever because the next time might be a winner. Same principle applies in training animals!;)

-chaining or backchaining:
Would likely be the most useful if headed towards sports, but can be useful for companions/pets too. Chaining and backchaining links multiple behaviors together in a string and the handler rewards at the end of a successful performance.

If any of the above interests you please feel free to ask questions. You also have other options as well, but the above would be the most common. I will be happy to give more info and ideas as to how to apply these concepts to your training. Others here, I am sure, will be happy to do the same!
 

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Being a Golden Doodle she is from two quite sensitive breeds so I definitely would not use an e-collar. Have you taken her to any dog training classes? At 8 months she is still young. You can start to gradually phase out the treats, getting her to do something like sit, give her a treat, next time get her to do it twice before treating, etc. so she never knows if she is getting a treat or not or switch to a toy or something else she loves doing.
 

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The fact that you found a trainer that was willing to put a shock collar on a 6 month old puppy is crazy. No, I don't believe you should put a shock collar on your 8 month old. I believe you should continue to work on reinforcing the behaviors and build them up around distraction.

I also strongly recommend you find a new trainer.
 

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The fact that you found a trainer that was willing to put a shock collar on a 6 month old puppy is crazy. No, I don't believe you should put a shock collar on your 8 month old. I believe you should continue to work on reinforcing the behaviors and build them up around distraction.

I also strongly recommend you find a new trainer.
Agreed, use the Ecollar on the trainer!
 

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Your dog is still a puppy and around the age when they are the most problematic. They discover their hormones (unless they are already altered), are almost their adult size, and they are energetic but still puppies inside.

E-collar is a bad idea. Your dog may associate the zap with something you did not intent to. If your dog fails a command the task has been too difficult or there are too many distractions. Patience is a better tool.

When you say 'wants to obey only for treats', do you mean that the dog only listens if you show a treat before asking a behavior or make known you have some on you? If the latter, I am sometimes confused why it is so terrible to carry rewards around for some people but no such concern is presented about putting a punisher on a dog for its entire life? I have never heard 'after a while you have to wean your dog from this type of collar/device and switch to normal gear' when someone mentions ie. choke chains.

kmes mostly said what I would suggest. Variation in rewards and reinforcing schedule. Environmental rewards can also be used. I reinforced a young dog who pulls on leash by letting her sniff for loose leash.

Work on distractions and focus too, if the problem is that the environment is more interesting than you without treats. Start on low distractions and build up from there. Do not expect that if the dog knows a behavior at home she would blindly obey the command at a busy park.

You may have accidentally taught that the treat present is part of the cue. I use lures in my training and one thing I do with puppies and cats is that after the first stage of luring I only scent my lure hand or pretend that there is something, lure normally, and then reward with the other hand. I may even do this when there is still a lure treat in the lure hand. Then, after or during turning the lure into a hand cue it is easier to build distance or time between the trick and the reward.

Surprise your dog! Carry treats your dog is not aware of and suddenly ask a behavior. Likely something easy and under no/low distraction. If the dog does what you want, yippee, suddenly there is a surprise reward. When I started training my dogs the line at the day was that the dog should never know when it will be rewarded. A permutation of varying reinforcement schedule, I think.
 

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We use e-collars (Educator Pro PE 900) on our German shepherd and Malinois, but I didn't use the e collar on our Mal for obedience work until she was 18 months old, prior to that, everything was done via motivational methods. Our German shepherd was a rescue at 14 months old, we spent a year building his foundation with marker/clicker training, and didn't start e collar work on him until he was close to 2.5 years old.

9 months to me is still a puppy, my expectations are pretty low for that age, I am more concerned about the dog doing everything with enthusiasm than doing everything perfectly/correctly. Teach her all the basics, take her to different places and work on them, help her generalize her commands, build her focus and engagement, as she matures, she will piece all these building blocks and pleasantly surprise you one day, mines certainly did =)

So no, I don't think it is a good idea at this point.
 

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There is no reason to use an e-collar to reinforce commands. If your dog doesn't "obey" something you want him to do, its because the dog just doesn't understand what you're telling him. Go back to the basics of training, does he understand it with certain distractions, distance, and duration? Does he understand it in every different kind of place? Were there enough repetitions to make it solid?

Dogs will learn better using positive reinforcement methods. They become more interested, curious, and have fun learning while they try things. A dog who is "trained" using punishment is a dog who is afraid and will "obey" out of feeling shut down. Using an e-collar is, I put this gently, but honestly, an excuse for poor training in the first place.

:)
 

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Let me give you a scenario to think about:

Imagine you're with a friend and he asks you to perform some task in the room, but doesn't give you any clues to what it is. You have to move around the room until your friend gives you feedback for each step. (Your friend wants you to walk to the other side of the room, shut a door, and turn on a light) Every time you get a step forward to completing the task, (stepping in the right direction, touching the door, moving the door, closing it, looking at the light,.. etc, your friend throws you a piece of chocolate, until you've completed all the steps, then you get to go to the movies when you're done. You're probably going to have a lot of fun, right?! You get to try things and there's no consequence! Its really a fun game. A little more complicated than the "hot cold" game kids play.

Okay, now let's look at this situation in another light.

Your friend wants you to do the same thing, except this time, whenever you do something wrong, you get a massive electric shock through your body which is painful. But when you complete the entire task, you'll get a piece of chocolate. Oops! You stepped in the wrong direction, ZAP, oops, you moved the door wrong, ZAP!... eventually, you're not going to want to move, try anything, or even complete the training to get the chocolate. You may even start to really dislike your friend, who you thought you could trust. You'll become scared and shut down.

Now take this into your dogs eyes.

You ask your dog to "Sit" and he doesn't sit. So you use the e-collar on him. Eventually your dog will think that "sit" means, "OH NO, my owner just said the word that means i'm going to get zapped!"
 

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At 8 months old, it's very unlikely that she has enough experience with all of her commands in various scenarios as to know them cold and just be ignoring them. It's far more likely that she still needs more teaching, in different environments, under different levels of distraction, etc- a dog that knows "sit" at home doesn't necessarily know "sit" at the pet store, or in the park if they've never been taught it there. Additionally, if she only ever gets a reward when treats are present, she will in turn be likely to only comply when treats are present. By switching to a variable schedule of rewarding, with treats/other reward that is not readily apparent until she does the requested behavior, you can remedy that since she'll learn that a reward could come at any time!

The fact that the trainer used an e collar on such a young puppy, and that they used it in such a manner as to make her appear "sensitive" to the corrections makes me think that you shouldn't use an e collar for her, and particularly not with that trainer. I'm sure there are people who use e collars for younger pups, but they are the minority, and likely not using it as a traditional aversive, use on a puppy isn't common even among e collar trainers. Additionally, for most dogs and most scenarios, the "working level" for a dog when using an e collar will be one that causes minimal visible reaction from the dog, so if she was appearing "sensitive", in pain, or fearful, that would signal to me that it was possibly being misused (again :( ). For your puppy's sake, I would avoid this trainer in the future. It sounds like she might do well with marker/clicker training, and it might be worth your while to find someone who teaches with that method to help solidify the commands she's familiar with.

Your friend wants you to do the same thing, except this time, whenever you do something wrong, you get a massive electric shock through your body which is painful. But when you complete the entire task, you'll get a piece of chocolate. Oops! You stepped in the wrong direction, ZAP, oops, you moved the door wrong, ZAP!... eventually, you're not going to want to move, try anything, or even complete the training to get the chocolate. You may even start to really dislike your friend, who you thought you could trust. You'll become scared and shut down.

Now take this into your dogs eyes.

You ask your dog to "Sit" and he doesn't sit. So you use the e-collar on him. Eventually your dog will think that "sit" means, "OH NO, my owner just said the word that means i'm going to get zapped!"
Just for the sake of not letting someone get the wrong idea and try this at home (not sure why you would want to, but some people will try anything), felt the need to mention that e collar trainers don't typically use them like this. They are usually used as a corrective device for "proofing" commands which are known, so there is no zapping til they get it right. Also, high level shocks, which IME are unpleasant- but not painful for your whole body- are typically only used for aversion training to snakes, deer running, and the like, which pose a significant danger to the dog. The large window for error (and why e collars have such huge potential to mess a dog up) is that people may think a dog knows a given command, but haven't adequately taught it, or their timing is so off when issuing a correction that they inadvertently correct for something other than what they intended. That they are available on store shelves (and usually low end models which aren't as readily adjustable) for anyone to pick up and subject their dog to boggles my mind, but these days I feel the same about many other tools as well (I cringe every time I see a screaming, reactive dog lunging on a prong collar).

IMO the best thing about force free training is that there is minimal danger in doing it wrong. If you accidentally click and treat your dog for something, the worst that will likely happen is that they will repeat the behavior several times trying to elicit the reward again before giving up if it's not happening. If you accidentally shock or leash correct your dog, depending on the dog, they may be reluctant to do whatever they were doing or approach whatever they were approaching for a long time, and potentially melt down if they can't avoid the situation.
 

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Mention the term ecollar and people lose their minds - it's not all about shock.

Ecollars can come in different forms - vibration only, citronella spray, beep etc. I can't see how that's adverse or harmful to a dog in certain circumstances and properly used.

A friend had 2 dogs that barked constantly, tried everything, brought in positive trainers - wouldn't even consider an ecollar as he thought it was cruel. Ended up having both dogs vocal cords surgically adjusted instead - which avenue was more adverse?

There is a time and a place.
 

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Your puppy is still going through fear periods. An electric shock (or even something mild that your puppy is still sensitive to at this phase in its development) could leave a bad impression that takes years to erase. Just don't do it.

ETA: Especially for reinforcing commands. Holy crap. Is there any harm in simply training with treats?
 

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Your puppy is still going through fear periods. An electric shock (or even something mild that your puppy is still sensitive to at this phase in its development) could leave a bad impression that takes years to erase. Just don't do it.

ETA: Especially for reinforcing commands. Holy crap. Is there any harm in simply training with treats?
I didn't see in any mention at all about training/ or not training with treats.

I train with treats, lots--whenever my dog is in the mood for treats. Toys--we're working on that.

but I also use an e-collar--they not mutually exclusive, quite the opposite for some dogs.

Sonic lost ALL interest in treats on forest walks (on a long line at the time) until I added the e-collar, now he's slows up and heels for treats in the woods, sits & downs for treats, and makes a game of running back to me at 100 joyful miles per hour (sometimes for treats, sometimes because running is fun & chasing wildlife is no longer an option).

I would consider never letting my young lively dog run off leash to be harmful.

I would consider letting my young lively dog chase deer, coyotes, and whatever else excites him beyond belief to be harmful.

The op seems to be gone, appropriately enough as this is not the forum to get answers to the question as the only answer allowed is no.
My answer to the op is probably 'no' too, but I know nothing about the dog or situation.
@busannie explained things very well, and for those reasons, I'm going with 'no'.
 
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The op seems to be gone, appropriately enough as this is not the forum to get answers to the question as the only answer allowed is no.
Need to comment on this, cause Art, you're 100% correct.

There seems to be this "our way or the highway" sense on different internet forums. These forums are about the dogs - not us. There's many members on here that have some good ideas - that are not forceful or adverse to the dog but it seems unless it suits this cookie cutter advice, then it doesn't fit in.

I hope the OP doesn't end up in another venue - get bad advice - and end up screwing up the dog. That's not what these forums are supposed to be about.

Take every chance to educate - and recommend.
 

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I didn't see in any mention at all about training/ or not training with treats.

I train with treats, lots--whenever my dog is in the mood for treats. Toys--we're working on that.

but I also use an e-collar--they not mutually exclusive, quite the opposite for some dogs.

Sonic lost ALL interest in treats on forest walks (on a long line at the time) until I added the e-collar, now he's slows up and heels for treats in the woods, sits & downs for treats, and makes a game of running back to me at 100 joyful miles per hour (sometimes for treats, sometimes because running is fun & chasing wildlife is no longer an option).

I would consider never letting my young lively dog run off leash to be harmful.

I would consider letting my young lively dog chase deer, coyotes, and whatever else excites him beyond belief to be harmful.

The op seems to be gone, appropriately enough as this is not the forum to get answers to the question as the only answer allowed is no.
My answer to the op is probably 'no' too, but I know nothing about the dog or situation.
@busannie explained things very well, and for those reasons, I'm going with 'no'.
I really value something called the LIMA principle: Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive. This is an acronym created by the APDT as standards for professional dog trainers. It stipulates that if all positive methods don't work, you move to the next least aversive thing. If that doesn't work, you move to the NEXT least aversive thing. After everything else fails, you might wind up at the "shock collar" stage. If it saves a dog's life, maybe that's the answer.

But when people come at me with stuff like "well I want my dog to sit better" or "I can't have my dog off-leash any other way" I think they should take the time they would need to put into learning "proper" e-collar use and use it to brush up on their obedience skills.

Because consider this:

-Shock collars are not standard in competition obedience or agility circuits-- if anything, it's clickers. MANY (probably most) people succeed in taking their dogs to championship levels of obedience, without leaning on e-collars.

-Many animal shelters espouse all positive methods for training and adjusting the behavior of dogs that are all over the board as far as manners and aggression go.

-There are not one but TWO off-leash professional dog walkers on this forum who walk gangs of dogs ranging from 1-6+, off-leash, without having to rely on e-collars. In fact, I think that most off-leash dog walkers couldn't afford to use e-collars if they wanted to! It's not a happy coincidence that our clients of various ages, breeds, and drives stay within our sights and come running when called. All it takes is a sandwich-bag of hot dog, some research, and practice. Forgive me if I doubt that your dog is the exception.
 

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I really value something called the LIMA principle: Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive. This is an acronym created by the APDT as standards for professional dog trainers. It stipulates that if all positive methods don't work, you move to the next least aversive thing. If that doesn't work, you move to the NEXT least aversive thing. After everything else fails, you might wind up at the "shock collar" stage. If it saves a dog's life, maybe that's the answer.

But when people come at me with stuff like "well I want my dog to sit better" or "I can't have my dog off-leash any other way" I think they should take the time they would need to put into learning "proper" e-collar use and use it to brush up on their obedience skills.

Because consider this:

-Shock collars are not standard in competition obedience or agility circuits-- if anything, it's clickers. MANY (probably most) people succeed in taking their dogs to championship levels of obedience, without leaning on e-collars.

-Many animal shelters espouse all positive methods for training and adjusting the behavior of dogs that are all over the board as far as manners and aggression go.

-There are not one but TWO off-leash professional dog walkers on this forum who walk gangs of dogs ranging from 1-6+, off-leash, without having to rely on e-collars. In fact, I think that most off-leash dog walkers couldn't afford to use e-collars if they wanted to! It's not a happy coincidence that our clients of various ages, breeds, and drives stay within our sights and come running when called. All it takes is a sandwich-bag of hot dog, some research, and practice. Forgive me if I doubt that your dog is the exception.

LIMA, yes, I agree with that completely. I haven't heard it discussed on this forum, and it would indeed be against the rules if it included recommending aversives, so LIMA is also out.

Meh, will otherwise not engage...play bowing and moving on by.
 

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There seems to be this "our way or the highway" sense on different internet forums. These forums are about the dogs - not us. There's many members on here that have some good ideas - that are not forceful or adverse to the dog but it seems unless it suits this cookie cutter advice, then it doesn't fit in./QUOTE]

This is a positive reinforcement forum, there is absolutely no reason why we should embrace the idea of causing our dogs pain and discomfort in the name of training. This forum is "our way or the highway" because this forum, at the core, is pro positive reinforcement and against aversive tools and techniques, it is even *against the rules to recommend them*. I don't get why people come here, to a **positive reinforcement forum**, and complain that we don't like the use of shock collars. If you want to recommend aversive methods, perhaps this isn't the forum for you.
 

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There seems to be this "our way or the highway" sense on different internet forums. These forums are about the dogs - not us. There's many members on here that have some good ideas - that are not forceful or adverse to the dog but it seems unless it suits this cookie cutter advice, then it doesn't fit in./QUOTE]

This is a positive reinforcement forum, there is absolutely no reason why we should embrace the idea of causing our dogs pain and discomfort in the name of training. This forum is "our way or the highway" because this forum, at the core, is pro positive reinforcement and against aversive tools and techniques, it is even *against the rules to recommend them*. I don't get why people come here, to a **positive reinforcement forum**, and complain that we don't like the use of shock collars. If you want to recommend aversive methods, perhaps this isn't the forum for you.
This. Try a forum for protection or hunting dogs. Although even there, you might have difficulty finding people who would recommend an ecollar or even a choke for use on a puppy.
 

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Fwiw, to all (members on both ends) our forum rules allow the discussion of a large variety of methods including aversive methods but does not allow the recommendation of aversives as there are risks to such methods.
http://www.dogforum.com/dogforum-community-rules/dogforum-com-rules-1606/

So ''opinions on'' training methods, trainers, etc. type discussion threads are ok. But telling someone asking for advice to throw penny bags, use spray bottles, smack with a news paper, slap on a prong or e-collar, give leash pops, etc. is not. Frankly a great many of the typical training questions one sees on here (house training, jumping, mouthing, etc.) can normally be resolved with good management/supervision and some reward based training. The more extreme stuff (aggression, more extreme reactivity and anxiety, etc.) probably will require a qualified trainer or behaviorist.

If one is going to go the route of say... an e-collar... similarly an internet forum really isn't the best place for the average person to get advice. Rather they need to be seeking out a qualified trainer.


All that said, I'm going to close this thread as it is headed ot and the op is gone anyway.
 
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