The Unpredictable Dog Cop

We’re all familiar with the concept of speeding. It’s a simple equation: We get a ticket when we speed. The ticket amount is directly proportional to how much over the speed limit we were. Speed limits are clearly posted, leaving no room for interpretation. Whether we agree with them or not is beside the point. They exist to maintain community safety. Many of us have pushed the boundaries of these rules in various ways, whether by saying we are ‘keeping up with the flow of traffic’ or consistently driving at 9 miles over, knowing that cops usually turn a blind eye to such minor infractions.

Now, let’s introduce a new concept into the scenario: unpredictability. What if the consequences of your actions were not always the same? Instead of a predictable ticket, you could find yourself with a warning one time and then, worse, hauled off to jail the next for the same infraction. Or imagine this: the Cop gets to decide the ticket fine each time, ranging from $5 to $5000, whatever his discretion is. Such an unpredictable correction would surely make us all think twice about breaking the rules.
We might finally have a community of law-abiding drivers on the road!

This unpredictability is also vital in dog training, mainly when using the electric collar.

Let’s apply that same concept to the Electric Collar in dog training. When dogs graduate from our Full Service Training Program, we have transition lessons with the owners, who choose for us to overlay off-leash training on adequately using the electric collar. We also tell the clients the range in which their dog best responds. (This range varies depending on how stimulating the environment is, the dog’s correction threshold, and what commands you are working on.) At this transition stage, the collar is more for a “safety net” or “invisible leash” on an already trained dog.

But now the dog goes home, and the testing begins! What tends to happen is the owner gets stuck on a number, and then the correction becomes predictable. (Remember that speeding analogy above?)

The dog now has a choice: is chasing the squirrel worth the predictable consequence? Is pulling to the park worth the level correction I know is coming? Most of the time, with rewarding endings, it is! The dog, just like the speeding humans, has learned to bend the rules in their favor.

So now what? I’m not suggesting extreme levels with your electric collar are the solution. Still, we are noticing that not altering levels leads to dogs becoming either desensitized to lower-level corrections or once sensitive dogs becoming more tolerant of the electric collar.

The most empowering way to avoid this is to know and understand your dog’s ranges with the electric.

Here is an example (Using a Mini Educator from E Collar Technologies): Your dog graduates training and you may only need a level 10-25 when your dog is not stimulated or aroused around the house or outback. When out at the park or when the dog is around distractions, you may need to escalate the correction between 25-40. Now, say the dog is off leash and interested in the squirrels playing when you command them to “Come.” The dog looks back at you but then turns and chases the prey. Knowing your ranges, you could start at a 25 in this context. If the dog doesn’t respond to the correction, don’t give it another level 25. Instead, escalate the correction to a 35. Then, when the dog reacts, turn the collar down to a 10. Practice the same scenario but know your ranges and have ‘unpredictableness’ in them.

*Remember, your dog always dictates the level of correction based on its response after it. If your dog consistently tests, you must go higher on the number. Make sure to distinguish your comfort levels with the E-collar from how your dog perceives the correction you’re giving; that is not the point of using the correction in the first place. We want the dog to refrain from tolerating and getting used to correction levels because you are more worried about the numbers than the intent. The E Collar is the tool that holds the dog accountable to the commands.

We are always here to support you and answer any questions after your dog graduates from our Full Service Training Program. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a reminder about your dog’s correction levels. Your dog’s continued success is our priority.