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I am wondering whether you all have noticed an increase in their usage. I have seen displays set up at Petco and Petsmart recently, as well as videos/testimonials on Facebook that espouse their value in training.

I know a girl who does some training on the side, and I was at a class that she was giving to a 9 month old GSD- letting my dogs be used as socialization practice. Apparently the dog has started pacing when he goes to the dog park and is beginning to show aggression. The girl determined that he was acting this way out of anxiety, and then suggested an E collar to the owner that and said that should be used when displaying the unwanted behaviors (pacing, whining, trying to get away from sniffs). I interrupted with a study that I read in Applied Animal Behavior Science, which says using an E collar will sometimes cause dogs to associate their owners with stress- all the time. We got in a bit of an argument about it.

Have you seen people using these more often? What is the appeal? Everything I have seen published about them suggest that they don't actually work- at least not better than positive reinforcement.
 

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Yes I see a lot of people using them. I actually tried one with my boy. It shut him down and he didn't even seem to notice the stim. It did not help training at all.

Positive reinforcement training, on the other hand, has turned him into a different dog.
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I abhor anything that inflicts pain to dogs. I practically panic when our Vet has to do things to Samantha that hurt her, but those medical procedures are necessary. Not true when pain is used for training purposes, and it saddens me that these things are even available. Sorry for the rant, but I feel pretty strongly about this.
 

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especially with a dog showing nervous or anxious behaviour I would use positive punishment like the e-collar.
you don't make a dog more relaxed by adding more stress to an already stressed dog.
a stressed dog can't learn and it isn't safe that the dog will understand that exactly an unwanted behaviour caused the punishment, the dog could end up avoiding things, people or behaviour that was already wanted.
and I think that people shouldn't inflict pain to their family members, human or not.
 

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especially with a dog showing nervous or anxious behaviour I would use positive punishment like the e-collar.
I think you mean "not" use, right? :)

I mean some people say it works. Seems like lazy training, to me. Even when it works, you end up with a dog that's afraid to do anything at all because it's afraid of the shock. Why get a dog if you just want it to mentally and emotionally shut it down?

Would you put a shock collar on a misbehaving child, even if it worked? No.

But wow, the people who sell them really do sell them. Before I knew better I met with a trainer at Sit Means Sit, whose entire program is set around the use of the collar. They compare it to tapping someone's shoulder so you can get their attention. They really sell the idea that once you have a dog that responds to you consistently with the collar, you can give the dog freedom to roam and always come back to you. What a dream! I honestly can't imagine ever letting my dog off leash in any place other than a dog park. He gets distracted so easily.

Cesar Milan recommends them, too, which is probably why do many people like them now.
 

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I work in a pet supply and self washing store and I see e-collars almost daily. It's very common around here. A lot of people swear by them. A couple came in with a pair of Aussies and when they learned I had an Aussie puppy they told me to start using the e collar now or else she will end up reactive like theirs. I told them I would never use one and that I only train through PR and counter conditioning was a much better way of handling things.

They didn't really listen but oh well. I try. We also sell a lot of prong collars and I wince every time.
 
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I work in a pet supply and self washing store and I see e-collars almost daily. It's very common around here. A lot of people swear by them. A couple came in with a pair of Aussies and when they learned I had an Aussie puppy they told me to start using the e collar now or else she will end up reactive like theirs. I told them I would never use one and that I only train through PR and counter conditioning was a much better way of handling things.

They didn't really listen but oh well. I try. We also sell a lot of prong collars and I wince every time.
I sympathize with you. I don't think I could sell them, but I understand you need to work too. Wonder if we are close to each other.
 

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Oh wow, you must notice it too! I'm in north San Diego County. (Oceanside)

A lot of trainers require them for training classes, which sicken me. They haven't even met the dog and they suggest them. A while had a client come in with a very reactive Boston saying they had a new trainer that told them to get the plastic one, then they moved up to the metal a week later, and then they came back in saying the dog was both shut down and more reactive then ever. Now the dog was not predictable. So the trainer uses TWO prong collars.

I talked to them a long time about trying to find a +R trainer and some steps they could take with CC. They seemed so happy to learn of alternatives and asked if I was a trainer taking on clients. I told them I was not, and they seemed sad about that. I haven't seen them since and hope that they ditched their trainer like I told them to. I can say I don't like them, but if the client wants them I can't tell them they can't have it.
 
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I see a lot of them. I think people reach a certain level of frustration, and some trainer tells them it will magically solves all of their training issues. There was a 3 month old puppy in Heidi's class wearing a prong.

It is MUCH easier to slap a collar on, and see instant progress than to do the research, and invest the time to train using only positive reinforcement.

Both of my dogs are not great walkers in high excitement areas, but I wouldn't use one. I like the relationship I have with them and I don't want to compromise it but shocking or choking/pinching them.
 
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The girl determined that he was acting this way out of anxiety, and then suggested an E collar to the owner that and said that should be used when displaying the unwanted behaviors (pacing, whining, trying to get away from sniffs).
Wow that's so silly I'm glad you said something. Honestly that sounds like really dangerous advice, I think using an e collar would just make the situation worse.
I don't understand why people think E collars are good for fearful or aggressive dogs.
If you dog is scared or anxious how exactly is causing them pain going to help?
You can suppress their behaviors but you won't take away the fear or anxiety, it may even make it worse.
I think most people just see the "bad" behaviors being suppressed and feel that it worked. I wish more people were aware of the fallout of punishment and that there are alternatives.
 

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Rocky use to be super reactive to people and dogs when we went on walks. He would get so excited it was hard to control him. Everytime I took him to petco or PETsMART an employee would always recommend a prong or E collar. I got super tired of them telling me how he would listen to me better and it would fix his problem in days. I always just said no thinks. It took a lot of work and several months but he can now walk by people calmly with his attention on me. He is better with the dogs but we are still working on it. Lol

I know several people who use E collars and prong collars. One guy I know uses both at the same time. His dog is uncontrollable without those collars. Everyone I know swears by them and talks about how awesome they are. I can't stand them!
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Force-free e-collar workshop, yeah right Monks of Skete, compassionate e-collar training, sure......

edited out link because I didn't want to inadvertently promote this seminar.
 

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Oh wow, you must notice it too! I'm in north San Diego County. (Oceanside)

A lot of trainers require them for training classes, which sicken me. They haven't even met the dog and they suggest them. A while had a client come in with a very reactive Boston saying they had a new trainer that told them to get the plastic one, then they moved up to the metal a week later, and then they came back in saying the dog was both shut down and more reactive then ever. Now the dog was not predictable. So the trainer uses TWO prong collars.

I talked to them a long time about trying to find a +R trainer and some steps they could take with CC. They seemed so happy to learn of alternatives and asked if I was a trainer taking on clients. I told them I was not, and they seemed sad about that. I haven't seen them since and hope that they ditched their trainer like I told them to. I can say I don't like them, but if the client wants them I can't tell them they can't have it.
All you can do, is all you can do. It just not possible to change some minds, but I do sympathize with you. You must see some dogs that are not treated very well, which I just fail to understand. Dogs are such loyal and loving companions, and if that's not what you want, why even get one. We are not that close, we are in Eastern LA County.
 

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I almost took Trucker to a program that used them before I knew better (Columbia Dog Trainers | Maryland Dog Training). I also know a person who thinks that using a pinch collar on her reactive dog while biking is safe and provides positive reinforcement.

I am all about DCC now that I have done my research, I would never want to break my trust with my pup by using punishment.
 

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I never want to touch that garbage again...

I was looking at various trainers in my area for the future (I'm great at obedience training dogs on my own, but service work is a whole other mountain to climb that I don't want to screw up with). One trainer uses only electric collars to train their clients' dogs. It's disgusting... and they have such high ratings. Claiming the dogs "love" their collars. BS.
 

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Well, I think I've told this story before on here, but I credit an e-collar with fixing my Aussie's habit of chasing the neighbors' when they go past my back pasture fence on their way to their own horse barns. They come by on golf carts, 4-wheelers, and in their trucks, and Pete was dead set on chasing them. He could scoot under the bottom line of the pasture fence and not only chase, but get dangerously close to the front wheels of the trucks and even in front of them. My neighbors had to slam on breaks to keep from running him over.

I tried everything under the sun to get him to stop, including adding lower lines of fencing, etc. There was no stopping him once he saw them he was GONE! If I had hold of his collar when they passed, he'd squirm and whine and bark and fret like mad. I tried treats, but he doesn't really care about food much, especially when his entire focus is on the vehicle passing behind our pasture.

When Winston came along, I decided I had to stop Pete's chasing because Winston was starting to follow him out there, and I was terrified of him getting hit or the neighbors' dogs (who are often running along with these vehicles) going after him. Pete could take care of himself where the other dogs were concerned, but Winston was just a baby. So I finally broke down and ordered a Dog Widgets (I think it's called) e-collar. My neighbors had used one on their cattle dog to stop her from chasing my truck when I passed their house, and it was working. Their's was obviously stronger than mine as I heard her yelp and nearly go to her knees before hauling back to the porch one day when I was passing. The one I have has a vibrate setting and four other levels which are all the same intensity, just a different duration. There's a short pulse, a longer pulse, two short pulses, and two longer pulses. It came with three sets of prongs, one that was covered with rubber (the gentlest), a short metal set and a longer metal set. I put the rubber ones on Pete, worked on recalling him on a long training line with it, and within a few minutes he was coming to me very well. He never yelped, just acted annoyed. I always did the vibrate first, and if he ignored that I upped to the short pulse. He never needed more than that, and with the rubber prongs, I can say it felt less painful than some static electricity shocks I've gotten (I tried it out on my wrist).

Pete wore the collar whenever we went outside for the next week or so, and I never had to actually use it again. He came hauling butt to me when I called him. It's been over a year now since he's worn it and he still has a 100% reliable recall and he hasn't chased the neighbors even once. He WANTS to, I see him looking and he whines a little and I see his little feet start dancing, but I say, "Pete, come!" and he comes right to me to get a pat on the head then runs back into the barn.

Unfortunately, Winston has the neighbor-chasing habit despite my efforts to shelter him from Pete's vice, and unlike his older brother, Winston doesn't give a rip about an e-collar. He has a great recall when the neighbors aren't going by, so I've never been able to really use the e-collar to teach him to recall because he already does! And it's useless as a deterrent because (a) Usually be the time I see the neighbors he's already far enough away chasing them that he's out of range, and (b) even when I've managed to catch him before he gets out of range he just shakes it off and keeps right on going. (Thankfully, he always comes back).

I would never get one that causes the dog greater pain (like the one my neighbors have), and I'll probably never use the one I have right now again. But it was an immediate, and so far permanent solution to my problem with Pete. And he's certainly not suffered any ill-effects from my having used it.

I think in the wrong hands on the wrong dog, they could be really bad. I just lucked out that it worked with Pete, and it was definitely the final straw when I ordered it.
 

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I have no issues with people who use e collars. I have tried one on myself and even on the highest setting it's not bad.
One of my working dog friends uses shock collars to get a reliable recall with her German Shepherds. She has certified a lot of dogs in Schutzhund.
When working with an e collar it is important to work your way up from the lowest level as to not scare the dog. I have never seen a dog that was correctly trained with an e collar that was nervous or aggressive. Most have a better recall than my pups who were trained without.
 

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I have a "shock" collar for my dog. It's actually for dogs 25lbs and under and so the highest "shock" in no more that a static shock from a car door during winter.

I first purchased it becuase of the insanely restrictive leash and fence laws in the town I lived in. Dogs over 25 lbs, even with an owner presant, were supposed to be leashed if a fence was less than 4 feet high. This meant that the fenced-in park, where dogs were allowed, wasn't one you could take your dog and let run even if you had great control. I couldn't even "legally" let her off leash in my friend's yard who had a 3 foot fence. Crazytown.

So I researched the laws and someone told me about the remote trainer. I use the beep for recall 99.99% of the time...I think I've only had to buzz her once or twice on low. I've used it for going on 7 years now.

I don't live in that town anymore, but for most places, including state parks the remote trainer is actually a legal leash. I can let her run and do her business (cleaning it up of course) with no fear of legal repercussions.

So, despite what people say, she's not nervous or aggresive, and she goes bannannans when she sees me take her coller out of the closet because that means an off-lead walk or bike ride. It was a bit tougher to train her on the pet-fence that came with my newest house because she was accustomed to a beep meaning recall to me, but she's learned. (I actually have that one attached to a harness so she knows the difference). I'd say in order of excitement, e-collar leads followed by leash and lastly the harness for the in-ground fence. Still they all seem to elicit a level of excitement that makes it near impossible to put them on for a minute. It's actually pretty adorable.

She was 90% trained before I used the e-collar. I didn't really use it as a training device, to be honest. I polished off her training and use it as a wireless leash. Truth is that I have a dog without an lead or collar that I can trust in my backyard if I'm supervising. I don't think that would work for all dogs or all doggy personalities.
 

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I had one opinion and then I talked to my boyfriend who has been a hunter all his life and has always used a gps/e-collar on his dogs when they go hunt. We came to the conclusions that we believe they have a time and a place but aren't an alternative to training your dog. I hate when I see an owner at the dog park with an e-collar on their dog that instead of giving their dog a command to "Leave It" they are over sitting on the bench shocking away and still getting no results.

If and when Trucker ever gets to the point where he can go hunting with my boyfriend then he will be equipped with a gps/e-collar and my boyfriend will not be buzzing away at it. The collar will only be used as a method of silent communication if Trucker was to get focused on the wrong thing or be doing something to endanger himself.

We will make sure Trucker still has proper training to know his verbal commands and his silent commands but both my boyfriend and I believe that when it comes to situations when it could be life or death that a gentle buzz (don't crank the collar all the way up) is better than the alternative.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I see a lot of people saying they use this for reliable recall or think it is necessary in certain situations. Well, have you actually read the studies that have been done on e-collar training? Just to go ahead and debunk your misconceptions, in multiple different trials/test groups, dogs that have been training using and e-collar are not in any way more reliable with any behaviors than dogs who have been trained with positive reinforcement.

They are unnecessary, they don't work, they cause measurable stress to your dog, and in some situations that stress extends to their relationship with you as well. Please do your research before you decide to use a controversial training tool.
 
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