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February 23, 2016

How A Collar Freed A Dog

It’s been a full year since my brother adopted Doc. Doc and James have come so far in the past year. The anxious dog we first met is now a happy and loving pup. James loves Doc and Doc loves James. Despite how far James and Doc have come
It’s been a full year since my brother adopted Doc. Doc and James have come so far in the past year. The anxious dog we first met is now a happy and loving pup. James loves Doc and Doc loves James. Despite how far James and Doc have come in their relationship and training, there was still one major behavioral issue with Doc – off-leash recall. Doc doesn’t run away, but he does have wanderlust, so we were only ever able to take him off-leash when there was plenty of space. The few times we took Doc to the beach, James and I had to lace up and chase Doc down. In the past year we tried every positive-reinforcement recall method, but Doc was entirely unresponsive. When he’s off-leash it’s like he’s in his own world. With some trepidation, James bought an e-collar as a last resort. We tested the collar out on ourselves and decided the lowest setting was plenty enough vibration to get Doc’s attention. The transformation was like magic. Doc must have been trained with an e-collar because James never even needed to use the lowest power setting. Just the “beep” in Doc’s ear would bring him back into a perfect heel. On a cold day last week, we decided to put the collar to its first real test at the beach. Montrose Dog Beach, German Shorthaired Pointer, Chicago, blog

Once off-leash, Doc took a quick look at his surrounds. Then…

Montrose Dog Beach, German Shorthaired Pointer, Chicago, blog

He led the pack in a wild rumpus 

Montrose Dog Beach, German Shorthaired Pointer, Chicago, blog

Seeing Doc run free was such a joy

Montrose Dog Beach, German Shorthaired Pointer, Chicago, blog

Doc ran with unbridled joy. When Doc inevitably dashed toward the porous edge of the fence, my brother sent a beep to Doc’s ear

Montrose Dog Beach, German Shorthaired Pointer, Chicago, blog

The message was received loud and clear. Doc turned around and made a beeline for my brother

Montrose Dog Beach, German Shorthaired Pointer, Chicago, blog

Doc was a perfect angel! My brother is also working the positive reinforcement angle by giving Doc high-value treats each time he returns at the sound of the beep

Now instead of having to settle for smaller parks, Doc can join us any time for beach jaunts. He’s a free pup! And we’re free of worrying about Doc making a break for it

Montrose Dog Beach, German Shorthaired Pointer, Chicago, blog

Of course, being a free pup means you have Penny (sometimes literally) chewing your ear. But I think Doc is quite happy with the tradeoff

I enthusiastically endorse positive-reinforcement training, and I’m certainly no professional trainer/behaviorist. That said, despite our serious reservations, the e-collar has been an invaluable tool for Doc. The collar is the one thing that set him free.

Doc’s come so far in the past year, and I’m happy to report he’ll now be going even further than ever before as he tears up the sand with Eko and Penny.

Comments for How A Collar Freed A Dog

  1. I’m glad it worked for Doc… it’s great to see him together like wild troika :o)

  2. Emmadog says:

    That’s awesome! He may have had an electric fence or something with the beep too. I guess we will never know since it doesn’t sound like he is going to tell, but that’s great he has his freedom!

  3. Pat says:

    Happy anniversary to James and Doc! Sounds like a match made in heaven. Wonderful to hear that Doc has some new freedom. It’s such a joy to see them run. 🙂

  4. meANXIETYme says:

    Every dog is an individual and sometimes we have to work outside our comfort zone to help that individual dog. I don’t like the idea of e-collars, but we ended up using one (on the lowest buzz) for Butthead to work on her recall/attention getting. We didn’t have to do it forever, we just used it to help her learn with positive reinforcement. We haven’t had to use the e-collar in more than a year, as we were able to (over time) transfer the buzz-recall to voice recall.
    When we got Sweet Pea back in the day, neither my husband nor I had any experience with crate training even though we’d both grown up with dogs all our lives. But circumstances and Sweet Pea required crate training. I was horrified at first–and my family was, too–but Sweet Pea taught us that different dogs need different things. And Sweet Pea taught us that some dogs LOVE crates…she used her crate all her life with us as her den/sleeping area. After less than a year of crate training, she slept in there the rest of her life with the door open. We didn’t need crate training with Le Moo, but we did with Butthead. And Butthead, like Sweet Pea, uses her crate for sleeping and comfort all the time.
    I loved the pictures of Doc unleashed…literally. It was a beautiful thing!

  5. fredrieka says:

    I run 30 miles an hour when Momwithoutpaws brought me home she used the E collar– I now listen without it, recall, it took near a year on the e-collar. Hey all they have to do is show me the remote for the TV I lay down. IF it is used with love there is nothing wrong with it.. Hugs licks and kiss’s Kudos for finding a resolution

  6. Kismet says:

    When you get a pup that isn’t a pup anymore you don’t know what they’ve been trhrough. Kali somehow found her way into a kill shelter and was on the list when rescued. She didn’t need doggie door training, she was out five minutes after coming to the house all by herself.

  7. coastingnz says:

    Seeing Doc off leash brings tears to my eyes – yes again, good grief! lol. I could hug your brother to death for the joy he has brought that pup but I suspect Doc gives plenty of loving on my behalf as that feeling is mutual. No tears tomorrow please……..

  8. I’ve considered trying that with Jack because he is like Doc – major wanderlust. Haven’t gotten over the worry about harming him yet.

  9. Shalini says:

    Very cool! Happy the boy is free 🙂

  10. fran godwin says:

    Doc is beautiful like eko n penny.

  11. Yay, Doc! What a smart learner and a good boy! And what a brave daddy and uncle trying out the collar first on themselves…. Yikes!

    Love and licks,

  12. I know how James feels. Once Khoi scents something, he is so focused he doesn’t even hear the dinner bell. Neeka will come trotting back with that “I’m a good girl” look, but not her fiendish brother. He’s experienced the collar before when he went through rattlesnake avoidance training and responded very quickly (after jumping 5 feet in the air). I’ve tossed around the E Collar idea, but haven’t pulled the trigger. I think you may have just convinced me.

  13. Doc proves that e-collars have their place. So wonderful to see them rampaging along the beach! Ours no doubt would benefit from such training but the only place they have perfect recall is on the beach, go figure!

  14. Jesse says:

    Excellent pictures and glad you all found something that works. I tend to shy away from the E collars but I guess in some situations they are warranted. Is Doc a Pointer? If so that might explain his wanderlust. As always a pleasure viewing and reading your blog.

  15. Used properly they are an invaluable tool. So happy Doc can have more freedom safely.

  16. Ogee says:

    We took in seven former hunting dogs early last year – all trained on e-collars. All but one (including the deaf one!) quickly learned recall using positive reinforcement, but I wonder now if we should not have put our aversion aside and tested the e-collar to help the last one over her hurdles sooner. Special situations demand special approaches…as Doc’s running free proves.

  17. What good fortune that he responds to the beep and not the pulse setting. Happy trails on the wide open range or dog park. 😉

  18. Thank you for this post! So many people have a misconception about ecollars and think they are cruel, they are a tool when used properly and look now doc can go have fun and not have to be leashed and looking on from by your side. Good going!

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