OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

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tiva
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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby tiva » Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:47 pm

I hesitate to jump into this discussion, but hey, why not.

I try to use about 99% positive reinforcement with my dogs, but I do use an e-collar on one of them. I started using it in desperation when he got under our neighbor's electric fence twice and chased the cattle. After $8000 of very solid fencing still didn't completely contain him, the choice my neighbor offered me was either keeping him on leash on our farm for the rest of his life, or using an e-collar (the neighbor had the legal right to shoot our dog, but he's a nice guy and didn't want to do that). We chose the e-collar, and I worked long and hard with a trainer to stop the cattle chasing. And since then, I have actually integrated it into our broader training for off-leash work. We use it at extremely low levels, and I would never use a stim level on him that I hadn't used on myself. Typically, when I show someone how strong the stim that I use with Vanya is, they have trouble feeling it. I took months and months learning to use it, and while it does cause pain, the pain is far less than the pain of a flat collar being pulled against his neck, especially when a long line is attached, or the pain of the gentle-leader muzzle tightening briefly around his muzzle, or the pain of the sense-ation harness under his legs. He's far more happy when he sees me get out the e-collar than when he sees me get out his flat collar and leash, that's for certain.

I don't ever use it when he's around other dogs, because I don't want him to form any associations with pain and another dog. I did take him to one trainer who promised she could work on his dog-reactivity with the e-collar in a kind and gentle way, and she was a disaster. (But she was such a disaster so early in our session that luckily she never brought out another dog). I use the gentle leader rather than the e-collar when we're around other dogs, so I can control Vanya's head, but to be honest he reacts much more negatively to the muzzle loop when it tightens slightly on his muzzle than he reacts to the collar (I've counter-conditioned him a lot to the GL, and he doesn't mind it unless he lunges suddenly at something and it tightens on him. I've modified it so it won't tighten on his nose, but I was really struck by how it causes far more pain than the e-collar and is far less controllable by me.)

Having the freedom to work with Vanya off-leash without worrying about him and other animals is an enormous benefit for me and my situation. I'm a wildlife ecologist and I work in the woods for months each year, and it's really important to me to have my with me. We're way out in wildlife lands--we don't come across other people where I work, but we do come across plenty of bear and deer. For the first year, before I got an e-collar, I trained him endlessly on a very long line, but I couldn't proof him well enough to stop in mid-chase if a deer took off in front of us. I could keep him on a long line for the rest of his life, but for our situation, the e-collar is much less aversive and better overall. But I wouldn't let my husband use it--not that he would be cruel or anything, but because he hasn't taken the time to learn how to do it properly, and his timing isn't great.

So I generally agree with the anti-shock collar people in their general perspective: for me and my dogs, positive methods are best whenever possible. But the simple truth is that any type of collar causes some pain--a flat collar, a gentle leader, a harness--and the e-collar, at least for my dog, can be used to cause less pain than a flat collar with a leash attached.

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tiva
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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby tiva » Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:54 pm

Oh--I should add that the levels of stim needed to stop his cattle chasing and deer chasing were not high. I didn't just go out to the field and blast him with a high level of shock in front of the cows (as some idiot suggested). Instead, I worked for a long time with him, a long line, and recall commands backed up with very low level stims. That provided the foundation to then take him next to the cows, far enough away so he was still under threshold, and keep him on the long line, and continue recalls backed up by the low-level stim. Training a dog to leave off a prey chase WILL take an extremely high level of pain if you just walk out into a field and try to stop a chase without previous training. But if you do the foundation work, it takes only a low stim. At least that's my experience with a grand total of 1 dog.

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tiva
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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby tiva » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:00 pm

And finally, according to the trainer I worked with (a bird dog trainer)--you never let the dog go over-threshold when you're working with an e-collar. You start in very low distraction situations, then introduce tiny distractions and proof the dog a zillion times, and then finally work up to higher distractions. If you ever need to go above the dog's working level--the level where he gives a slight tilt of the head to indicate he notices the stim (for my dog, this is level #2 out of 36 levels)--you're failed in your training, because you introduced distractions too quickly.

Obviously, a lot of people using e-collars don't follow this rule!

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby knitter4years » Tue Dec 08, 2009 11:04 pm

My current foster dog, a year old or younger when she arrived 3 months ago, showed up severely cat aggressive, and with an out of control prey drive, which means she'd run after any prey, and we have lots of squirrels around. We worked with her for 6 weeks on her behavioral issues, including the incredible pent up energy you'd expect in such a young dog of high energy who'd been kenneled for many months before she arrived.

I believe strongly that all dogs should have their prey drive under control as having them dart out in traffic after a cat or a squirrel is a liability that could cause a traffic accident, or that cats in the neighborhood could be killed or hurt the dog who went after them. After 6 weeks she was 85 percent better, and had calmed down thanks to all the exercise we gave her daily. She lives with 3 other dogs that are calm and balanced and get lots of exercise. The 15 percent that remained was her outside and going after prey, cats, squirrels, or whatever. She was always wonderful with dogs of any size. We bought a very high end e-collar from EZT that cost us hundreds of dollars. Before we used it, we got educated on its use and used it on us at the lowest to the highest level so we would know what it felt like. The collar goes from levels 1 to 16. At 1-6, it feels like a tickle of an insect buzzing against your skin. At 16, the highest level, it felt like a snap from a rubber band.

The written and video material and the company representatives we spoke with before we used the collar showed that it trains hunting dogs to know what prey dogs can and can't go after. We used it on level 3 and it stopped her in her tracks as she ran after squirrels or cats. We used it for 2 weeks. She doesn't go after anything at all hasn't worn it since November 5th, and I'm posting this now on December 8th.

The collar saves the animals and protects her and anyone she might endanger by running after prey. It avoids traffic accidents. We only used it for the prey drive and we used it responsibly. She loves us and is calm and happy and safe.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby pitbulliest » Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:52 pm

Stormi wrote:We need a debate thread for these torture devices?

Agreed!

I think certain people's kids may need these, though...but that's a different thread altogether! :))

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby chas » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:34 am

I have read this entire post from start to finish. (and all the links and things too).
From what I get so far, It is seen as wrong by some to use these collars because it causes the dog physical pain. (in turn studdies suggest that mental and emotional pain results.. then unwanted behavior) Using the previous statement as a basis, I have written some questions that may be important.
Can pain be a form of communication? Do dogs use pain and or agression as a form of communication with each other? Even if they do, does it make it right for humans? Is pain always bad? Can dogs tollerate different amounts of pain? Do some dogs willingly partake in activities that they know will result in pain? Would it be wrong to yell at the dog? Could yelling at some dogs be worse then physical pain? Could putting a dog in timeout be more traumatic then physical pain? Are you certain? Do some individuals "view" pain the same way they "view" cold or hot or any other sensation? Does this have to do with the intensity of the pain? Is it the physical pain or the feeling of agression that is more damaging for a dog? Are we as humans supposto avoid anything that might make our dogs feel pain (physical emotional mental)? Are dogs individual with respect to the above questions? Is pain a part of "being"
everyone and everything has a different view of pain. Some people would rather not get their tooth numbed before getting it filled. Some kids would rather be spanked then grounded. Some people and dogs get burned reaching into a fire yet will do it every time they get a chance. (a reason dogs need supervision) Pain is a relative thing that is difficult to quantify especially between individuals. Its hard for me to think about without thinking how I would react. I am of the oppinion that what hurts me doesnt necessarily hurt everyone else and what doesnt hurt me might hurt others.

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tiva
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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby tiva » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:05 am

Well, actually, e-collars don't need to be used in a way that causes pain, or at least not any more pain than the feeling of a flat collar pulling against the neck. I'd much rather train with positive reinforcement as much as possible, for many reasons: I think I get a lot more drive and enthusiasm, and a lot more problem-solving, when I shape behaviors with P+. In certain circumstances, however, restraint is necessary, and the restraint of an e-collar may be less punishing than other forms of restraint (ie, having to stay on leash all the time). The e-collar, with my dog, used at low stims, causes a lot less pain than the gentle leader tightening on his muzzle. It's essentially a check-cord--a long line--and like the long line, if you set the dog up to fail, you'll cause a bit of punishment (when the dog reaches the end of the long line and gets stopped by his collar hitting his neck, or when the dog gets reminded by the low stim of an e-collar to stop). I try to train so that I never set him up to have the GL tighten, or the flat collar get pulled against his neck, just as I try never to put him in a situation where I need to reinforce a cue with a stim because he's taking off after a neighbor's cow. (In other words, I work hard to condition a "really reliable recall", following Leslie Nelson's techniques. But when we're near livestock, I still put the e-collar on, because it protects them from my dog and it protects Vanya from them, if something goes wrong with my first line of defense: a well-trained, enthusiastic, recall and leave-it.)

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MikeInTacoma » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:55 am

tiva wrote:[...] I'd much rather train with positive reinforcement as much as possible, for many reasons: I think I get a lot more drive and enthusiasm, and a lot more problem-solving, when I shape behaviors with P+. [...]

I'm guessing you meant R+, not P+ in that spot, neh?

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby tiva » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:57 am

Yes! R+ is what I meant. I should stay away from abbreviations. Positive reinforcement leads to happy enthusiastic drive for my pup, and probably for most others. Punishment sucks. (But some punishments suck less than others).

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby Grinsomx » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:46 am

in short...totally against this sort of "tools".
positive reinforcement works better anyway (IMO)

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby pumpkinpunk » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:05 pm

My experience with an E collar. Chance adopted me when he was 9 months old. He came from an under socialized back round, off a 6 ft chain. Needless to say I needed help. I contacted my local pit bull rescue (will remain nameless do to it being a group of people and the one who responded to me just happened to be an E collar advocate) for advise on a good trainer assuming they knew tons! She told me of an AMAZING trainer who worked miracles, she used a Ecollars to completely revamp any dogs behavior problem. I had no idea what I was getting myself into (1st mistake) due to a rescue telling me after explaining my problems that she would be the first person I should go to.. So I went to her talked a bit and set up our training. One grand later (2nd mistake) we had 3 training days with her personally and 6 months of Saturdays. We did the one lesson and Chance was becoming more and more recluse to the shocks. He would shake when we put the collar on him, cower when it shocked him, and pee if he became nervous of doing a behavior he was shocked for before.. Needless to say this kept up for about a week (3rd mistake) the trainer said it would stop and to just lower his "temperature" but the collar was already set at the lowest settings possible. Needless to say I never went back to her after that first week. Positive re-enforcement has done wonders for him much more in 1 day than that collar did in a whole entire week. I don't think there is such thing as positive punishment. Who would ever think of being harmed as positive? I am utterly against this collar, and consequently am holding a grudge against a certain APBT rescue.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MikeInTacoma » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:38 am

pumpkinpunk wrote:[...] I don't think there is such thing as positive punishment. Who would ever think of being harmed as positive? [...]

"Positive punishment" does not mean the punishment is good. It means a punishment that adds something to the situation (distinct from a negative punishment, which subtracts something from the environment).

For example -- an e-collar can be used to deliver a positive punishment, or P+, because it adds something -- an (usually mild, and usually harmless, at least physically) electric shock -- to the situation. Turning your back on a dog who is jumping up is an example of a negative punishment, or P-, because it removes something the dog wants (your attention, in this case) from the situation.

Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like the e-collar was certainly not the right tool for Chance. (Sorry about your $1000!)

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby pumpkinpunk » Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:00 pm

wegobad wrote: "Positive punishment" does not mean the punishment is good. It means a punishment that adds something to the situation (distinct from a negative punishment, which subtracts something from the environment).

For example -- an e-collar can be used to deliver a positive punishment, or P+, because it adds something -- an (usually mild, and usually harmless, at least physically) electric shock -- to the situation. Turning your back on a dog who is jumping up is an example of a negative punishment, or P-, because it removes something the dog wants (your attention, in this case) from the situation.

Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like the e-collar was certainly not the right tool for Chance. (Sorry about your $1000!)


Oh, I honestly would not have guessed that, I always thought it did mean good punishment. :oops: It really wasn't the right thing for him. I'm sure it would be a more appropriate tool for dogs who have better self confidence but I was trying to build his. Ever since she taught us how to teach "off" with the e collar he becomes scared. Say Chance were to have jumped on someone. "Off" he will become really nervous or even submissive pee by the new person. Or "off" the couch, he will immediately jump off and become a little skittish. I am re working this with baiting and clicking he is doing better with the off of furniture, but the jumping on people and off command is tougher. We are just working on polite greets and having guest bring in cookies to ask him to sit for them. I am aware this collar can be used to help with situations and certain dogs, but as in my case (fear aggression, fear, lack of socialization) I do not see it as being a good tool. But I know it does go by a case by case standard I'm sure it has worked for others. But not us. I'm really sorry about the grand as well.. Wish it were a candy bar I was upset about. But you learn from mistakes, what else can I say.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MarMar » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:15 am

Here's a source that explains P+, R+, R- and P- pretty well!!

http://www.wagntrain.com/OC/

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

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