Building the Foundation and Setting Your Dog Up For Success
I'm working on educational videos and accompanying written copy to specifically teach clients how to do a proper e-collar introduction. But given the amount of inquiries we receive regarding how E collar training works, I want to use this blog series to give an overview of the process and how we utilize E collars in dog training. If you haven't read my blog, “What are E Collars and Why Do We Use Them?”, or my previous blog in this series, “E collar Training Part 1”, please give those a read as it will help address a lot of questions and set the stage for what we are going to cover moving forward.
Training Is NOT About The Equipment
As mentioned before, and something I speak about whenever addressing any training tool, most especially e collars, training is not about the equipment. This may seem counter intuitive in a blog specifically about a device, but the crucial point is that tools are just that.
I recently posted a video on our Facebook page, K9 Heights Dog Training, featuring Daven, one of our board and trains. In the video, I showed Daven having just a Martingale on, doing long-distance off leash recalls, off leash heeling, and sending to place. All without the use of the e-collar. This is critical for people to see and understand. This is the concept demonstrated in the statement “training is not about the tool”.
It shows that any equipment, whether it be a treat, Martingale, our voice, leash, Gentle Leader, pinch collar, e-collar, or anything else, is a just a tool. There is no substitute for training.
Understanding the Training Process
I have worked for people and witnessed countless others who rely on a specific tool to “teach” the dog. This is not what K9 Heights does with the e-collar or any other piece of equipment. Such an approach to training would be akin to thinking that a house can get framed by simply cutting and nailing boards together.
Framing a house requires planning and using blueprints, ensuring that you start with the green plate on the foundation, building your floor, sheeting it with OSB, snapping out chalk lines for the bottom plate, building your walls and standing them, bracing the walls, and so on.
wHAT KIND OF HOUSE ARE YOU BUILDING?
a HOUSE OF cARDS OR A mANSION?
If there is no action with intent, no purposeful activity proceeding intelligently from one step to the next, all predicated upon a solid foundation, there will be big problems. You will be lucky if you even get anything resembling a house, let alone a quality, livable home. Just cutting loose with the saw and hammer on some boards may look like you are building something. But the reality is far from that. So it is with dog training.
Build Your Foundation
So, before embarking upon any e collar training. You must ensure that you have done a good job working on the basics, building the foundation with your dog. Your checklist for what elements constitute that foundation should look something like this
Does Your Dog Have Solid...
- 1Engagement: This simply means that your dog is paying attention to you. It doesn't matter how many commands your dog knows. If you cannot get their attention, if they habitually ignore and disregard you, preferring to engage with the environment instead, then they will not do those commands. The concept and process of building engagement is a topic that requires another blog which will be one of my future posts. But at the basis of it, working on this element involves ensuring that your dog understands all of the awesomeness is coming from you. You want to have taught your dog that you are more interesting and valuable than anything in the surrounding environment. This way, when you need their attention you will have it.
- 2Leash Pressure and Introduction of the Prong Collar: This is an essential concept and important tool for any dog to understand.Introduction of any type of training collar should a process that teaches pressure and release. Through the process, the dog is taught that awesome things happen when they move with the leash. The dog learns that they control what happens. They learn to release pressure and move towards the handler. Instead of digging in and pulling like a sled dog, or fighting the tension when being guided into the down position, big rewards occur when the allow themselves to be guided.
why can't I just PUT ON THE COLLAR AND gO?
This introduction process with the training collar also means that it is not a novel thing and ensures that when you do need to correct your dog, and you will, they understand and it is not the end of the world. Instead, it is just a correction. A communication they understand and respond to. This is an important and necessary concept. I will expand upon this topic and how to use it in a future blog
- 3Sit and Down: You want to ensure that your dog understands these behaviors. So that when you give the cue, they know what it means. At the very least you want them luring into a sit or down. You most definitely want to be sure that they will willingly be guided into the positions with leash pressure. Ideally you want them to fully understand the commands. This means, although you may not have completely faded the reward yet, if you say the command, with no treat visible, no body motion on your part, they understand and will perform the behavior. You also want to know know that will hold these positions until released. Check out our video on teaching your dog to stay.
- 4Come: You want to use the same metrics for this as Sit and Down. Check out our videos on Teaching your dog to Come.
- 5Place: Place is something we talk about a lot and one of the most useful commands you can teach your dog. In a home environment, with a companion dog, this single command concept can help you avoid or fix a multitude of the most common problems owners encounter. Before you introduce E collar training, You want to ensure that you have done the following with your dog in regards to teaching place: Lure onto place and into a down position using a treat. Associated the command “Place” with the action. Guiding on to place and into a down using leash pressure.
Rome wasn't Build in a Day
During a 4 week Board and Train with K9 Heights, the average dog is worked with for a week on all of these tasks and gains a solid level of on leash proficiency with these tasks before the E Collar is introduced. The time frame will be different for you.
Job, family, and the myriad things that make up your day will dictate how much time you have to work on these commands with your dog. Other factors include how consistent you are. How many training sessions and repetitions you can get in? Don’t be discouraged, but don’t slow roll it either.
Have fun with it! Stick to it! Time spent now training with your dog is the most valuable investment you can make for their future.