It’s Not the Collar

By Fred Hassen, Head Trainer "Sit Means Sit" Dog Training

There are three big questions that come up in dog obedience training with electronic collars: "How does the collar train my dog?", "How does the dog perform without the collar on?", and "Won’t my dog know when that collar is on, and when it’s not?" Let’s explore the answers to these and other questions about electric dog training collars.

How Does The Collar Train My Dog?
Well, the collar doesn’t train your dog- you do! The collar alone is not enough to ensure that your dog is trained. I prefer to make a "leash" analogy, so that the many people who are familiar with trying to train a dog on a leash can understand exactly what I mean by that. Let’s assume that you have a dog on a long leash and that you call the dog to you and get the dog moving toward you but then he stops moving. Even though the dog knows that a tug on the leash means to come, that knowledge alone is not going to guarantee that the dog will come very time you apply a leash tug. If there is enough distraction, it may take a few tugs, or even one hard tug to get them to pay attention to your command.

You have to work the dog through this problem. I doubt that you’d just blame the dog’s disobedience on the leash. The same is true with training with an electronic dog collar. Calm repetition and consistent use of the Sit Means Sit method bring you the results that you want. The first time you use the electronic collar your dog will not automatically be the obedient dog that you want, but with proper guidance from a professional, the electronic collar dog training method works quickly with terrific results.

There are many methods used by electronic dog collar trainers that use many different approaches to dog training. This fact alone makes it virtually impossible for people to say things like, "The collar causes this or that." There are many different leash trainers as well, and we all know that we can’t group one kind of raining with every other training method, just because they all use a leash as their main training tool. So much of dog training involves the approach of the individual trainer. The method used and the way that they teach is the most important part of any dog training. Sit Means Sit electronic collar dog training has been designed to be easily understood by both owners and their pets for fast training.

When you first begin training, dog collars can create a lot of different reactions, he can run, lay down, try to get away, jump up and down, or any other number of things other than the behavior you commanded. I’ll even go so far as to say that you will probably see the dog attempt one, some, or all of these maneuvers at some point in time. That doesn’t sound very encouraging, does it?

Back to my original point with the leash. You tug on the leash once and say ‘come’, but there are a few dogs around, your dog is distracted, and the dog decides not to come to you. Or we’ve all tried to place a dog in a sit, and had that dog try to scoot away. Trainers certainly don’t look at these behaviors and think, "Well, that leash doesn’t work" or "I’m never going to call ‘come’ or command ‘sit’ again." These same misbehaviors can and certainly do happen with an e-collar, just as they do with the leash. However, people educted with the Sit Means Sit method of dog training just know how to fix the misbehavior immediately, and teach the dog how to eliminate that option and come one step closer to performing the requested action.

I don’t think any leash trainer in his/her right mind will try to tell you that when you are training a dog to "sit" that the dog will never attempt anything else. I’d even go so far to say that a good trainer would tell you that the dog occasionally may not respond correctly next week, next month, or even next year. You must still see to it that the dog "sits" and constantly show the dog that sitting is the only response to your "sit" command. There are simply no guarantees that the dog isn’t going to forget and misbehave at some point, whether he "knows" the command or not. The electronic training dog collar is not a magic bullet for solving dog behavior problems. Owners must put in the work to train their dogs consistently, but when they do they achieve outstanding results.

The Sit Means Sit electronic collar method is effective for old dogs, puppies, teacup Yorkies and Great Danes! There are large and small dog training collars so that you can tailor your program to meet the needs of your dog.

Won’t my dog know when that collar is on, and when it’s not?
People would like to think that once they’ve trained their dog all they need to do is put the collar on for the dog to behave. However, that is not the way that dogs operate.

I like to relate a funny story from one of my clients. The client requested a "dummy collar" from me. Those of you not familiar with "dummy collars" (and incidentally, they are appropriately named), they look, feel, and weigh the same as a real e-collar. He wanted to use it in on his dog who was in the backyard so the dog wouldn’t dig while he was gone. He figured that he’d go to work and when the dog started to dig, the dog would think, "Whoops. I better not do that because my collar is on" — even though there was no reinforcement. I got a "dummy collar" for him, and a few weeks later asked him about it. I found his answer humorous, and very appropriate. He replied, "It’s not going very well. The dog knows it’s a dummy collar."

Dogs are smart and they know that if they have the collar on it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is paying attention.

Many handlers will put some type of choke chain or "fur saver" on the dog to signify to the dog that the dog is now "working." Despite what people may say, or try to convince you — that alone does not put the dog on an "automatic pilot." Dogs sometimes still don’t comply with the working chain on, and it’s being enforced!

A dog will not automatically behave in the way that you want just because he is wearing the e-collar. You must always be giving him direction and following it up with reinforcement when necessary. Over time your dog’s behavior will become more and more obedient, but they are a dog and no dog will ever be entirely perfect. It is our job as owners to take responsibility for our pet’s safety and behavior. I have always been influenced by the understanding that "reinforcement never ends." You should always be in a position to reinforce your rules. This is consistent with the old adage that a lot of us are familiar with: "Never give a command that you can’t enforce."

How does the dog perform without the collar on?
People ask me; Doesn’t the dog ever get trained, and not need the collar? No, there is never a point where the dog doesn’t need the collar. It is the same as a business manager who has to enforce the rules of the office with his employees – there is never a time that a business owner can just let employees fully manage themselves, there have to be rules and consequences or the whole business will collapse.

I advise that the remote electronic collar be worn whenever the dog leaves the house. You can’t control the outside environment, but you can control your dog. I would suggest that you call Sit Means Sit and ask if there are any seminars with their professional dog trainers scheduled in your area. A dog trainer would never advise a new client to just "go buy a leash" and expect them to figure out how to train their dog on their own. The e-collar is no different, it is a part of the training method, but only one part of the whole. Professional guidance will make all of the difference between a happy dog who obeys and an unmanageable pet.

Please consider attending a seminar by someone who knows what they are doing and can answer your questions. Get educated, and have a happy training session!

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