Back in April I wrote the blog When treats are not enough. Which was about how I had changed my view to using e-collars and funnily the day after I published that blog someone who has one of our pups that is now over 2 years old contacted me saying, "your post on e-collars was very timely. After a year of gundog training and lots of progress in lots of areas, The recall is still awful and it's got to the point where it is too dangerous to let the dog off lead. The dog has ended up in roads and running around car parks and I just can't risk the consequences. I don't think a dog has the same quality of life being on a lead all the time and we all find it frustrating so I have made the decision to try an e-collar with the help of my dog trainer tomorrow.
I've been feeling ever so guilty about it but I hope it might work where everything else has failed. According to my trainer - and others I've spoken to - in most cases you only have to use the actual shock function once or twice before the "beep" function or simply having the collar on is enough of a deterrent. I hope this is the case. Quite simply though I know treats and distraction are not enough and - if it is not successful- at least I will have tried and will know that a lead will be a requirement for the foreseeable future."
I emailed them back with support and they replied telling me a bit about the trainer they were now using and the trainer they had stopped using, "I've been seeing a new trainer since Christmas and he is great - very level headed, calm and measured. I'd previously been seeing a completely neurotic woman who was inconsistent, made me cry most lessons as she'd tell me the dog was hopeless and I should re-home the dog but would then obsess about the dog joining her gundog display team! Finding the new trainer has been a blessing and the dog is now whistle-trained, proofed from chasing sheep, rabbits and other dogs and overall really great - until the dog decides to bugger off and then there's very little I can do. He only uses e-collars as a last resort but thinks it could work well with my dog as the dog is smart, pick up on things quickly but is very willful."
Note the solution by the positive "neurotic" trainer was to re-home the dog. Give someone else the problem. Thankfully they did not take her advice and found a different trainer. I have been asked to keep the person and the dog's anonymity, as they said when recently sending me the review of the e-collar, "I've written a review of the collars, which I'll paste below. I'm afraid I've been a bit of a wuss and done it anonymously as I've heard of other people getting visits from the RSPCA when they have written things about e-collars or anything other than positive reinforcement training. I know it's very unlikely to happen, but I thought we could still get a helpful message across without putting my name or exact details. I hope that's ok."
Off course it was okay to not publish their name, I totally understand and just goes to show the ignorance out there surrounding the use of e-collars that someone would be visited by the RSPCA for writing about e-collars. Yes, e-collars can be misused, but I wear steal tipped toe capped boots and more dogs get violently assaulted by steal toe capped boots than get physically and mentally damaged by misuse of e-collars. We don't seem to have a problem with electric being used to teach horses, cows, pigs, chicken etc to stay within a certain area and believe me, you get zapped by electric fencing containing cattle etc you will know about it, but use it to stop dangerous behaviour in a dog. The world and it's wife is up in arms, when the majority have no experience of even training dogs.
Well, any way finally here is the first hand account of using an e-collar with a dog with recall problems.
"To give you some background, we got a puppy from Jane having previously owned dogs and wanting to give our children the same experience of growing up with a much-loved family pet. Initially training went well and the new addition was soon toilet trained, knew basic commands and had relatively good recall. However, around the six-seven month point that all began to change and she was soon showing a real hunting drive, running off at real speed and disappearing for increasingly long periods of time. Walks became stressful, but I hoped that perhaps she’d grow out of running off as she got older and moved out of the adolescent phase. I was wrong.
Thank you for writing this for me and for the naysayers just read the bit about how the dog reacts when she knows she is going to have the e-collar on, "She isn’t stressed or fearful and gets excited when I put the collar on her as she knows it means we’re going to go for a nice walk."
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you,but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
― Samuel Butler
Me (Jane) with Puddin' and Teagol, waiting patiently to flush a patch of kale, December 2019
Hello, I am Jane!