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How To Teach a Gun Dog the "Here" Command with an E-Collar

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November 17, 2009

How To Teach a Gun Dog the "Here" Command with an E-Collar

By David DiBenedetto

Recently, I wrote about buying my first e-collar. Afterward, many readers e-mailed to tell me that they were contemplating a similar purchase but were eager to hear how our first few weeks with the e-collar went. Here’s the report:

I purchased a Tritronics Sport Junior on the recommendation of a trainer. It’s a smaller unit (perfect for my dog), and is fairly idiot-proof (perfect for me). And after working with it for a few weeks I have to admit that often I wonder what took me so long to buy one. My first order of business (after testing the unit on myself) was to switch Pritch over from the Come command to Here.

Beyond the fact that Here carries better in the field and allows for a more forceful delivery, I had noticed Pritch beginning to ignore Come.

First, I determined the lowest level of stimulation, or nick, necessary to get Pritch’s attention. My unit has 7 levels, from ½ to 6. I started with ½, and Pritch was oblivious. Same result with level 1. At level 2 I noticed her lick her lips and give a slight shrug of the head, as if a bug had buzzed by her ear. That’s all I was looking for. You want to get the dog’s attention, not juice her.

We began by working on a short leash. I would command Here and give her a tug. I would then repeat and give her a nick immediately after the command. It’s important not to nick after every command. Mix it up.

We worked on this for a few lessons and then moved to the longer check cord. Again, I would let Pritch walk to the end of her check cord and then command Here. When Pritch was efficient at this we moved to off-leash work in the same fashion, introducing in distractions as necessary.

Honestly, the results were fantastic. And continue to be that way.

Comments (15)

Top Rated
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from lewdogg21 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Very interesting. I have a 9 month old Choco lab that I'm going to be using an e-collar to refine and stop a few bad habits from continuing. One is that sometimes she will take off to go "greet" other dogs. My concern with this behavior is 1) safety and 2) ruining the hunt. I don't want her taking off and potentially crossing a road or getting pounded by a non friendly dog. Also as we have progressed on our "pheasant hunts" (I live in surbubia but we have a plentiful population of wild birds we can practice on) I've noticed sometimes Roxy will make the decision to hunt on her own and get way too far out. I'd like to use the e-colar to notify her and let her know that yes Dad is still watching and you need to either return or get back in the acceptable range from me. Roxy is my wife and I's "Kid" so the last thing I want to do is punish her or light her up with the collar.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I would be concerned about how you introduce e-collar around other dogs.If it goes bad the dog could be more aggressive around all dogs,one type,one size or one sex.

What's your thoughts?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Most meet and greets in the field go without a hitch, before both dogs remember why their there.The puppies are the ones that want to play,do you blame them?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pinopolis wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I bought an e-collar months ago, but have been a bit apprehensive about using it. You just changed my mindset. Going to watch the instructional DVD tonight!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I think that an e-collar, in most cases, can simply speed up the training that could be accomplished with reglar discipline and patience. However, I said "most cases". How many times would I want my dog running up to greet another strange dog that could do some serious damage? Or how many times would I want my dog chasing a pheasant across a road before I could get the point across using personal discipline that this is unacceptable? But for simple stuff like "get back here," "heal" or "stay" I can get the job done fine the old fashioned way. And, I believe I can get it done more effectively in the long run. An e-collar is just another form of discipline and, frankly, I think guys who want the e-collar to be the fall guy for disciplining their dogs are missing the boat. The dog needs to know you are unhappy with certain behavior, not the collar. There's nothing wrong with this. The occassional dose of personally administered discipline will not change the way they feel about you as long as they continue to get lots of love and attention regularly and praise for doing things right. And, of course, discipline must be geared to the dog. Some are hardheaded as hell and others are so sensative that whipping them with a feather would break their spirit. I have been able to break my dogs of pursuing rabbits (luckily neither were particularly interested in deer) but it took a while. Sure didn't help when one of the guys I was hunting with shot and crippled a rabbit in front of them (not wise!). Never shoot at ANYTHING you don't want the dogs hunting. I would like to break my younger lab from chasing runner pheasants. Presently, this is only a problem if she sees them before they take off running. Perhaps I may need to pick up an e-collar. It's too confusing to try disciplining her after she's come back.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Ontario Honker- I agree with you. The E-collar should not be considered a crutch or viewed as a magic bullet. The only magic bullet is proper training...laying down the basics, letting the dog know when you're unhappy, etc. There's a reason I did wait until my pup was nearly a year old before I purchased an e-collar. But I have found it helpful. And it does help me "reach out and touch" when Pritch is out of discipline range.

Pinopolis-- Take it slow (and easy) and get some expert guidance if you feel uncomfortable. Good luck.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Ontario Honker
I'm with you here ,you should be able to get it done the with a short command,the tone of your voice or body language.I picked up the e-collar after I almost lost my dog.We where coming in from the field,him healing the whole way [he was 14 months then, we produced two pheasant and I just lost his checkcord in the field.I was feeling good about him] when we arrived at the lot he darted across it and toward the county road that runs along side the lot.Thank God the drive saw him,the tires screeched ,the car came to a stop just as his face and shoulders contacted the fender. He couldn't hear me or chose not to , either way I was going to get something that was going stop him dead in his tracks before he is dead in his tracks.And I should clarify my earlier statement I will nick my dog to deter a encounter but if I couldn't see it coming I wont nick him during there meet and greet.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sue Melus wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

The e-collar should never be used for discipline, but for making training corrections at a distance. When I say a correction, it should be correcting for an action that the dog has already learned, not one that you are just teaching it. They can be great for reinforcing the "here" or "come" command, but I certainly wouldn't focus on that, unless you want a bootlicker.

I think that Gearge Hickox has the best collar conditioning article out there. He first conditions dogs by using it along with a command like "kennel." One that the dog already knows. Then he moves on to whoa, heel and, to some extent, here.

Be wary of the training videos that come along with the products. I am definitely a fan of Tri-tronics, but I have to say that the video that they used to use was almost worthless. I'm not sure if they have updated it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from OTMBoykins wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

The e-collar is the most effective tool out there.
But remember this....the e-collar is an implement of force. Period.

It is not a "remote trainer". It teaches nothing.

With that said, I use mine daily. There is nothing that can make a correction so quickly (so the dog knows the infraction). Timing is everything.

When you use the collar, you must TEACH the dog the desired behavior befor you correct for it. Then you use the collar when the dog chooses not to comply. When the dog makes the wrong choice, it is is an obedience problem. Obedience infractions result in a correction (with a lead or collar).

Just remember, being the leader means that you are fair.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Taylor wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

The informatilon about the e-Collar is most interesting and useful, but can you tell us more about the retriever that is shown. It appears to be a magnificant example of my favorite breed, the Boykin Spaniel. During the 1980, I owned and hunted with several, but my favorite was Chocolate Soldier (Chock)whose body conformation was almost identical to the one shown in your photo. Since I retired and moved to Florida in 1992, I've lost contact with Boykin breeders and would like to reestablish this.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CarliusD0 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

This is just what I was looking for cause I just got a dog. And I need to start training now. Thanks for the tip

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackdawgz wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

If you want to train your dawg to quit retrieving entirely, use an e-collar. If you have a smart one who tries to communicate with you, you will find that there are many good reasons to not behave as a robot. Shock yo dawg at a time like this, and you are finished. Pritch is the goofiest looking dawg ever, next to Whygin Cork's Coot. Hope speed is not important.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Well .....I think it's another..."Happy Thanksgiving".....?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fetch wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

David, Did you follow the DVD that came with your Sport Junior or how did you learn the method you used to start Pritchard on the "Here" with the collar? I notice Sue said, "Be wary of the training videos that come along with the products. I am definitely a fan of Tri-tronics, but I have to say that the video that they used to use was almost worthless. I'm not sure if they have updated it." I know the Sport Junior DVD is brand new (Yes, it's definitely updated) and I wondered if you used it with Pritchard.

Fetch

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kevin45331 wrote 4 years 9 weeks ago

My experience with an e-collar was very positive with my first Setter. Dave your advice about trying the collar on yourself first is to me the most important step in the process. The object of the collar is not to knock the dog into the next county, but rather to give him a somewhat unpleasant reaction to an unwanted behavior. I do agree with Honker that most common disipline issues can and should be handled without the collar. There are situations however when they are extremley effective. I saw(through a garage window)my Setter digging holes in our fenced in backyard one day while she was wearing the collar. I gave her a slight nick and she backed away and looked curiously at the hole. She went back in a couple more times and recieved the same unpleasant experience each time. She finally walked away shaking her head and guess what? I never found another hole in the yard! She actually grew to love that collar because she associated it with going out to run and I only had to use it on the rare occasion. Used with simple common sense they can be very effective.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from lewdogg21 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Very interesting. I have a 9 month old Choco lab that I'm going to be using an e-collar to refine and stop a few bad habits from continuing. One is that sometimes she will take off to go "greet" other dogs. My concern with this behavior is 1) safety and 2) ruining the hunt. I don't want her taking off and potentially crossing a road or getting pounded by a non friendly dog. Also as we have progressed on our "pheasant hunts" (I live in surbubia but we have a plentiful population of wild birds we can practice on) I've noticed sometimes Roxy will make the decision to hunt on her own and get way too far out. I'd like to use the e-colar to notify her and let her know that yes Dad is still watching and you need to either return or get back in the acceptable range from me. Roxy is my wife and I's "Kid" so the last thing I want to do is punish her or light her up with the collar.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I would be concerned about how you introduce e-collar around other dogs.If it goes bad the dog could be more aggressive around all dogs,one type,one size or one sex.

What's your thoughts?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Most meet and greets in the field go without a hitch, before both dogs remember why their there.The puppies are the ones that want to play,do you blame them?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I think that an e-collar, in most cases, can simply speed up the training that could be accomplished with reglar discipline and patience. However, I said "most cases". How many times would I want my dog running up to greet another strange dog that could do some serious damage? Or how many times would I want my dog chasing a pheasant across a road before I could get the point across using personal discipline that this is unacceptable? But for simple stuff like "get back here," "heal" or "stay" I can get the job done fine the old fashioned way. And, I believe I can get it done more effectively in the long run. An e-collar is just another form of discipline and, frankly, I think guys who want the e-collar to be the fall guy for disciplining their dogs are missing the boat. The dog needs to know you are unhappy with certain behavior, not the collar. There's nothing wrong with this. The occassional dose of personally administered discipline will not change the way they feel about you as long as they continue to get lots of love and attention regularly and praise for doing things right. And, of course, discipline must be geared to the dog. Some are hardheaded as hell and others are so sensative that whipping them with a feather would break their spirit. I have been able to break my dogs of pursuing rabbits (luckily neither were particularly interested in deer) but it took a while. Sure didn't help when one of the guys I was hunting with shot and crippled a rabbit in front of them (not wise!). Never shoot at ANYTHING you don't want the dogs hunting. I would like to break my younger lab from chasing runner pheasants. Presently, this is only a problem if she sees them before they take off running. Perhaps I may need to pick up an e-collar. It's too confusing to try disciplining her after she's come back.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Ontario Honker- I agree with you. The E-collar should not be considered a crutch or viewed as a magic bullet. The only magic bullet is proper training...laying down the basics, letting the dog know when you're unhappy, etc. There's a reason I did wait until my pup was nearly a year old before I purchased an e-collar. But I have found it helpful. And it does help me "reach out and touch" when Pritch is out of discipline range.

Pinopolis-- Take it slow (and easy) and get some expert guidance if you feel uncomfortable. Good luck.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

Ontario Honker
I'm with you here ,you should be able to get it done the with a short command,the tone of your voice or body language.I picked up the e-collar after I almost lost my dog.We where coming in from the field,him healing the whole way [he was 14 months then, we produced two pheasant and I just lost his checkcord in the field.I was feeling good about him] when we arrived at the lot he darted across it and toward the county road that runs along side the lot.Thank God the drive saw him,the tires screeched ,the car came to a stop just as his face and shoulders contacted the fender. He couldn't hear me or chose not to , either way I was going to get something that was going stop him dead in his tracks before he is dead in his tracks.And I should clarify my earlier statement I will nick my dog to deter a encounter but if I couldn't see it coming I wont nick him during there meet and greet.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from OTMBoykins wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

The e-collar is the most effective tool out there.
But remember this....the e-collar is an implement of force. Period.

It is not a "remote trainer". It teaches nothing.

With that said, I use mine daily. There is nothing that can make a correction so quickly (so the dog knows the infraction). Timing is everything.

When you use the collar, you must TEACH the dog the desired behavior befor you correct for it. Then you use the collar when the dog chooses not to comply. When the dog makes the wrong choice, it is is an obedience problem. Obedience infractions result in a correction (with a lead or collar).

Just remember, being the leader means that you are fair.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pinopolis wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

I bought an e-collar months ago, but have been a bit apprehensive about using it. You just changed my mindset. Going to watch the instructional DVD tonight!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sue Melus wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

The e-collar should never be used for discipline, but for making training corrections at a distance. When I say a correction, it should be correcting for an action that the dog has already learned, not one that you are just teaching it. They can be great for reinforcing the "here" or "come" command, but I certainly wouldn't focus on that, unless you want a bootlicker.

I think that Gearge Hickox has the best collar conditioning article out there. He first conditions dogs by using it along with a command like "kennel." One that the dog already knows. Then he moves on to whoa, heel and, to some extent, here.

Be wary of the training videos that come along with the products. I am definitely a fan of Tri-tronics, but I have to say that the video that they used to use was almost worthless. I'm not sure if they have updated it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Taylor wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago

The informatilon about the e-Collar is most interesting and useful, but can you tell us more about the retriever that is shown. It appears to be a magnificant example of my favorite breed, the Boykin Spaniel. During the 1980, I owned and hunted with several, but my favorite was Chocolate Soldier (Chock)whose body conformation was almost identical to the one shown in your photo. Since I retired and moved to Florida in 1992, I've lost contact with Boykin breeders and would like to reestablish this.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CarliusD0 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

This is just what I was looking for cause I just got a dog. And I need to start training now. Thanks for the tip

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackdawgz wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

If you want to train your dawg to quit retrieving entirely, use an e-collar. If you have a smart one who tries to communicate with you, you will find that there are many good reasons to not behave as a robot. Shock yo dawg at a time like this, and you are finished. Pritch is the goofiest looking dawg ever, next to Whygin Cork's Coot. Hope speed is not important.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Well .....I think it's another..."Happy Thanksgiving".....?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fetch wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

David, Did you follow the DVD that came with your Sport Junior or how did you learn the method you used to start Pritchard on the "Here" with the collar? I notice Sue said, "Be wary of the training videos that come along with the products. I am definitely a fan of Tri-tronics, but I have to say that the video that they used to use was almost worthless. I'm not sure if they have updated it." I know the Sport Junior DVD is brand new (Yes, it's definitely updated) and I wondered if you used it with Pritchard.

Fetch

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kevin45331 wrote 4 years 9 weeks ago

My experience with an e-collar was very positive with my first Setter. Dave your advice about trying the collar on yourself first is to me the most important step in the process. The object of the collar is not to knock the dog into the next county, but rather to give him a somewhat unpleasant reaction to an unwanted behavior. I do agree with Honker that most common disipline issues can and should be handled without the collar. There are situations however when they are extremley effective. I saw(through a garage window)my Setter digging holes in our fenced in backyard one day while she was wearing the collar. I gave her a slight nick and she backed away and looked curiously at the hole. She went back in a couple more times and recieved the same unpleasant experience each time. She finally walked away shaking her head and guess what? I never found another hole in the yard! She actually grew to love that collar because she associated it with going out to run and I only had to use it on the rare occasion. Used with simple common sense they can be very effective.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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