Blog 4: “You Must” and Training Tools
At this point in a competition dog’s life, the dog understands commands without treats and is willing and happy to perform. This is the point where the trainer thinks the dog is fantastic and can do absolutely no wrong. It’s almost like a honeymoon phase. It’s all butterflies and rainbows until the dog decides to do something he or she wants to do instead of performing the command. This is when other tactics must be employed.
From this point on, commands have to be “proofed.” Proofing happens in a number of ways, many of which do involve various training tools. Proofing builds barriers so the dogs understand exactly which routes to take as well as what is allowable and what is not. Dogs become happier and healthier when they have great reinforcement, thus making proofing an incredible time in the dog’s life.
The first training tool I utilize is the prong or pinch collar. It’s a metal collar with paired points around the entire collar with a drawstring-type pull and a ring to connect the lead. This can be put on a dead ring or live ring. The dead ring will not allow for a proper human-made correction, but it allows the dog to correct itself. The live ring will allow for a correction with a swift pop. This can be used to give the dog boundaries and start to introduce the world of right and wrong.
The second training tool I utilize is the electronic collar (or e-collar). An e-collar uses static shock, sounds, and vibrate functions. These functions can be paired together to teach the dog that a beep is the wrong answer or that it means to come back to his or her person. This collar is used for fine tuning and off-lead work. It allows the dog to work at a distance while still being under control. It teaches the dog to add speed to its commands. It teaches the dog to look toward the handler instead of doing its own routine. It teaches the dog to respect boundaries such as fences it can easily clear. While many people find this to be an inhumane training tool, many trainers utilize it for its correct purpose, thus allowing the dog an entirely new degree of freedom.
Now, these training tools are definitely used on dogs who are a little bit older; they aren’t usually for puppies. We will get into young adult to adult dog training next…