Lesson 3: training tools require critical thought and a clear understanding of one’s goals
I want to share 2 experiences that are less about how we came to use training collars and more about the lessons we learned using them.
Important disclaimer: I am not a trainer and am no way suggesting this is the only way to train or that our experiences are the norm. I am sharing for those who want to learn more about potential scenarios & what worked for us.
Experience 1: Henry reacted very poorly to the introduction of the e-collar, despite having no issue learning his prong and having a strong obedience foundation. I have written about this before so I won’t go into too much detail but the main thing I want to say is that e-collars don’t just “work” (although I have heard of a few lucky cases where they seem to!). Henry needed to understand what the stimulus meant and it took a lot of time, patience, and fixing of my mistakes along the way. I wanted to give up, and I was close to it, but I stuck with it and I am so glad I did! #ecollarfreedom is real!
Experience 2: There are times when correction methods can make a bad situation worse. For us this happened during moments of dog reactivity. I used his prong and it was a bad choice for him. It worked him up more, even though he typically is not phased by it. I now understand why this was the case, but it was a learning point. I learned when not to use his prong. For Henry, the e-collar interrupts this behavior so much more effectively and allows him to de-escalate quickly and avoid unnecessary stress. The prong is still my go-to for walks, basic obedience, and other forms of “unemotional” communication, but I try to stay clear of it during moments of high stress and anxiety.
The main learning for us has been that tools are tools. They have potential for misuse and (often unintentional) incorrect use. But they can be very effective for improving your communication with your dog and your dog’s overall quality of life. That’s why these hardships were worth working through for us, but we needed the guidance of an experienced trainer. And if you’re ever in doubt I would recommend one!