Extended Ecollar Training; How to Transition off the Ecollar
By Ron Dorazio
Although most people desire to remove the ecollar as soon as possible, sometimes it is best to have the dog continue to wear it indefinitely. In some cases I would recommend it. Dogs with aggressive natures (whether through fear, dominance, protection of territory, or whatever) should never be allowed to be out of control. They should never be permitted to growl or snap at anyone. The best way to control this behavior is to anticipate it and correct it immediately. And the ecollar gives you the ability to do so. It is best to err on the side of caution and safety.
In addition to naturally aggressive dogs (those who should wear the ecollar everyday) I also recommend using the ecollar whenever you take your dog out in public places without a leash (for a stroll down the street, to a park for a run, etc.). All dogs, regardless of temperament, should be under control at all times in public places. This can be accomplished by using a leash or an ecollar. The ecollar, of course, is much more preferable because it gives your dog a lot more freedom.
Most dogs will become "collar wise" to at least some extent. In other words, they will know to behave properly when the collar is on, but may act differently without it. This is very normal. Even dogs that are leash trained very well will act differently when the leash isn’t on. There is nothing unusual about this. To offer an analogy: most people act civilly and comply with the rule of law because they know what the consequences would be if they didn’t. If, however, government were to totally collapse, there is little doubt that lawlessness would prevail. The same is true with dogs. They must understand the rules and know that they have to obey them.
Even though, as I said, most dogs will become "collar wise" to some extent, it can be made worse by selective use of the collar. If, for instance, for the first few weeks of training the dog wears the collar on some days and not on others (erratic use) it wouldn't take long for him to realize that he doesn't have to obey your commands 100% of the time. My recommendation is to use the collar everyday until the dog is obeying on the first command every time. This is a key issue! Before the collar can be removed successfully, you must be getting first time compliance to your commands -- EVERY TIME!
But in the meantime, you still have an excellent way to control your dog -- simply leave his collar on. An ecollar isn't that different from a regular collar in that it is simply a tool for obedience. Regular collars offer control by allowing you to attach a leash. An ecollar does the same thing only with the advantages of doing it remotely, instantly, and from a distance. In other words, there is nothing wrong with leaving the collar on for as long as necessary. But by taking it off before the habit becomes automatic, the dog will probably remain collar wise.
The key is to use the ecollar everyday and to have the dog obey on the first command until it becomes habit.
The second key is to use the ecollar if you plan to take your dog somewhere (away from home) off leash. This is an excellent way to give your dog almost total freedom while still having the control you desire.
When I do demonstrations with my dog I go through our routine with the collar on. Then sometimes (depending on the conditions; e.g. no traffic) I take the collar off and go through it again. He is almost always just as good without the collar as he is with it. And oftentimes that is under severe distractions. The reason he does so well without the collar is that it has become habit for him to obey on the first command. That didn't happen by accident. But even so, since I love my dog and I always want to be in a position to keep him safe, he wears the ecollar whenever we are out in public. Although he has a very high degree of reliability even without the ecollar, I never want to risk that some unforeseen distraction could cause serious injury or worse.
One last thing. Do not forget to praise your dog a lot when he complies with your commands. Praise alone probably won't get the job done, but using the ecollar properly and offering a lot of praise will. You just have to work at being consistent. Always make sure your dog obeys, and always praise him for doing so.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call.
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