How to Train Your Dog to Obey with a Training Collar

Medium
2-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

A training collar, also referred to as an electronic or remote collar, can be a useful training tool to reinforce commands your dog knows, get your dogs attention if he has trouble focusing and is easily distracted, or keep your dog safe if he is engaging in dangerous behaviors, such as running out on a road or chasing other animals. 

In the past, training collars were limited in the ability to adjust the intensity of the electronic stimulus and were often referred to as shock collars, which gave them a negative reputation. Modern remote training collars feature a signal that can be used before electronic stimulation is applied, to alert the dog and act as a warning that a behavior such as 'stop' or 'sit and stay' is required before electronic stimulation will occur, and simulation itself is adjustable so that it can be tailored to each dog's minimum threshold for getting a response. If used correctly, training collars do not cause harm to your dog and can, in fact, result in less harm to the dog than if traditional negative reinforcement or punishment was used to stop or force a behavior. Also, if used to prevent a dangerous behavior such as running out into traffic, leaving the yard, or chasing livestock, it can be a life-saving device for a dog that cannot control his natural inclinations and may put himself in harm's way.

Defining Tasks

The advantage of a training collar is that your dog comes to associate the stimulus with the unwanted behavior he is engaged in. If your scent hound is not responding to verbal commands, ignoring his handler, signaling him and stimulating him to get attention becomes associated with not listening to his handler. A herding breed dog that will not stop harassing livestock and is stimulated when he chases animals, comes to associate the stimulus with the chasing behavior. This results in the behavior being suppressed even when the handler is not present, as the consequences are not associated with the handler, but with the activity. 

A training collar can be set to signal your dog and warn him that a correction is coming, allowing him to cease and correct behavior before receiving stimulation, which is a form of reinforcement, avoidance of a stimulus that is not delivered if the dog attends to commands or corrects their own behavior. This form of training can be very effective and is best used in conjunction with other training methods so that minimal stimulation is required. The stimulation delivered is adjustable, but is similar to a static electricity shock or can even be adjusted to provide a simple vibration to signal your dog and get attention. Training should be conducted at the lowest level of stimulation that elicits a response in your dog to be humane and effective, and to avoid negative side effects such as the development of aggression or anxiety, which can be associated with incorrect use.

Getting Started

Make sure you have a training collar that delivers a vibration only or an audible beep to warn your dog when stimulation is about to be delivered, to give your dog the opportunity to respond and avoid stimulation. It is suggested that you put the remote control for the collar in an inside or back pocket so your dog cannot see it.  You do not want your dog to associate you and the remote control with stimulation. Before training, figure out what the lowest setting is that will elicit a response from your dog and use the minimal setting. Whenever possible, use verbal or other directions to command your dog before using the training collar. Good obedience commands should be established prior to using the training collar and the collar should be used to reinforce commands or get attention for commands to be delivered, not as punishment for disobedience.

The Associate with Command Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Avoid negative association
Put the training collar on your dog, and play with your dog before commencing training so your dog does not develop a negative association with the collar. Keep sessions short, and stop when progress is achieved so as not to frustrate or overtax your dog.
Step
2
Establish command
Teach the command you want to reinforce first such as 'come' or 'sit-stay' using traditional methods, verbal commands and positive reinforcement such as treats.
Step
3
Activate collar for attention
When your dog fails to respond to a command he knows, such as 'come', when off leash, alert the dog with a warning signal, then provide the stimulus on the minimal setting. Just enough to get your dogs attention.
Step
4
Repeat command
When the dog hesitates due to stimulation, provide verbal or physical direction so the dog learns what to do to stop the stimulation. At first, a dog can be confused and not focus on the command so some assistance may be required.
Step
5
Provide positive reinforcement
When your dog attends to the command, provide positive reinforcement such as a treat along with ceasing training collar stimulation, which also provides reinforcement.
Recommend training method?

The Two Solutions Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Teach 'come' and 'stay'
Teach your dog obedience commands for 'come' and 'stay', using traditional methods.
Step
2
Acclimatize to collar
Put on the training collar and leave it on while training. Do not take it on and off so the dog only learns to obey when the collar is on.
Step
3
Associate stimulus with 'come'
Apply the training collar stimulation on lowest setting and say "come". As soon as the dog takes a step towards you turn off the stimulation.
Step
4
Associate stimulus with 'stay'
Apply the training collar and say "stay". As soon as your dog sits and stays, cease training collar stimulation.
Step
5
Establish
Repeat so that your dog learns that when stimulated if he comes or stays as instructed, the stimulation will stop. This allows you to use the collar to control unwanted behavior such as running or chasing while off-leash.
Recommend training method?

The Reinforcing 'Come' Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Use flexi leash
'Come' is usually the solution for unwanted behavior, be it to achieve off-leash control or remove your dog from a dangerous situation or unwanted behavior. Start by putting a flexi leash on your dog.
Step
2
Command 'come' and stimulus
When your dog reaches the end of the flexi leash, say “come”, and provide stimulation from the training collar.
Step
3
Guide dog
The dog may do several different things when stimulated. Ignore them and instead guide your dog toward you with the flexi leash.
Step
4
Reinforce 'come'
When the dog steps toward you on the leash, release the remote stimulation button, ceasing stimulus and providing positive reinforcement. If dog continues towards you, reward. If he hesitates, use stimulus and guide again. Repeat until the dog understands. Walk away from your dog. Call your dog and press the button as soon as your dog walks towards you to stay with you, release the stimulation button.
Step
5
Provide distractions
Have an assistant provide distractions, like another dog, throwing toys etc. Practice calling your dog and depressing the stimulus button until your dog ignores distractions and comes to you when called.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Torres
English bull terrier
6 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Torres
English bull terrier
6 Years

Torres is the white bull terrier. He has been peeing in the house when it rains, or when he just won’t go outside. He also pulls terribly on a walk

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
421 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christina, Does he use a doggie door? Or is let out into a fenced-in yard unaccompanied, or taken potty on a leash by you or someone else? There are a couple of ways to deal with the peeing in the house during rain. First, teach a "Go Potty" command. Every time you take him potty in general, command "Go Potty" and reward with a treat after he goes potty. If you normally don't go with him when he goes, you will need to go with him when he goes outside for a bit, until he learns the "Go Potty" command and will go quickly when you tell him to "Go Potty. Next, once he knows "Go Potty", when it's raining outside take him outside on a leash, tell him to "Go Potty" and walk him around slowly on a leash. Be prepared to get pretty wet during this - it could take a bit and persistence is key here! Don't let him come back inside until he goes potty. If he goes, praise enthusiastically, run him back inside where it's dry, then give treats. If he will not go after being outside in the rain for 45 minutes still, bring him back inside, put him in a crate, then try taking him back outside on a leash in thirty-minutes. After peeing outside during the rain several times and him seeing that he got to go back inside as soon as he did what you asked, he should figure out that the quickest way to get back inside is to go potty QUICKLY. Whenever it rains you will take to take him potty on a schedule though and not wait until he asks - he may never get to the point where he asks to go out, but he can learn to go potty out there when you take him and hold it in between potty trips while its raining. If the weather where you live has already gotten really cold (and during severe weather), you may not be able to do this until spring for safety reasons. If it's still warm enough (around 50 or above), then start right away so that he will be good at this before winter comes - at which point he needs to have learned that the quickest way to get back inside is to go potty quickly in the rain (not hold it until he is back inside and go then). A second option, is to also teach the "Go Potty" command but to set up a grass area somewhere out of the rain - like your garage or a covered patio. Use real grass for this. Look into real grass pads (not astroturf) and check out the article linked below on litter box training (and use a real grass pad set up somewhere covered instead of a litter box). I highly suggest setting up your real grass pad somewhere that moderately resembles outside still so pup doesn't start having accidents in the house - like your garage, patio, balcony, or a covered area you create outside. Real grass pad brands - also on Amazon: www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Training to use the grass pad: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Another thing that can help some dogs is weather protection. If pup dislikes the rain because they don't like being wet or its cold, a waterproof jacket that's cut so that it's still easy for pup to go potty while wearing it may help, but expect to still have to do some of the training mentioned above also at first. If pup is afraid of thunder, then work on desensitizing pup to the sound of it using thunder recordings on low volume paired with treats and lots of fun - gradually increase the volume as pup improves and seems unconcerned by the noise. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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