Shock collar for counter surfing? - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-26-2017, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Shock collar for counter surfing?

Has anyone here in this forum had luck removing the issue of counter surfing by using a shock collar? My girl gets off the counters or kitchen table when we say "uh uh" but still does it anyways. We plan to place a mirror in the room so that even when we are "gone", she will get a shock when she jumps onto the counter or table.
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post #2 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-26-2017, 08:55 PM
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Big question is why not a common sense approach first before you start "shocking" your dog? (which I don't have a problem with when it comes to animals who are untrainable jerks - like my cat jumping on my dresser and knocking my earrings and other stuff on the floor every single chance he gets - if they make zap collars for cats, I'm on that - although, I do suspect that a collar that squirts water on my cat's head would work just as well )....

Seriously though.

1. When you are not home - your dog does not get free reign of the house.

2. Clean up the kitchen. Don't leave food items out in the dog's reach.

3. Your dog is not trained. Recognize that your "uh uh" means nothing to your dog, because odds are you have not loaded a correction behind those words.

When doing "leave it" training - you want to have a correction behind the word "No" or "leave it".

If you are a "positive-submissive" type of trainer, this usually means you going "uhuh" and pulling the dog away with you in a different direction. Being pulled away is a benign form of the leash correction.

If you are going for a more direct correction, I would simply do a pop correction with the leash any time your dog goes towards something that he should not have which is in his reach. This verbal "NO" + pop correction should be timed correctly so the dog connects the word "NO" with a correction. This is not a "punishment" - it is an interruption to whatever the dog doing. And might add, could save the dog's life or avoid disaster, depending on the situation.

I'll give you an example.

I was at a dog show last weekend and after doing all the conformation stuff (my dog won, btw), I took him off leash to do some training to reinforce something I'm working through before showing him in obedience again. This is basically practicing "recalls" with my dog getting a verbal command or a signal to drop into a down about halfway to me.

I was mindless enough to set my dog up so that we were using a sidewalk outside an entrance into a grooming barn.

This meant that at one point, I had told my dog to "come" and he was coming... and at that same moment, somebody came out with a pack of aussies.

My dog is trained so that "leave it" also includes other dogs. So I was quickly able to throw out a "STAY" command followed with a "LEAVE IT" while all these dogs passed.

The handler did not see me immediately and actually turned and came towards my dog, with her dogs bounding around mine who was frozen in a stay with his eyes locked on me while I rushed in.

All this took place in a very brief second or two and having a good "leave it" command was something that was a huge deal. Aussies aren't technically mean dogs, but there are some out there who can't handle a larger dog coming into their space.

^^ That's a pretty drastic example.

More common examples would be the ability to leave a plate of food on a low cocktail table, with dogs underfoot and in the room while you dot back and forth between the living room and the kitchen. The dogs should be trained not to touch food if it's on a table.

My guys learn that if they ignore the food while I'm eating or while it's still up on the table, I will put it down on the floor for them at a certain point and tell them "OK".

Another common sense example, would be if you drop something like corn cob or a piece of meat with a bone on it or something that the dogs would normally wolf down and injure themselves.... the dogs should have a loaded "leave it" command that they respect.

Bottom line, what I'm telling you is instead of training your dog to be afraid of your counter because it apparently hurts to jump on it....

You could be training a rock solid "leave it".

Some people do this with zap collars, but you don't need them to train your dog.

You do need to have good timing and be on the ball as far as whatever you do... load a good verbal correction.

You don't have to "hurt" your dog with corrections. They don't have to be really macho or mean. But you can't be waffly and wimpy with these dogs if you want a correction to mean anything.

Also. If you tell your dog "NO" for any reason, you need to follow through and be consistent.

Most people out there go to classes, learn all the corrections and stuff... and use them 1/2 the time. But they are all over the place with corrections and rewards. Means they are actually mindlessly rewarding the dogs when they are wrong... and constantly correcting the dogs so the dogs are just blowing them off.

Even pop corrections when the timing is off... become things the dogs blow off if the communication/timing isn't spot on.

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post #3 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-26-2017, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Megora View Post
Even pop corrections when the timing is off... become things the dogs blow off if the communication/timing isn't spot on.
This! One easy way to make sure your timing is right for the counter surfing is to put your dog on a leash and buckle collar. Step on the end of the leash so that it is short enough that she can stand and jump up a little, but not get high enough to reach the counter. You want her to be able to move enough to make the mistake, but not enough for her to score a reward if your timing is off. She'll self-correct, and all you have to do is issue the verbal correction as she moves upwards. Obviously, you can't move around easily while you are doing this, but set some things out for practice, or do it while you are standing in one spot making something. Don't forget to praise/reward her when she's being good. Specifically, when her body language changes so that she is relaxed and not thinking about getting whatever is on your counter.
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post #4 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-26-2017, 09:29 PM
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Last edited by usually lurking; 05-26-2017 at 09:47 PM.
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post #5 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-26-2017, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Megora View Post
Most people out there go to classes, learn all the corrections and stuff... and use them 1/2 the time. But they are all over the place with corrections and rewards. Means they are actually mindlessly rewarding the dogs when they are wrong... and constantly correcting the dogs so the dogs are just blowing them off.
On that note, let me add that it does take practice to process and react to these things quickly and appropriately, and to know what your dog is going to do before he does it, especially if you don't have naturally good instincts. It's easier for some people more so than others. I only bring that up as it has been a painful experience watching my oldest learn timing with our current pup. However, the only way to learn is to keep doing. (Preferably with instruction, since continuing to do it wrong, and never changing or improving gets you nowhere fast.)
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post #6 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-27-2017, 02:17 AM
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My god, no, don't use a shock collar for counter surfing. Don't let your dog in the kitchen when you are not home. Crate the dog or use a baby gate. When you are home, keep all food off the counter. If dog goes to get up on the counter, ask the dog to do something else, like sit, and reward him for that. Take the value off of the counter surfing.
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post #7 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-27-2017, 07:36 AM
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I'm not sure why so many people think that using a shock collar is the answer to an unwanted behavior. Shocking the snot out of your dog is a desperate action because you don't want to put in the work.

Clean your kitchen so there is no reason to get up there. Remove him from the kitchen when you aren't there. Pretty simple ideas and no one got zapped, those things hurt. You have to be there when you shock him.. and what's to prevent him from doing it when you aren't there?? Shock or not you still have to do the training.

See if this video helps
it's pretty simple but like most things you have to put in the effort to get good results.
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post #8 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-27-2017, 11:05 AM
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I'm not sure why so many people think that using a shock collar is the answer to an unwanted behavior. Shocking the snot out of your dog is a desperate action because you don't want to put in the work.
I'll answer that, just for the benefit of people who have friends or trainers suggest them. The answer is simply that they are available, they get results, and some trainers use them and recommend them. Like any other training tool, they have their place in certain situations and/or with certain dogs. As an extreme example, if someone has a dog engaging in an unwanted behavior, and the owner has exhausted other tools and is left with the choice to use the e collar to attempt a behavior change or send the dog to shelter where he might be euthanized, the e collar is probably a better choice. Again, that's an extreme example. There are other situations in which it could be a training tool. Same goes for a prong collar. The purpose isn't to use it forever, but to get your dog to listen long enough for you to train it. It's hard for someone to teach a dog to heel if the dog is stronger than they are and dragging them down the road.

Having said that, is it appropriate for counter surfing? Probably not. Is it appropriate for your puppy who breaks his stays? Again, probably not. Let me offer another kind of extreme example, as to the difference in quick training versus using more traditional methods. There's a dog in my neighborhood who's about the same age as mine. He was recently sent to one of these "give us your dog for two weeks and he'll come back completely trained" places. He came back, and he's not the bouncing puppy he was before. He stays when he's told to stay, doesn't run off anymore, etc, even though you can see him twitching forward and thinking about it. He is always wearing an e collar. Now, my puppy is being trained using very traditional methods. He isn't going to be trained in two weeks or even two months. He's going to make mistakes, but he isn't going to get shocked or buzzed when he makes a mistake. If he breaks a stay, he's going to get put back where he was until he's released. What's the difference in these two puppies, other than the length of time it takes to train? Well, for one, my dog is alert and paying attention to me (or my son, whichever of us is handling). What is the other puppy doing? He's looking around at whatever he's interested in. He staying put because he *has* to. Not because he *wants* to. Now, maybe I'm old fashioned, but I see training as a journey. I want my dog to derive as much joy out of listening to me, as I do out of training him. I want him to *want* to do for me. I don't want a dog who behaves because something bad will happen if he doesn't. That can lead to fearful, anxiety ridden dogs. Their instincts are repressed, rather than molded into the behavior that you want. There's a difference in the overall demeanor of my dog versus the other, as well. Guess which one is relaxed and happy, and guess which one is tense? Your dog shouldn't be tense just because you asked him to stay. If your dog isn't getting exercise and mental stimulation, and he becomes a nuisance barker, an e collar isn't solving your problem. Your dog is only going to find another outlet for his pent up energy. If you don't provide an appropriate outlet, he's going to become anxious and, possibly, destructive. In the end, when both dogs are fully trained and and the e collar is taken off of the other dog, guess which dog my money is on for reliability. I'll take the dog that pays attention to his handler, not the one who was trained entirely with aversive techniques and knows that his ecollar has suddenly disappeared.

The other problem with relying on aversive training methods is that people forget to praise the good behavior. I have yet to hear the owners of the dog with the ecollar praise the dog for doing as he's told. I liken this to two different types of bosses. On the one hand, you have a boss who yells at you every time you screw up. If you do well, the reward is no yelling. On the other hand, you have a boss who acknowledges your mistakes, provides guidance for fixing them, and offers raises when you do well. I know which boss I would prefer and which one would make for a collaborative working environment.

Kudos to the OP for asking the question and trying to do research before making a decision. Obviously, the OP is only trying to correct one behavior, not train a dog completely with an e collar, but now, thanks to Megora's post, fostergolden's post and puddleseverywhere's video, the OP has other options. Better that than going in blind and not asking for help because, frankly, some people really don't know the pros and cons of every advertised training tool. Furthermore, with so much conflicting information on any given item, unless you've had experience, how could you possibly work through all the information effectively?

Anyway, that's my two cents, for what it's worth.

Last edited by usually lurking; 05-27-2017 at 11:19 AM.
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post #9 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-27-2017, 01:21 PM
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On that note, let me add that it does take practice to process and react to these things quickly and appropriately, and to know what your dog is going to do before he does it, especially if you don't have naturally good instincts. It's easier for some people more so than others. I only bring that up as it has been a painful experience watching my oldest learn timing with our current pup. However, the only way to learn is to keep doing. (Preferably with instruction, since continuing to do it wrong, and never changing or improving gets you nowhere fast.)
^^^ Thanks for making that point + the reminder about praise/reward when your dogs are "right".

When I said the above, I meant to explain that some people give up on certain methods because "they don't work" and move to something "stronger".... and they don't adequately understand why the more common sense methods don't work. It's generally not the methods or the dogs, it's inconsistency or laziness on the part of the owners.

Training does take effort. If you see your dog do something good - you need to "mark" it with praise. This reinforces just as much as physical corrections reinforce the verbal correction so you can quickly get to a point where a verbal correction is all you need to get a dog to stop and walk away from temptation.

Zap collars, btw, have their place. I train with people who put them on their HIGH GEAR dogs when training a group class. Because otherwise they would not be able to take their dogs off leash. This includes dogs who are obsessed with retrieving everything thrown and chasing everything that moves very fast.... these dogs come to class wearing zap collars and usually get weaned off having to wear them over time.

You could use them with "leave it" training, but go back to basics first and really be consistent and practical and see where that takes you.

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post #10 of 56 (permalink) Old 05-27-2017, 01:46 PM
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I believe that the Sit Means Sit folks (they have a few serious lawsuits pending, on in particular in Florida that is heinous) are at least one of the reasons why pet people think that a shock collar is a good substitution for training. They have good pet person marketing and if you watch their YouTube videos, to the untrained eye, they are miracle workers.

The last video I watched was someone walking their yellow Lab into a new building with new people and frankly, I have seen way worse as far as behavior in a new place goes. The dog was happy, friendly, not jumping, but certainly excited and unable to think straight. He was clearly not trained and was young, maybe two. The "after" video was a dog that was stressed, ears back, tail down, wanting to please and afraid and unsure. He did not want to get out of the sit position so he would walk slowly with his butt down, ready to hit the floor. Everyone in the video thought this was great because the dog was "minding". Too many people confuse intimidation and fear with obedience.

Dogs are not robots, they are dogs. And training takes time, effort and consistency. Dogs are incredible and they are so forgiving and they try so hard to make us happy and live in our world. Humans take advantage of that and our expectations -- especially when they are puppies or young dogs or going through dog puberty/adolescence (remember how difficult that was???) -- of them are unfair. They are born dogs, not humans, and we expect them to live in our homes and follow our rules from day one. While they are evolved into biddable house pets and workers, they are still dogs and that is not going to change. It's easy to scare and intimidate a dog into minding, but at what price?

Getting off my soapbox now...

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