Sunday, September 2, 2007

vizslas in action

Just a quick video from this afternoon's walk. If there is something I love about Vizslas it's the happiness in their eyes when a) they can run free outdoors and b) do something to please you.

Incidentally, while it won't be turned on for a couple of weeks, Jozsi is wearing his disco-red e-collar for the first time to get him used to it. I think he's actually got the self-confidence and strength of personality now at 16wks to understand it as a reminder tool and not get freaked out by either the tone signal or the lightest stimulation setting. But there's no need to rush things.

With two dogs now, we had to get a 2-dog unit. The nice thing that Tritronics did in the last two years was make their G2 system expandable, so you could add additional dogs as needed (generally up to three dogs, total). So we were able to use the collar from our previous TT unit and also decided to upgrade range and sensitivity of stimulation options. I'll keep folks posted on the particulars of this unit as we get used to it.

I won't beat around the bush: it is a shock collar -- 'stimulation' = shock -- but the lightest shock option feels like a very mild ripple when I shocked myself to test the unit. It's a tool -- and like any tool, it can be used properly or it can be used improperly. It's the difference between allowing Momo and Jozsi to run free virtually the entire time and only allowing them to run in enclosed spaces -- which seems to defeat part of the pleasure of having any dog. I use one to extend their range and reliability and to jog their memories if they get mesmerised by a flushing bird (or a pile of poop).

The Wikipedia article I linked to presents itself as balanced science -- and for the most part it is. The only thing I would take issue with is the closing statement: "Regardless of the disputes about the quality of some of the research into the effects of shock collars, the conclusion has to be that they do have the potential to do harm, especially when used incorrectly, and that there is no scientific evidence to support the proponents of these devices." My only skepticism about this statement would lie in the question as to why there are only scientific studies exploring the potentially negative effects of e-collars in training -- presumably because the proof of its positive training benefits can be found in many dogs.


Anonymous said...

I have a Choco Lab (1yr) and a German Shorthair Pointer (2yr) and I hunt. I use the TriTronics Pro 200 G2 EXP+. I will say that ecollars are an EXTREMELY useful tool if used properly. Yes it is negative reinforcement but teaching MUST be done in a positive enviornment (this is key). Proper collar conditioning MUST happen first before ever turning the thing on. Todays "shock collars" are humane, safe, and hi-tech. The yesteryear collar was crude and unpredictible and well, shocked the heck out of the dog (circa 1982 I remember). I've been using them since the 90's. Its safer than using a choke chain or prong. If anyone out there wants to use this tool you must find a "real" trainer that has experience with the ecollar or buy a few DVDs on the instruction (Mike Lardy Total Ecollar conditioning is one of the best). You have to use this tool correctly or you might have a problem. Lots of people (pet only dogs) frown upon this shock collar. Some are hypocrites as they use an Invisible Fence and then tell me "I'll never shock my dog!" or one time I dragged my GSP into Petco (never again) to pick up a toy and was confronted by a girl who wanted to start a fight because my dog wore an ecollar! Or when I went to the dog park and a bunch of ladies ganged up on me and said that it is cruel and I was not a good dog owner for using such a thing. They didn't even want me to explain the theory or concepts on the collar, they were more into hearing their own voices and shouting at me and putting me down. When I left the park they all clapped. Hey this is how I train my dogs, I love them and I know how to use this tool properly. So all those ecollar haters can ... ;)

Andrew Campbell said...


Thanks for the post. I share your opinions... the only one I would clarify or modify is that the e-collar is a final tool for me (ie. something I use once I've used other techniques/tools like a check-cord, for example).

I am nervous about trainers who immediately start a dog with an e-collar, even if the dog has reached a reasonable age to deal with some negative reinforcement. It's the same way I feel about trainers who believe the only way to teach a dog to retrieve is to force-break them. In my opinion, both approaches show a lack of imagination, certainly less imagination than our dogs.

By the way, we have the same training unit.