The topic for today is: “Don’t do that with your remote collar!”
In today’s session, I had an opportunity to work with two different dogs using quality remote collars.
By the way, the two remote collars we were using on these particular dogs were not the ones that I generally use.
Some of you guys who are new here may not approve of the use of remote collars. And you know what? I get that! For the longest time, I actually didn’t use remote collars, but then I started to learn about them and how they could help particular dogs with certain problems. For the most part, my method still is to fundamentally reward the dog for doing what we want them to do and use their genetics to help them express themselves and become everything they can be.
However, sometimes the remote collar can be useful to give information. It can be useful to get a dog to stop doing a really entrenched behavior and can put the dog at risk.
Don’t Do This
Let’s talk about some things that you shouldn’t do with a remote collar. The first thing that you shouldn’t do with a remote collar is find the least expensive one that you can strap on your dog, turn up the volume all the way and press the button. Don’t do that! Nobody who uses remote collars professionally to help dogs would do that. If you know a trainer who is, run in the other direction!
Most trainers are much more nuanced with the remote collar. Just because it’s nuanced doesn’t mean that there’s not a method to the way we use them. When I look at remote collars, I’m looking at the quality of the ones that I’m going to consider putting on a dog—the price range for the ones that I would even consider starts at about $200.00. I’m not saying there are no quality ones below that price point, but I sure haven’t been able to find any. If you’re going to do remote collar training, don’t skip on the quality of the collar because it really makes a big difference.
One of the things that I’ve noticed about cheaper remote collars is that the electronics are terrible. We want the dog to feel the smallest amount of stimulation to get their attention. Sometimes with really cheap collars, I’ll put them in my hand. I’ll turn it on to level one, and it’ll be equal to 50% of what my remote collar does.
What I Recommend
Now that I have talked about the downfalls of cheap remote collars and what not to do let me discuss what I recommend. When I put a remote collar on a dog, it’s usually after I have taught them a skill, for example, a place stay on their bed. I make sure the collar fits well and makes good contact with the dog. Then I find the lowest possible level that the dog can feel on my particular remote collar. There are quite a few levels, which allows me to move incrementally from one level to the other. I find that the lowest number is typically somewhere between level three and level seven. Then I press and hold that button.
When I can tell that the dog can feel it, I tell them to go to their bed. As soon as they get on the bed, I release the pressure; remember, it’s very mild at this point. A human wouldn’t be able to feel it. Then I praise the dog and feed some of their favorite treats. We then repeat the process. I want to show the dog; when you feel this very gentle sensation, I’m going to talk to you. If you do the thing that I ask of you, which you already learned to do, that sensation will go away. Then I’m going to reward you.
I show the dog over and over again until they really understand what that touch means.
If your dog doesn’t need a remote collar, then be happy! You’re blessed! Some dogs do need it, and it’s an expensive training tool. However, it’s an effective tool when used in an ethical, humane, and safe way.