We were just advised to try the ecollar by our dog trainer after a few classes of trying other things. Our dog is dog aggressive/nervous/anxious around other dogs, and we originally started the class to get him around other dogs more and for some positive reinforcement training. We also started the training to curtail his jumping on people whenever someone would enter the house, because our grandparents would get knocked over if they entered. We do NILIF at home, taught him all the basic commands, etc, but we thought we wanted to try to nip a few other things in the butt that we couldn't sort out with just positive training. This is NOT to say, it would be impossible. We wanted some guidance on what to do, and this place had a "Totally Pitbull" course, and the classes were all about positive reinforcement.
Well, the first 2 classes, he was barking like crazy, his eyes were bloodshot, he was a wreck. We ended up having to exit and re-enter the place a bunch of times, exiting each time he would bark, praising if he did not bark. This was 45 minutes of the 2nd class, missed pretty much all of it! Believe me, the trainers tried to calm him down, stuffed kongs and treats wouldn't help. We were hopeful that after time and with practice at home, things would get better.
A classmate actually came up to us and spoke with us about the e-collar. She said she went through the same thing, and when she finally tried the e-collar, change came almost instantly. I'm sure they work better on some dogs, worse on others, and I'm also very sure that some people abuse the e-collar and do not use it properly, which is disappointing. We spoke to one of the trainers about the e-collar who said she has received a lot of criticism in the dog training community for adopting the e-collar as a training tool. I was very skeptical at first, mainly because of this thread
First of all, I must say I'm taken back a bit by all of the negative responses about the stim or shock, whatever you choose to call it. We have the Dogtra IQ, and there are 100 settings. We have not had to go above 40, and that was 1 time, and I have not used it on 40 again. The highest I go is 30, normal range is 20-22. When we felt the shock at first when trying to figure out if we wanted to use this, I was like really? That's all? I was under the impression it was a continuous electrical shock similar to a stun gun that paralyzed the poor dog's body for that time. Well, it was just about the vibrate setting on my phone around 20, and a little stronger of course when you went higher. But by no means was it painful. If anyone has had electric muscle therapy, it's just like that really. UNLESS of course you use it at a very high setting.
I have not even tried to see what it feels like past 40. If someone is using this thing at 80-100 and constantly pressing the thing when their dog doesn't sit on the first call, or doesn't do whatever they want their dog to do even if the dog doesn't understand... well that's abuse. But, that's not what we're doing with it.
Whenever we use the e-collar we use plenty of praise and give treats. I must say, I have never seen my dogs tail go in between his legs from a shock. His tail is just wagging, and he loves the praise he gets. The first time we used it with the trainer's dog, we were able to walk pretty close to it without him even barking or whining at the end of the session. Our focus was not to have Leo ignore dogs. We just did not want him lunging at them, or barking at them, you know. So we would stim that behavior, tell him to come, treat and praise him when he came, repeat. Kinda doing crazy walking while around other dogs.
At the end of the session, he would be glancing at the dog with no problem at all, and after, he would be checking in with us looking at us after he passed the dog like "LOOK! I didn't bark!". He got it immediately, it was pretty great to me. Could this have happened with 30 minutes of positive reinforcement training on our dog? I don't know. I was by no means looking for a quick fix, but Leo was loving the training, and was a lot LESS stressful because he wasn't going crazy around dogs, barking himself into a stupor, and having bloodshot eyes. He was never this good, ever this close to another dog.
The next session we were able to walk alongside the trainer's dog about 6 feet away, and Leo wasn't whining at all. He would just be sniffing around, minding his own business, just like the other pup. That session, we had to use the e-collar only a few times, as he would stay by our side most of the time, not wander off, and would always check in with us. He got plenty of treats and praise mostly.
The biggest test was the next group session with the other pitbulls, and he did great. We did not have to use the e-collar that must surprisingly, and at this time, we would call his name, and he would check in with us, since we used his name when using the e-collar.
Anyway, I could go on about how the e-collar has been a great training tool for us, and other things that have improved greatly, but I think I wrote enough. I just think that it's not right to judge all e-collar trainers/users and put them into the same category. There are ones who do not use them properly or stim WAY too high, and then there are people like us, who use commands with the stim, as well as treats and huge praise. The e-collar is just a training tool to us that has helped with a lot of issues. Trust me, if my dog was clearly sad and his tail was in between his legs when using this e-collar I would return it in a heartbeat.
To be honest, I find Cesar Milan's prong collar popping methods to be worse than the e-collar if used appropriately, and at a lower setting. That popping of the collar is by no means positive reinforcement, and I personally do not think I am harming my dog in any way by using the e-collar. Furthermore, not being rude here, just saying that I don't think anyone should be able to judge on whether or not my dog enjoys or dislikes the e-collar. To say it stresses a dog out after seeing how stressed my dog was around other dogs, and now seeing him lie down and take belly rubs around other dogs, makes me think otherwise.
The trainers are making a video of our progress, I'll post it once it completes. I'm not going to change minds here I know that, and I don't intend to. I just wanted to post my personal experience after being a long time hater of e-collars because quite frankly I have never encountered one or used one.
So if you have a response, please don't attack me, I'm open to discussing in a civil manner. But I won't respond to attacks saying I'm harming my dog and a horrible human being, because of how little we use the e-collar on a day to day basis, how positive the training is, and how happy Leo is, wagging his tail and eager to do tricks to please. Again, this is my experience, and I did not go fully into everything it has helped with. I'll post more if requested about my experience and the training we do. I love my dog, and I wouldn't dare cause any harm to him.