Archive for Monday, January 16, 2012

Dog instructor lauds electric collars in teaching obedience

January 16, 2012


Dog owner Linda Barrington, Baldwin City, left, stands as Melodie Brouhard, Lawrence, second from left, and her dog Middie walk by other dog owners and dogs as part of a Mutts and Manners training exercise Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.

Dog owner Linda Barrington, Baldwin City, left, stands as Melodie Brouhard, Lawrence, second from left, and her dog Middie walk by other dog owners and dogs as part of a Mutts and Manners training exercise Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.

Who knew the right collar could make a dog more polite?

Dogs in the training class, which is taught by Greg Lyon, wear electric collars that buzz like low-powered pagers. The collars vibrate for a short amount of time when a button on a remote control is pressed.

Dogs in the training class, which is taught by Greg Lyon, wear electric collars that buzz like low-powered pagers. The collars vibrate for a short amount of time when a button on a remote control is pressed.

Dog owner Jan Lewis, Lawrence, shares a handshake with a fellow owner’s dog in a Mutts and Manners training class, taught by Greg Lyon, on Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.

Dog owner Jan Lewis, Lawrence, shares a handshake with a fellow owner’s dog in a Mutts and Manners training class, taught by Greg Lyon, on Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.

That’s what Greg Lyon learned a few years ago, when he began using electronic collars to train dogs. He now holds classes using the collars as part of his Mutts and Manners dog training business.

“It’s a very nonconfrontational type training,” Lyon said.

While electronic collars might conjure up images of an animal being cruelly shocked, the collars feel like low-powered pagers, not live wires. When a button on a remote control is pressed, the collars buzz for a short amount of time. They are usually activated when an owner gives a command, as an extra signal to the dog.

“It’s not used for any kind of correction. It’s used to get the dog to pay attention, essentially,” Lyon said.

In decades past, choke chains and pinch collars were all the rage for dog training. But those collars lack consistency because a person will always pull on the collar slightly differently.

“The dog doesn’t understand if it’s not consistent,” Lyon said.

Lyon held an advanced class Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St., where dogs were challenged not to be distracted by each other and to listen to their owners. The dogs succeeded for the most part, though at the end one did make a break for the door. She came back after being called by her owner.

One of Lyon’s students said he had tried choke collars with his previous dog, but the electronic collar worked better. After about six months and a few 15-minute classes per week, he could take the dog on a walk without a leash.

“You can walk around with a dog that’s been trained on the collar and tap the button to change directions,” Lyon said. “It’s just like saying ‘come,’ but you don’t have to.”


RoeDapple 6 years, 3 months ago

The Mrs thought a shock collar would be just the thing for obedience training at our house. Whoowhee! Talk about getting me to walk the straight and narrow path! She finally ran the batteries down one afternoon so when she went to get new ones I pitched it into the back of a passing truck.

slvrntrt 6 years, 3 months ago

Cute article! It's nice to see stuff about dog training that isn't based on that outdated dominance theory in the media. :)

slvrntrt 6 years, 3 months ago

The article makes it seem like these are the ones that just vibrate, not shock. I read this article and understood that these were vibrating collars, am I right or wrong?

LJ World, please clarify.

If they are the shocking ones, these should not be used by basically anyone but professionals training hunting dogs, certainly not in an entry level obedience class and that's really not a cool thing to be promoting to the general public.

slvrntrt 6 years, 3 months ago

"Dogs in the training class, which is taught by Greg Lyon, wear electric collars that buzz like low-powered pagers. The collars vibrate for a short amount of time when a button on a remote control is pressed."

Everyone can calm down now. It's just a vibrating one, they're neat, useful tools for training, especially in deaf dogs.

parrothead8 6 years, 3 months ago

Anyone who thinks these are a very non-confrontational type of training has never worn one.

classclown 6 years, 3 months ago

Excellent! Now we can start using these to whip kids into shape. After all, they are safe and humane right. Just sending a positive signal and getting the little buggers to pay attention.

How soon can we equip the schools?

classclown 6 years, 3 months ago

Won't be long now til we have every child in Lawrence receiving the coveted "S".

Fedupwithrates 6 years, 3 months ago

Are you kidding me? Have you ever been shocked by one of those collars? No, didn't think so. They are not even close to painless. I'd never subject a dog to that. Shame on this instructor and article.

LadyJ 6 years, 3 months ago

Maybe you need to read the article, not just the headline. The collars beep and vibrate a little. They do not shock.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 3 months ago

Mistress Ilsa charges $50 extra for this jazz.

Corey Williams 6 years, 3 months ago

So that's where you spend your time? Good to know.

Jerri Johnson 6 years, 3 months ago

This article lauds the shock collar as THE WAY to train. This is BUNK pure and simple. It has been proven in scientific study over and over that there are more effective and humane ways to train. I would direct those in doubt to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's Position on Punishment No responsible behaviorist or trainer believes that shock collars should be the first choice in training. I would really like to see Greg Lyon's educations and training in the areas of animal science, and ethology. I encourage anyone wishing to train their dog to closely examine the qualifications and methods of the trainers they use. Irresponsible trainers can harm dogs and the relationships they have with people, the community and their environment. Ask your trainers what education they have, how much continuing education they receive each year and what certifications and affiliations they maintain.

This trainer says the shock collar is "not used for any kind of correction. It's used to get the dog to pay attention, essentially." When I want my dog's attention I say its name. I taught it to look at me initially by saying its name and giving it reinforcement for making eye contact. 12 years later, it works just fine. When I say "Fido", Fido expects something good to follow so she gives me her uninterrupted attention. Its simple humane and effective. No special equipment needed.

Corey Williams 6 years, 3 months ago

So it took 12 years? It only took Greg three sessions to get our dog to be as happy and well adjusted as she is now. Yep, she's Middie in the top picture.

Angela Heili 6 years, 3 months ago

No it didn't take 12 years. Justareader is saying that once he/she taught the dog it still works 12 years later.

Jerri Johnson 6 years, 3 months ago

Oh I might also add that its very irresponsible to print an article with only one side of a hotly debated argument. If the the Lawrence Journal World and the article's author new much about the current state of professional dog training, a one-sided article like this would never have passed the editor's desk.

Corey Williams 6 years, 3 months ago

If it's so "hotly debated", would you care to show when the last time it was discussed on these boards?

braeraphael 6 years, 3 months ago

What a load of crap. So the trainer went from using aversive, Choke/Prong collars and moved on up to a shock collar. WHICH mind you doesn't cause any pain. Then why bother? You can get a dog/puppy to pain attention to you or focus on you without having any kind of collar on it's neck.

But regardless... people who move from choke/prongs and find it not successful, and then move to shock indicates to me that they are using it as another aversive tool. Why bother training with a shock colar if it doesn't cause any pain at all? what's the point? And then what happens if the dog doesn't obey to the cue? do you keep buzzing the puppy? Do you turn it up a notch on the collar? Do you think the puppy/dog is being dominate, disobedient, stubborn? Does the trainer stop to think that maybe it's them? That maybe they aren't giving clear instructions? Or maybe the dog is having bad day or not feeling well?

What kind of bond do you create with your dog when you point a remote at it and tell it do something? Dogs aren't a TV where you point a remote to it and say "entertain me", they are living creatures that can be taught anything simply by working together.

Remote collar training teaches a dog to not think, only listen to me or else.

Jerri Johnson 6 years, 3 months ago

Your comments call to mind a quote I read...To use shock as an effective dog training method you will need: A thorough understanding of canine behavior. A thorough understanding of learning theory. Impeccable timing. And if you have those three things, you don't need a shock collar. --Author unknown

LadyJ 6 years, 3 months ago

"the collars feel like low-powered pagers, not live wires. When a button on a remote control is pressed, the collars buzz for a short amount of time." I'm not seeing anything that says the dogs are shocked.

Jerri Johnson 6 years, 3 months ago

Just to be clear and make sure I understand...If the there is no shock and only a buzz - is the buzz used as a a reinforcer or punisher?

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

Check LN's posts on the subject above.

According to him, there are a variety of settings, and the dogs are most definitely shocked.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years, 3 months ago

Shouldn't we use a more natural dog training method? Posturing, growls and fangs have kept packs in order for a long time. Oh, and a little tongue in cheek never hurts!~)

gatekeeper 6 years, 3 months ago

Good gawd people! Spend a few hours watching the Dog Whisperer, start to understand how dogs think and why they act the way they do and you won't need any of this cr*p. After watching his show, I applied his methods to my dog and he is awesome. Totally under control, even when off leash. I applied the same methods to my mom's crazy dog, same results. I watch people I know struggle with their dogs, but when I have them they behave because I am calm, assertive and the pack leader.

If you don't understand dogs and have to use something like this to have control, then you shouldn't have a dog. Too many people have preconceived ideas of dogs or try to treat them like they're people. They are dogs and will always act like dogs. So, learn how dogs think and socialize and you can have control.

It's all about being the pack leader. If you can't figure out how to be the leader, then you will never have control. Calm, assertive energy is all that's needed.

Shame on the LJW for printing a biased, ignorant story. Pretty typical for them though. I wonder who at the paper knows this guy and wanted to give him some free publicity?

slvrntrt 6 years, 3 months ago

Dominance theory is completely outdated. The Dog Whisperer has killed animals in his care with his techniques! You can watch him strangle dogs on his show.

Anyway, read this:

Angela Heili 6 years, 3 months ago

Nothing there.

I wonder if the dogs that display dominant behaviors know their communication and whole way of interacting in the pack is "outdated".

I've not heard any reports of Cesar Milan killing dogs with his techniques.

By the way. How long have you been working with and training dogs? I always like to collaborate with other trainers. Even though I've worked with and trained dogs, including hunting with them, showing and breeding, for over 25 years I always like to get different perspectives.

Joe Hyde 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm a firm believer in e-collars, especially for restricting the range of hunting dogs afield. My dog wears an e-collar on hunts and exercise walks, and although my unit can shock the dog I have the control dial set on "T" (for Tone). During hunts when my dog is searching cover for quail and pheasants I never want her to extend 40, 50, 60 yards or farther away from me, because if she does flush a bird it's out of gun range. I like her working inside 35 yards.

With the e-collar, when I press the control button the collar on her neck generates a quiet tone signal. She hears the tone, immediately stops what she's doing, turns and begins moving back toward me. I never have to yell at my dog, I never have to blow a whistle to get her attention. (Doing those things gives away your position to every wild bird in the vicinity.) Just the collar's quiet little tone signal does the trick.

My dog has very quickly learned that by monitoring my whereabouts every few seconds and busying herself searching the cover inside the operational radius I like, she gets sweet-talked a lot, she gets petted a lot, and she gets to find and retrieve birds. Those things are her payoff.

Contrast this to hunting dogs without e-collars. In their eagerness (or stubborn-ness) they will often run far ahead, ignoring their owner's voice commands as they race out 100 yards or farther, where they flush the birds before the guns have any chance to move into range. These dogs get yelled at and screamed at a lot, they get scolded once they finally return to the owner, and their very presence is often resented by others in a hunting party simply because the dog's uncontrolled range actually ruined the hunt.

Angela Heili 6 years, 3 months ago

That's exactly what e-collars were developed for. Distance work. What you've described is the ideal relationship between dog and handler.

motoadventure 6 years, 3 months ago

Sigh, gotta love the LJW comments section. Everybody's an expert, and the story is always one-sided! It's interesting, nobody claimed favoritism and free publicity when they spotlighted Dignified Doggies a few weeks ago.

When we were trying to get through to our humane society pup we toured all the trainers we could find. He was a runner, and was interested in squirrels and birds and big noisy trucks way more than listening to us. Inside the house he was pretty well trained -- step outside and it all changed. It culminated with him slipping out the door on Easter in the middle of Wichita, almost getting hit by cars as he crossed Douglas multiple times.

Of all the trainers we visited with, Greg was the one who stood out. He didn't give us the same old spiel, after our introduction to his style of training he had our pup paying attention to him immediately, walking nicely on a leash out front near the busy street, all using just the vibrate function of the collar (like the vibe of a cell phone).

It's amazing what having the attention of your dog will do. There's no 'zap' needed when they know you're watching and they are given clear expectations.

Thanks Greg, Odin's doing great and we're all happier than ever.

irvan moore 6 years, 3 months ago

my cocker spaniel was reading this thread over my shoulder and he said he'd rather have an i phone

bookgrrrl 6 years, 3 months ago

Before I would subject my dog to such aversive measures I would really like to know the trainer's credentials and professionally/educationally/scientifically backed rationales for this type of controversial behavior modification. Mr. Lyon's website gives no information as to his education, certifications, membership in any professional organizations, or any legitimately recognized dog training credentials or continuing ed. He simply advertises that "I’ve owned and trained dogs for several years, and made the decision in 2009 to follow this passion full time." This makes me very skeptical and I wonder how the majority of educated and professionally certified canine education professionals would view his methods. I would also like to see his human clients try some positive training methods with their dogs and realize that they can achieve the same, if not better results.

Corey Williams 6 years, 3 months ago

Three 2 hour sessions with Greg and Middie was better behaved than ever. You don't just start pushing buttons and expecting things to happen. You have to show them what you want before you can do anything else. And don't think we didn't try out the collar on ourselves before we put it on her. Eight settings on ours and at number two on the inside of a wrist or forearm and you can barely feel it. Considering how tough a dog's skin is, it's a wonder she can feel it.

Of course, everyone has an opinion. But if you don't like it, don't do it. Why not come down to watch one of the training sessions to see how "abused" these dogs are? Instead of running at the mouth about what you don't understand, learn up a little on it.

Angela Heili 6 years, 3 months ago

A dogs skin really isn't that tough. It's just that they have fur covering it which protects it from naturally occurring things. The longer and thicker the fur the more protected. You will notice that a lot of hunters will put vests on their dogs before a hunt. This is for protection in the thick brush because hunting dogs don't always have an adequate amount of fur on their chests and underbellies to protect against thorns and other sharp foliage.

Corey Williams 6 years, 3 months ago

Then how is it that dogs regularly nip and bite each other when they play rough? How is it that their mom can carry them in her mouth without puncturing the skin? Are the vests these hunting dogs wear orange? Maybe they put vests on their dogs for high visibility so that someone doesn't shoot them? You think?

Angela Heili 6 years, 3 months ago

If you'll read the post above, I mentioned that dogs have fur covering their skin which protects it. Sometimes they are double coated meaning they have an under coat and a top coat.

You will notice that a mother picks her babies up from the back of the neck. Where there is a lot of fur. They don't generally do that to the belly where there is little fur. When they play and nip, most of the contact is around the neck, head and shoulders.

Not all of the vests hunters put on their dogs are orange. There are plenty that are camo colored. The vest the lab wore when I went goose hunting was camo and thick enough to protect her chest when she ran through the brush to get to the geese in the water. Yes some of them are blaze orange and therefore are dual purposed for protection and visibility.

Also keep in mind that most hunting dogs aren't in the line of fire since the hunter is shooting the birds out of the air. Therefore, there is little chance of the dog being mistaken for a bird and shot. :-)

Breathe Corey. I'm not attacking you. No need to get testy.

boogiewoogie 6 years, 3 months ago

I am the owner of a 13 1/2 year old, very responsive and well behaved dog who has recently gone deaf. He has hardly ever had to be on a leash because he has always responded to my fairly subtle voice directions. As you can imagine we have encountered new challenges with his recent loss of hearing. He responds to hand signals, but I have to wait until he looks at me, which isn't always ideal. (FYI he always stops at street corners) Anyway, I have been looking for a remote control vibrating collar that would be convenient for use on walks etc. so that I can get his attention. The only ones I've been able to find are bulky on the collars, and the remotes are not practical to carry. I'm looking for something that's more like the size of a remote key than a walky-talky. Other models I have found have the shock option and a tone option, but no vibration. I'm not interested in the shock feature, and obviously the ones with the tone won't work. Do you have any recommendations?

motoadventure 6 years, 3 months ago

Greg's collars might fit the bill. The units themselves are pretty small and the remote is about the size of a garage door opener, and they would give you the vibrate function you're after.

slvrntrt 6 years, 3 months ago

Here you go, this site lists and summarizes the vibrating collars available today:

BradyandPipa 6 years, 3 months ago

Dogs are not human and do not respond like humans think they should. (they don't speak languages and can not read human thoughts) In order to train a dog with any success, you must first understand the way a dog thinks and socializes within the pack. As a good owner you must establish yourself as the alpha dog or you will have an out of control animal that is a harm to others and itself. The e collar training may not be for every dog, but for our dog Middie who is an intelligent cattle dog, it has been the best method we have found (and we tried many different ways) We started with giving a treat every time she followed a learned command, but she became more interested in the treat and would not focus on the task at hand. Praise is now her reward and she gets plenty of praise on a daily basis. Greg has taught us how to use the collar in tandem with the command so that the dog knows what is being asked of her. It is NEVER used as a negative reminder of something the dog does wrong. The best way to handle poor behavior is to distract the dog into something they should be doing and then praise that behavior. After 3 sessions with Greg and daily routine, we have not had to use the remote as a reminder for any commands given to her.

It is easy to judge something you have no clue about until you have tried it and know that it makes for a very happy, social, and relaxed companion.

And BTW- no one arranged this story to be in the paper. The paper was out scouting for events happening around town.

slvrntrt 6 years, 3 months ago

Dogs are not wolves and do not live in packs. I hope for your animal's sake you do some research and get dominance theory out of your head. It was outdated 20 years ago and then some guy on TV started doing it again.

Angela Heili 6 years, 3 months ago

Actually dogs do live in packs. Do some research on wild dogs and you'll see that they run in packs. There is an alpha or leader of that pack. Dogs posture all the time to establish who is going to be in charge or dominant.

Most people don't see dogs living in packs because we don't have packs of dogs living at home with us.

Now does being dominant mean you need to intimidate, beat or create fear in the dog? Absolutely not.

When you walk your dog down the street, who is in charge? You or the dog? Who is the dominant being in that scenario? There is one. I assure you.

Also do some research and you'll find that dogs evolved from the wolf. There are vestiges of the wolf throughout a dog's behavior.

I'll give you an example. The next time you watch a National Geographic special on wolves, watch what all the wolves do (pups included) to the Alpha wolves. They lick the wolves mouths. Each one licks the alpha's mouth.

I can assure you they are not french kissing. They are reinforcing that they understand who their leader is. What do dogs do to we humans? They ALWAYS go for the face and more specifically the mouth. Licking the mouth is the dogs way of showing that they recognize we are their leaders.

Obviously we don't like that so we tell them gently not to do that, but there it is.

Angela Heili 6 years, 3 months ago

There are lots of different training methods and tools out there. As a dog trainer myself I understand that not every dog will respond to one particular training method. Also there are different training methods for different people to understand. No one training method is wrong as long as it does no harm to the dog or the human.

E collars were originally developed to be used for long distance work with hunting dogs and like. Before that 20 and 30 foot lead lines were used. Some of what I've seen, people often use E-collars out of frustration because they lack the knowledge to make a connection with their dog and therefore punish the dog for not doing what the handler wants.

As Mr. Lyons said in the article, "The dog doesn't understand if it's not consistent." Consistency comes from the handler of the dog. If the handler isn't consistent it doesn't matter what tool is used (choke collar, prong collar, clicker, e collar, web collar, treats, head collars,etc) the outcome will be the same.

It's all about timing, being as consistent as possible (yes mistakes happen) and reinforcing the behavior you want. Knowing how a dog thinks doesn't hurt either. That's why we dog trainers are here. To help those who don't understand how a dog thinks.

When I work with my clients and their dogs, one of the things I tell them is, "You have to be more interesting than what the dog is interested in." Use something as a reward that the dog loves. Whether that be his favorite toy, or a small bit of hotdog use it to keep his attention.

Also important, as Mr. Lyons also seems to employ is not spending copious amounts of time training. 10-15 minutes a day is plenty for an adult dog. Less than that (5 minutes-10 minutes) for puppies. Their attention span just isn't long enough to handle 30 and 60 minutes of training.

If you do spend an hour training. Break it up into 10 minute sessions scattered over the hour. Give them breaks for rewards. And most importantly, make it fun!

The one thing I noticed that I'm not a fan of (even though it's a KU collar) is the placement of the e-collar in one of the pictures. It's directly on the throat. The windpipe. Not a good placement in my opinion. When the dog puts his head down the e-collar will put pressure on that windpipe. You never ever want anything putting pressure on that windpipe. Anytime I have used an e collar (on a bird dog) I placed it on the side of the neck.

My tool of choice is a gentle leader head collar for basic obedience work. The biggest reason is it doesn't put pressure on the throat.

You just have to be very careful with e-collars and the people that use them. As with any training tool (choke collars, prong collars, web collars, head collarsetc) it's the person using them that makes the biggest difference. In the hands of someone with anger issues, a lot of damage can be done.

slvrntrt 6 years, 3 months ago

I agree, basic obedience shouldn't require shock collars. For people needing more help try a gentle leader or an easy walk harness.

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