OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

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OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MikeInTacoma » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:53 am

Duke it out here boys and girls! Let's just KEEP IT HERE!

No more polluting other threads with pro- or anti- e-collar propaganda.

Got an opinion? Voice it here, leave other threads alone - or at least allow them to remain on topic!!!!

If someone butts into your thread to start an e-collar debate, send them here.


We're not talking about the medical cone "e-collar" (short for Elizabethan collar) like this (pic courtesy of Wikipedia):
Image

Rather, we're talking about the "electronic collar" kind of "e-collar." This typically is remotely controlled via a hand-held radio transmitter, and will administer electric shock stimuli to the dog. Some models incorporate vibrations and/or audible signals that can be used to communicate with the dog. (Wikipedia doesn't have a picture, but there's an article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shock_collar. The pic below is from Tritronics, one vendor that sells this sort of equipment.)
Image


This kind of equipment is used by some dog trainers and handlers, and considered abusive by others. Hence the need for a thread like this, where opinions may be expressed without overwhelming other threads. Passions tend to run high on this topic, but we still expect posts to meet PBF standards of civility:
PBF's primary goal is to educate people about the breed. Therefore we forbid:

* Posting advice angrily. If you cannot post positively, please leave it to those who can.
* Name calling or insulting remarks about other forum members.
* Negative or attacking comments directed at other forum members.


Sound good?

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MikeInTacoma » Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:26 am

Here's my take on it. E-collars are most useful for administering positive punishment to stop an unwanted behavior. Positive punishment is most effective when three conditions are consistently met: It is used every time the unwanted behavior occurs, at the exact moment that the behavior occurs, and it is so unpleasant for the dog that only two or three trials are needed for the dog to stop the behavior.

Most owners (heck, even most trainers) simply are not good enough to use a shock collar humanely and effectively. They will use too low a setting, and the dog becomes habituated to the shocks, so they are not effective at stopping the behavior. Or they use too high a setting, and traumatize the dog. Their timing is sloppy, and the dog forms negative associations with the wrong thing. They are inconsistent about punishing -- they didn't notice until too late that the dog was about to do the unwanted behavior, or they had dropped the remote control, or they forgot to make sure the battery was fresh, or whatever. In my opinion, most humans simply are not competent to use this equipment properly.

And, using it improperly is basically abuse. And worse, it can have extremely negative "fallout" effects on the dog's behavior. The case I remember reading about was a Golden, iirc, who loved the neighborhood children, but kept jumping up on them. Owner was afraid a kid would get knocked down or scratched, hired a trainer who brought a collar. Golden went to jump on a kid, got a shock, and evidently associated the pain with the presence of children. Golden became positively dangerous around children, and the behavioral problem was resolved via euthanasia.

This Science Direct .com abstract is interesting reading:
Clinical signs caused by the use of electric training collars on dogs in everyday life situations
As an experiment, some Beagles were prevented from hunting a fake rabbit by the use of shock collars, and their stress levels were monitored.
Three experimental groups were used. Group A (Aversion) received the electric shock when the dogs touched the prey—a rabbit dummy fixed to a motion device. Group H (Here) received the electric shock when they did not obey a previously trained recall command during hunting. Animals of group R (Random) received the electric shock arbitrarily, i.e. the shock was administered unpredictably and out of context.
The Group A dogs, who were shocked every single time automatically, did not have elevated stress. The Group H dogs, who were shocked when they didn't obey a recall, had somewhat increased stress. The Group R dogs, who were shocked at random, had extremely increased stress.
This led to the conclusion that animals, which were able to clearly associate the electric stimulus with their action, i.e. touching the prey, and consequently were able to predict and control the stressor, did not show considerable or persistent stress indicators.

When the dog is effectively in control of the shock, and can predict it, then it is not inhumane. In theory, this is possible. In practice, however... :bully:

There are other ways of using e-collars; at a low level that's annoying, but not painful, some trainers use it for negative reinforcement (dog offers wanted behavior, annoyance is turned off as a reward). I'm not liking that so much either. I strongly prefer positive reinforcement and negative punishment. I have dogs because I like dogs, not because I like to give them unpleasant experiences.

I can probably be convinced that, in a few specific cases, an e-collar is the lesser of evils. (Maybe a ranch dog that harasses the lambs too much or something, or a dog living near a highway in a town where fences, tethering, and leashes are illegal, or something whack like that.) But in general, I'd look really hard for a better way to train the dog or manage the behavior.

That's my $.02.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby Stormi » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:14 pm

We need a debate thread for these torture devices?

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby BabyReba » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:53 pm

the reason we started this is because, just like cropping and docking, this is an issue that comes up and we end up with people who say they use them and people who say they are torture devices. the thing that'd be nice is if those who think they are torture devices could post up here about why they believe this to be the case and why people who think they are useful and have a place in training can also have a place to say why they use them.

we end up with threads where people say they use them, and the thread ends up being more focused on people wanting to debate the use of the collar than on the subject at hand (dog aggression, obedience issues, etc.), and inevitably the topic gets lost . . . it would be nice if we could combine the wealth of information about these collars in a place where it becomes a resource for people rather than a place where they have to be afraid to even ask or mention that they have ever tried one of these things to get whatever issue they have under control.

i don't believe that it's to anyone's benefit to shut down discussion but that it's always good to provide enough information for people to make informed choices. if you have information to provide for people that would explain why they are bad choices for dogs, why not have a thread in a sticky where people can go to read about it without having to stumble around the forum looking, only to find a variety of other topics that sort of relate but turn into arguments?

this could be a place where people can ask about them, get some answers, have a place where people discuss them in a constructive way. you are more than welcome to post evidence against them here--post studies, personal experiences, anything you want that isn't an attack on someone . . . and hey, if only anti-e-collar sentiment is posted, then that puts a whole lot of information that supports your position in a prominent place on the forum!

at least that's how i see it . . .

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby Red » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:31 am

E-collars are based on the principle of aversive stimulation, which is anything a dog tries to escape or avoid. Behavior is changed in order to avoid the stimulation.In this case, it is an electric stimulation applied on skin tissue beneath the electrodes (electrode- skin interface). The electric stimulation can vary from low levels stimulation to a higher level stimulation that cause significant startle, pain, distress and discomfort. Generally, low levels qualify for escape/avoidance and therefore negative reinforcement, medium level is punishment and negative reinforcement and high level is quick suppression of behavior and highly aversive counter conditioning.Many brand of e-collars are on the market today and the quality varies. Some have the means to adjust the collar to deliver stimulation at low and medium level (with tingling effect) as well as high level electrical stimulation.Other still produce a high end shock that is absolutely unnecessary and exceed what is "needed" for the average dog owner.Unfortunately such devices are available to just about everyone, at pet stores and on line, or are sold by trainers who are too quick to suggest them.

The e-collar is not something for anyone to just experiment with.It is a device that can cause stress, distress, learned helplessness, social disruption and several side effects which are unknown to even those who make a living using them. Sure you will find an owner or trainer that say that the side effects mentioned are ridiculous and never happens but they do, and e-collars are not appropriate for every situation, behavior, nor for every dog.These devices are used because positive punishment works, at least initially, at least enough to stop a behavior if the electric stimulation is high enough. Problem is, that the magnitude of the aversive stimulus (any stimulus used for positive punishment) must be enough to suppress the behavior as it is applied. But it can't be so intense to cause psychical or mental trauma. Who is to judge what intensity effectively stops the behavior right in that moment ? Who is to decide which level of stimulation is enough to punish but not enough to cause any type trauma? Nobody can, to put it simply. The dog's behavior does, but once a dog has been punished more than "needed" that action cannot be taken back. Mostly, a level is "tried" and a trainer or owner starts with a mild stimulation and increases it if it does not work. There you have the beginning of habituation and there you have an aversive that was not enough in that situation but still applied. The dog will receive different level stimulation till the right intensity for the punishment is found.Sure, one can zap the dog at a higher level from the beginning , the dog has no chance to modify his behavior within the delivery, and that is unfair.

One possible consequence of an electric stimulation, as well as other form of punishment, is a conditioned emotional response toward what caused the stimulation, in the dog's mind. Handler orders the dog to down and dog sees another dog running by and brake the down stay. Handler deliver the stimulation to punish breaking the stay but what has really happened when the dog broke the down stay? The dog was focusing on the incoming dog and that stimulus (the dog) is now associated with punishment. Does the dog understand that breaking the down stay is what earned him a shock? Or does the dog recognizes that another dog entering the environment is now a predictor for pain? Unfortunately many dogs have increased their emotional responses toward other dogs, or even people or something else in the environment, because of punishment and despite the "they knew what the behavior meant". Some trainers have the habit to use electric stimulation for a dog reactive dog for simply looking at another and that is not productive. A good way to create negative association and one more problem to deal with.What is the motivation behind a dog wanting to go after another? Sometime it is fear based and in that case I can't even begin to describe the effects that punishment end up having. Does your average trainer that suggest you an e-collar know anything about fears? Is he/she qualified to recognize what motivates behavior and choose the appropriate behavior change protocol or the goal is just to suppress behavior all along? Do you, the average owner, know anything about the principles of learning and behavior and the topography or stress, before you fit your dog for an e-collar?These are questions to find answers for, before anyone goes and buy an electric collar.

There is just so much to say about these devices and aversion training in general that it'd be impossible to put it in one single post. People get tired of reading anything valuable that is longer than a paragraph anyway, they usually look for someone to say "hey I used it and it did wonders". Bottom line, if one is thinking to use an e-collar then they need to do their homework and known the risks associated with it, as well as the it works part. Companion animals should be treated with respect and dignity and sometime what works does not exactly meet the criteria for it.Here are a few resources:

Balaban, M. T., Rhodes, D. L., & Neuringer, A. (1990). Orienting and defense responses to punishment: effects on learning. Biological Psychology, 30, 203-217

Overall, K. L. (2007). Why electric shock is not behavior modification. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 2, 1-4.

Balaban, M.T., Rhodes, D.L. & Neuringer, A. (1990). Orienting versus defense responses to punishing feedback: Effects on learning. Biological Psychology, 30, 203-217.

Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J. and Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004) Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Anim. Welf. 13, 63-69

Dr. Karen Overall's views:
http://joelwalton.com/shockcollars.html

http://www.4pawsu.com/IAABC_Ecollar.pdf

http://www.ust.is/media/ljosmyndir/dyra ... collar.pdf

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MikeInTacoma » Fri Oct 23, 2009 5:38 am

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

As long as owners and trainers defend their use, yeah, I think we should discuss it. And it's nice to have it in one place, rather than muddling a dozen other threads that are only tangentially related. (Though so far, it looks like the "anti-" side is so awesome, that the "pro-" side doesn't want to play.)

"Torture device" is a subjective and inflammatory phrase. At one of the police precincts near where I grew up, "torture devices" included telephone directories, pliers, towels, car batteries, and jumper cables. (Tasers and stun guns weren't widely available back then.) That's all stuff I have in my garage or basement, except the phone books (I tend to use a search engine now). Even a purpose-built torture device like a shock collar can be used for things other than torture; for example, on a low setting, you could use it as a reward marker. So, "torture" resides in the minds of the victims and observers; and perhaps in the minds of the torturers (though many of them seem to think what they do is not torture). It does not reside in the devices used. (Over the years, I have become convinced that the most common "torture devices" are the words and hands of parents.)

In my "$.02" post, I nearly said "I have dogs because I like dogs, not because I like to torture them." But I wanted to communicate clearly. So I changed it to "I have dogs because I like dogs, not because I like to give them unpleasant experiences." (Probably should have said 'aversive experiences' rather than 'unpleasant experiences.')


Red wrote:E-collars are based on the principle of aversive stimulation, which is anything a dog tries to escape or avoid. [...]

Awesome post, Red. Thanks for the clear explanations, and thanks too for the references.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby mommy2kane » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:24 am

The "pro" side doesn't want to play, because it's not a game and some peope on here don't "play" fair anyway. I use an e-collar. I have no regrets. My dog is a high case of dog aggression. The e-collar is NOT used for the dog aggression, it's used to correct the obedience. My dog is not a poor, tortured dog. He's quite the opposite. There are people on this board who have seen my dog in real life and during training. The "cookie cookie" approach didn't work for him.

Now, we're on our way to competitive obedience. My dog understands what's expected of him. And he will be corrected for blantantly blowing off a command. He knows "platz" means "platz," even if there's another dog on the field doing obedience.

I don't discuss my training methods on here often because of the people who JUMP all over someone who doesn't use purely positive methods. I use all kinds of training methods, and I'll never knock someone who uses positive only and is successful. Yet, it kills me that positive people will knock someone who uses corrections, punishment, compulsion, etc. Every dog is different. Every dog has a training method that will work for him.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MikeInTacoma » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:58 am

A challenger appears!

Disclaimers -- I'm no expert, and these are my personal views, not reflective of PBF policy, etc.

mommy2kane wrote:The "pro" side doesn't want to play, because it's not a game
Rhetorically dull, semantically null, moving on.

mommy2kane wrote:and some peope on here don't "play" fair anyway.
That unfortunately is true, and I disapprove. I'll do my best to play fair.

mommy2kane wrote:I use an e-collar. I have no regrets.
Thanks for being frank! It saves time.

I'm turning some of what you said a different color, because that's what's interesting to me, and I want it to stand out.

mommy2kane wrote:My dog is a high case of dog aggression. The e-collar is NOT used for the dog aggression, it's used to correct the obedience. My dog is not a poor, tortured dog. He's quite the opposite. There are people on this board who have seen my dog in real life and during training. The "cookie cookie" approach didn't work for him.

Now, we're on our way to competitive obedience. My dog understands what's expected of him. And he will be corrected for blantantly blowing off a command. He knows "platz" means "platz," even if there's another dog on the field doing obedience.
So, you're doing Schutzhund I guess? Excellent. When you say "the 'cookie cookie' approach didn't work," I have some questions that I hope you'll answer.
1) How do you know it didn't work for your dog? What did "it's not working" look like, in your dog's case?
2) Have you had success using "the 'cookie cookie' approach" in training other dogs?
3) To what do you attribute the failure of "the 'cookie cookie' approach?"
4) What did you use for a reward marker, when you were trying "the 'cookie cookie' approach?"

And, because I don't know that much about Schutzhund, a few other questions --
5) Is the dog allowed to wear the e-collar during competition?
6) Are you allowed to use the e-collar to give corrections during competition?
7) Does your dog know when you can correct him with the e-collar, and when you lack that capability (either because it's not the right collar, or it's against the rules, or whatever reason)?
8) What's your backup plan if the dog figures out that you can't correct him sometimes?

You see, it's puzzling to me, because I know of other high-drive DA dogs who have titled in various dog sports like Schutzhund, who were trained with positive reinforcement / negative punishment, and not with shock collars, prong collars, etc. The laws governing behavior and training should apply to your dog as well as they do to other dogs. So, if I knew why this didn't work for your dog, it might be illuminating.

I admit that, from your use of the condescending characterization of positive reinforcement as "the 'cookie cookie' approach," I suspect that you didn't properly use "clicker training" methods. I expect that you weren't careful to stay under threshold, or you didn't use a sufficiently rewarding reinforcer, or your rate of reinforcement was too low, or you raised criteria for reinforcement too rapidly (without enough successful repetitions to solidify the behavior), or your early sessions went too long, or your timing was inconsistent, or you didn't break the target behavior into sufficiently small gradations for shaping, or most likely, some combination of those errors. In short, I expect you didn't give "the 'cookie cookie' approach" a fair chance with your dog.

But maybe I'm wrong, which would be pretty exciting, because then maybe I can learn something. Either way, I hope you'll give us a description of what "cookie cookie" training you did with your dog, and how you judged that it wasn't working.

mommy2kane wrote:I don't discuss my training methods on here often because of the people who JUMP all over someone who doesn't use purely positive methods. I use all kinds of training methods, and I'll never knock someone who uses positive only and is successful. Yet, it kills me that positive people will knock someone who uses corrections, punishment, compulsion, etc. Every dog is different. Every dog has a training method that will work for him.
Yes, I'd like to see all of us extend more courtesy to those with whom we disagree. And I agree that every dog is unique, and what works wonders with a particular dog may be ineffective with another.

I understand the temptation to diss positive punishments and compulsion. From my point of view, it's an unnecessarily cruel way to train a dog. There's a better way, and the info has been available for years. Still, we owe it to ourselves to behave politely. Behaving rudely just makes people defensive, and makes it harder for them to change their minds.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby BabyReba » Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:12 pm

And, because I don't know that much about Schutzhund, a few other questions --
5) Is the dog allowed to wear the e-collar during competition?
6) Are you allowed to use the e-collar to give corrections during competition?


i can't answer your other questions, cuz i'm not amanda. but i wanted to step in and address these real quick.

the answer to 5 is no. the answer to 6 is also no.

the dog is actually off leash for the obedience and protection routines in schutzhund, and you may not correct your dog at all in competition.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby mommy2kane » Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:39 am

wegobad wrote:
You see, it's puzzling to me, because I know of other high-drive DA dogs who have titled in various dog sports like Schutzhund, who were trained with positive reinforcement / negative punishment, and not with shock collars, prong collars, etc.


Please give us a list of these High Drive DA dogs and their handlers because I would love to talk to them about their methods.

I'll respond to the rest in a sec.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby mommy2kane » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:21 am

wegobad wrote:
So, you're doing Schutzhund I guess? Excellent. When you say "the 'cookie cookie' approach didn't work," I have some questions that I hope you'll answer.
1) How do you know it didn't work for your dog? What did "it's not working" look like, in your dog's case?
2) Have you had success using "the 'cookie cookie' approach" in training other dogs?
3) To what do you attribute the failure of "the 'cookie cookie' approach?"
4) What did you use for a reward marker, when you were trying "the 'cookie cookie' approach?"



1 ) It didn't work, as in, it never gained his focus. It didn't stop him from "lighting up" at other dogs, it wasn't exciting enough to have him focus on me and not the other dog, etc. "It's not working" looked like a little 40 lb APBT doing everything in his power to get to another dog. It looked like a HOT dog, lunging and carrying on, and trying to get to that other dog.
2 ) This is my first real dog and the first dog I've trained.
3 ) My dog's level of dog aggression - he'd rather fight than eat or be praised.
4 ) There was no reward marker, to be honest. The method did not work, at all (for my dog), and it didn't get that far. We tried food, praise, toys, etc - nothing.

wegobad wrote:
And, because I don't know that much about Schutzhund, a few other questions --
5) Is the dog allowed to wear the e-collar during competition?
6) Are you allowed to use the e-collar to give corrections during competition?
7) Does your dog know when you can correct him with the e-collar, and when you lack that capability (either because it's not the right collar, or it's against the rules, or whatever reason)?
8) What's your backup plan if the dog figures out that you can't correct him sometimes?



5 ) As Erin said, no, the dog is not allowed to wear the e-collar during competition.
6 ) No. The e-collar is a training tool - it is not allowed on the field during competition.
7 ) Sure, some dogs are collar smart. Kane has gotten that way. Again, it's a training tool - it's used during training to proof certain exercises, to get proper positioning, to correct off-leash. The goal is to have the dog ready (trained) before going out onto the trial field.
8 ) I don't use the e-collar every single training session. Right before we were going for our BH, the e-collar was removed and training was done without it, to get ready for the trial. A fursaver is also used during training (always, even when the e-collar is on) because this is the collar that WILL be on during the trial. I do use leash corrections, as well.

wegobad wrote:
You see, it's puzzling to me, because I know of other high-drive DA dogs who have titled in various dog sports like Schutzhund, who were trained with positive reinforcement / negative punishment, and not with shock collars, prong collars, etc. The laws governing behavior and training should apply to your dog as well as they do to other dogs. So, if I knew why this didn't work for your dog, it might be illuminating.

I admit that, from your use of the condescending characterization of positive reinforcement as "the 'cookie cookie' approach," I suspect that you didn't properly use "clicker training" methods. I expect that you weren't careful to stay under threshold, or you didn't use a sufficiently rewarding reinforcer, or your rate of reinforcement was too low, or you raised criteria for reinforcement too rapidly (without enough successful repetitions to solidify the behavior), or your early sessions went too long, or your timing was inconsistent, or you didn't break the target behavior into sufficiently small gradations for shaping, or most likely, some combination of those errors. In short, I expect you didn't give "the 'cookie cookie' approach" a fair chance with your dog.

But maybe I'm wrong, which would be pretty exciting, because then maybe I can learn something. Either way, I hope you'll give us a description of what "cookie cookie" training you did with your dog, and how you judged that it wasn't working.



Let me make it clear that I wasn't trying to be condescending in my "cookie cookie" comments. I had genuinely received training advice to use "cookies" and treats for dog aggression. Unfortunately, these people never saw my dog, and didn't realize that a cookie was not going to do the trick. I didn't use clicker training methods. My definition of "cookie cookie" was using food, toys, etc to redirect my dog's focus. I didn't slap on an e-collar when I first got my dog. As a novice owner, I'm sure I went too fast in the beginning, but after consulting w/ some trainers, I stepped back. I worked on getting focus w/out distractions, then with just the sound of another dog, then a dog way off in the distance. You're right - there wasn't a sufficient reward - why? Because NOTHING was as big of a reward as that other dog. In my eyes, I gave it a fair shot. It didn't work for my dog. My dog is not a "slightly" DA dog who "might" go after another dog, or "might" just play rough. He was a liability in the wrong hands. So, when that doesn't work, other methods are consulted. Again, my main opinion is that each and every dog is different. Sure, someone may have a dog who responds to clicker-training, food, toys, etc. Some may have a dog who doesn't. Don't get me wrong, I use toys and food in my training as well. For rewards. Mostly food and praise, I should say. I use an e-collar for training, I correct for ill-behavior, or to perfect certain exercises. But just because someone uses an e-collar, doesn't mean they don't do positive things as well. When he gets something right, I praise - verbally, playing around - Kane thrives off of this. He's not damaged at the e-collar or leash correction he received before. I won't bring other people into this debate (via names), but there are plenty of people who know my dog. They know my dog isn't damaged, tortured, etc. He's got good temperament, doesn't break down easily. This dog jumps right back up after a correction - it's just training.

wegobad wrote:
I understand the temptation to diss positive punishments and compulsion. From my point of view, it's an unnecessarily cruel way to train a dog. There's a better way, and the info has been available for years. Still, we owe it to ourselves to behave politely. Behaving rudely just makes people defensive, and makes it harder for them to change their minds.


And I can understand how someone who doesn't use these methods and doesn't agree with these methods may think it's "cruel", "torture", etc. I, personally, don't believe in a "better" way - this goes back to my personal view that every dog is different - there are different ways for different dogs. I agree in behaving politely, as I hope I have behaved in this post. Me, personally, I'm not going to change my mind. I have success with my choice of training methods, my dog is well-adjusted, and this is the necessary route for my dog and what I want to do.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby BabyReba » Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:54 pm

i can testify to the fact that kane is highly dog aggressive--moreso than most dogs i've encountered.

i can also say that kane doesn't appear to be damaged or broken . . .

i can't say what other methods would have got him and amanda where they are now, but i do think i remember that another trainer had recommended that he be put down because his dog aggression was so acute. or maybe i'm confusing him with another dog . . . ? if so, amanda, please feel free to correct me. anyway, kane is definitely what i'd consider an acute case when it comes to wanting to kill other dogs.

he's great with people, a nice dog. but not even remotely safe with other dogs though. no engagement necessary, no big reaction. not safe with puppies. not safe with dogs he's had time to get to know gradually . . . the first time he came to my house, i remember he wanted to go through one of my windows to get at my dogs, who he could see inside . . . and amanda could not trust him to be in my 6-foot-fenced yard unless he was on leash, just in case some dog might be somewhere in the vicinity--and i don't think she was being overly cautious, she was being smart.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby mommy2kane » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:07 am

BabyReba wrote:i can testify to the fact that kane is highly dog aggressive--moreso than most dogs i've encountered.

i can also say that kane doesn't appear to be damaged or broken . . .

i can't say what other methods would have got him and amanda where they are now, but i do think i remember that another trainer had recommended that he be put down because his dog aggression was so acute. or maybe i'm confusing him with another dog . . . ? if so, amanda, please feel free to correct me. anyway, kane is definitely what i'd consider an acute case when it comes to wanting to kill other dogs.

he's great with people, a nice dog. but not even remotely safe with other dogs though. no engagement necessary, no big reaction. not safe with puppies. not safe with dogs he's had time to get to know gradually . . . the first time he came to my house, i remember he wanted to go through one of my windows to get at my dogs, who he could see inside . . . and amanda could not trust him to be in my 6-foot-fenced yard unless he was on leash, just in case some dog might be somewhere in the vicinity--and i don't think she was being overly cautious, she was being smart.


erin, you're definitely one of the people who have seen kane in action - seen kane through training - and seen kane now.

yes, there was a trainer who suggested i put him down because of his extreme level of dog aggression. that was a while ago (probably over 2 years ago) and i remember actually contemplating it. granted, i'm glad i didn't.

but overall, i think it's difficult for some people to really understand the level of dog aggression i've had to deal with, without seeing it firsthand.

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MikeInTacoma » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:11 am

mommy2kane wrote:
wegobad wrote:
You see, it's puzzling to me, because I know of other high-drive DA dogs who have titled in various dog sports like Schutzhund, who were trained with positive reinforcement / negative punishment, and not with shock collars, prong collars, etc.

Please give us a list of these High Drive DA dogs and their handlers because I would love to talk to them about their methods.

I'll respond to the rest in a sec.

The dogsports titled "high drive DA dogs" I was thinking of are Nelson's Drago, some of Diane Jessup's dogs, and Wallace the Disk Dog. Could be that I'm wrong about how some of them were trained, though; all I know about it is what sticks in my mind from reading here. (And as you see from my questions, I don't know that much about Schutzhund...) (I know Disk Dog isn't as impressive as Schutzhund, but the dog is off leash, chasing a disk, in a park full of other dogs... :dunno: )

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Re: OFFICIAL e-collar debate thread

Postby MikeInTacoma » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:45 am

mommy2kane wrote:
wegobad wrote: ...1) How do you know it didn't work for your dog? What did "it's not working" look like, in your dog's case?
2) Have you had success using "the 'cookie cookie' approach" in training other dogs?
3) To what do you attribute the failure of "the 'cookie cookie' approach?"
4) What did you use for a reward marker, when you were trying "the 'cookie cookie' approach?"


1 ) It didn't work, as in, it never gained his focus. It didn't stop him from "lighting up" at other dogs, it wasn't exciting enough to have him focus on me and not the other dog, etc. "It's not working" looked like a little 40 lb APBT doing everything in his power to get to another dog. It looked like a HOT dog, lunging and carrying on, and trying to get to that other dog.
2 ) This is my first real dog and the first dog I've trained.
3 ) My dog's level of dog aggression - he'd rather fight than eat or be praised.
4 ) There was no reward marker, to be honest. The method did not work, at all (for my dog), and it didn't get that far. We tried food, praise, toys, etc - nothing.

Ok, if you didn't first establish a reward marker, then you weren't using the most efficient of the "cookie cookie" methods. So maybe you didn't give it the best possible shot. But from your and Erin's descriptions, it sounds like once Kane was reacting, he would ignore the clicker and treats anyhow. As would most dogs; which is why you work with them below their reactivity threshold.

I've been thinking lately about dogs who "light up" with an impressive threat display toward other dogs. I have to wonder about the nature of their dog-aggression. Threat displays make the other animal run away. So if the dog wanted to murder the other dog, he would tend to not lunge and carry on, right? At least, that's how it seems to be with my Rufus. When he's barking and whatnot, I actually feel pretty relaxed (though embarrassed), because on the handful of occasions when I've seen him attack, he was very silent beforehand. So, I'm kind of concluding that, at least in some cases, dogs who light up around other dogs are reacting fearfully. Does that make sense?

Whoops, sorry, getting off the e-collar track...

So, when Kane was lighting up, you couldn't distract him with treats etc. In a normal desensitization / counterconditioning program, you want to give him the reinforcement when notices the other dog, but isn't close enough to react to it. So, maybe at a quarter mile away, Kane will alert on the other dog but not lunge / growl / puff up / etc. -- that's where you begin. Or maybe Kane is one of those dogs who will light up at an even farther distance. In that case, maybe Constructional Aggression Treatment (CAT) would help, especially if the aggression is (at least partly) fear-based.

If the aggression is not fear-based, but prey-based (I'm pretty sure that the fight drive of the APBT is a modification of the prey drive), then my guess is that CAT wouldn't work. Because it uses the removal of the stimulus dog as the reward. If Kane wants to get closer to the other dog (the better to bite its head off), then removing the stimulus dog is a punishment, not a reward.

For a bunch of obvious reasons, it is unacceptable to use the biting of another dog as a reward for Kane. So if that's really what he wants more than anything (which I'm not 100% sure about, because of his threat displays), then I admit I don't know with certainty how to change his behavior with "purely positive" methods. The books I've been reading tend to have disclaimers about the "rare" dogs who actually enjoy fighting for the sake of fighting. My guess is that a long counter-conditioning and desensitization program would be the way to go; and it would not show results immediately, but might need weeks or months to show appreciable progress.

But also -- we've all heard of dogs blowing through invisible fences, shaking off tazer darts, and attacking even though they were wearing e-collars. So, if Kane wants more than anything to bite the other dog, then... why does a shock on the neck get his attention and stop his behavior?


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