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Last weekend I went with my puppy to the field and hunt workshop, where instructors used their well trained dogs to demonstrate various training techniques including forced training. They dogs performed really amazing, but I noticed all their dogs are tense and nervous - heads down, often tail between legs and shaking during execution. They guy said the dogs were excited, but it doesn't seems this way. I have seen a couple other force training demonstrations and noticed the same thing - dog's shaking and nervousness.
My dog is 6 1/2 months old. I haven't tried any forced methods and always use positive reinforcement, but heard many times that if I want to progress with training I will need to use e-collar, whipping stick, ear pinch, etc. I wouldn't feel very good if my puppy will change his happy attitude about training and be shaking and constantly expecting the e-shock during his field training.
Do you think the tension and nervousness are the unavoidable components of the forced training?
I just want to hear your thoughts and comments on this matter.
 

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Maggie Mae's Mom Too!
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You will get lots of varying opinions on e-collar training. It really depends on what the dog is being trained for. Field and Hunt are very regimented strict learned behaviors. I hope you get some good information based on those that actually train their dogs for field with the use of an e-collar. They are the ONLY persons qualified to give you the answers to the questions you have. You will surely see this thread grow to 16 pages of biased opinions to the negatives of e-collars from lots of folks who don't use them or have never trained a dog with one with a qualified trainer. Please try to stay objective to only those who can offer you feedback based on personal experience with THEIR DOG. Good luck.
 

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I have only e-collar trained one dog, and I would not be without it. I believe it has saved his life, or at least kept him from getting lost, on more than one occasion.
If you have a dog with a very high prey drive and a lot of bird instinct, they can be very hard to call back if they take off after a bird unless you can get their attention with an e-collar. I call it my "safety net".
My dog has a very happy attitude, and I have seen absolutely no negative effects from the e-collar.
 

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where the tails wag
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I have chosen not to use Force Fetch and eCollar on my Faelan. Talking with my trainers and other successful competitors who have watched and worked with Faelan, to reach Master Hunter level he may need the eCollar, for Senior Hunter level no, he does not.

That being said, my training could possibly have been sped up by use of force; I chose instead to reprioritize obedience and agility ahead of field training since these are my real interests and involve more than 1 of my dogs. Some would (and do) say my Faelan's failed tests were the result of this lack of force, I believe he needs training more than once or twice a week.

It is a decision you, and only you can make. I strongly agree that it can definitely save your dogs life if they have a strong prey drive - I successfully used an eCollar on my King for this reason.

I would close by saying, if you choose to use an eCollar, look around until you find a trainer who has motivated and happy dogs who trains with a collar - you can see videos on this site of very motivated and happy retrievers who are trained with the collar :) I train with many dogs who are happy and enthusiastic retrievers and wear the collar.

Remember, the eCollar is a tool. Used wisely, after training has occurred it should not result in dogs who are afraid. Used incorrectly or in anger, yes problems can occur.

Edit to add: And if you chose not to use force, be prepared for negativity to flow your way but stick to your choices whichever way you decide. And also, please remember that your next dog may have you choosing differently - it truly is not a one size fits all answer.
 

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Where The Bitches Rule
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Okay this is just my opinion but here goes.
If a dog is tail tucked and head down (avoidance) then the dog is not being taught properly. Now I know that is a VERY BROAD statement but from your description "but I noticed all their dogs are tense and nervous" I would say that was the case here. Honestly, if it is done properly that does not need to occur.
I have trained 4 dogs through FF and other than maybe the first 5 minutes that is a behavior I have never experienced with any of my girls. One of my favorite DVDs for this Is Even Graham's "Smart Fetch" DVD.
 

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I'm not a huge fan of e-collar training, and I choose not to use one on my dogs, but I think what you're seeing is either a result of poor training (not the collar itself) or a misreading of body language.

When a driven dog is totally focused, his head and tail can sometimes be pretty low, and many dogs quiver. It's not necessarily a sign of too much force in training. My dogs are trained (not for field, but well-trained) with very little in the way of aversives, and they get a funny partial crouch before they're released, and they frequently quiver.

I too have seen dogs with the sad, beaten look, and you don't need an e-collar to produce it, and the e-collar doesn't produce it when used properly. So if you're right about the body language, I still don't think the e-collar is at fault. A bad trainer was. An e-collar in the hands of a cruel, stupid, or uneducated person is a terrible thing, but so is a leash.
 

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I use an e collar on my Golden and it doesn't phase him one bit when the collar is put on his neck. Now I followed the correct instructions on how to use the ecollar and I don't abuse it but use it as a very useful tool. Depending on how "hard" your dog is, there is probably no need to up the zap very much past the number where the dog can feel a sensation. If you could borrow someone's ecollar and transmitter then try it on your hand and up the number after each zap. You can see that the lower number will not hurt your dog at all. If you go the ecollar route then only go to someone who trains in a humane way and doesn't try to get your dog to yelp each time it is hit with a shock that is not the correct way. Tritronics is probably the best out there and is highly recommended.
My ecollars have allowed my dogs to run on the beach and swim at the lake with no reason to be tethered to me. The dogs have a blast and I have had more people come up to me and say how well behaved they are. And that is just wearing the collars with nothing turned on.
 

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The most recent Golden Retriever News had an interview with one of the grand ladies of goldens. She said an interesting thing about e collars- that we should reckon with the large number of goldens who have been ruined by them even while admitting they can work beautifully as a tool in exact and professional hands. I admire Sunrise, and my training partner Judy who has an MH with no force- I really think it is more of an accomplishment that way. Not everyone agrees.
 

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i hope you get some good information based on those that actually train their dogs for field with the use of an e-collar. They are the only persons qualified to give you the answers to the questions you have. You will surely see this thread grow to 16 pages of biased opinions to the negatives of e-collars from lots of folks who don't use them or have never trained a dog with one with a qualified trainer.
woohoo!!! Thank you
 

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I echo Tippy's comments on possibly mis-reading the dog's body language as being fearful rather than just intense. It can look very similar especially with some of the very highly driven field dogs.
If the dog really is fearful during training that is the fault of the TRAINER not the training TOOL.

Do you think the tension and nervousness are the unavoidable components of the forced training?
NO
 

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While I wouldn't use an e-collar myself, I do think that they do have their place in the training world. I've seen quite a few dogs that were trained with them (my grandfather used to train German Shorthaired Pointers for hunting) and none of them had that reaction to the collar. I would think that if they're physically cowering, they weren't conditioned to the collar correctly.
 

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Last weekend I went with my puppy to the field and hunt workshop, where instructors used their well trained dogs to demonstrate various training techniques including forced training. They dogs performed really amazing, but I noticed all their dogs are tense and nervous - heads down, often tail between legs and shaking during execution. They guy said the dogs were excited, but it doesn't seems this way. I have seen a couple other force training demonstrations and noticed the same thing - dog's shaking and nervousness.
My dog is 6 1/2 months old. I haven't tried any forced methods and always use positive reinforcement, but heard many times that if I want to progress with training I will need to use e-collar, whipping stick, ear pinch, etc. I wouldn't feel very good if my puppy will change his happy attitude about training and be shaking and constantly expecting the e-shock during his field training.
Do you think the tension and nervousness are the unavoidable components of the forced training?
I just want to hear your thoughts and comments on this matter.
If you don't fell 100% comfortable with the idea of using an E-collar on your dog, then by all means don't use one, especially for a hobby like field training your dog. People are demonstrating that a dog can be trained to hunt and to be successful in Hunt Tests without the use of a FF or E-collar. It will be harder, possibly just because most field techniques have been developed with E-collars and non-aversive methods are just nudging their way into the field world, or maybe aversive methods just work faster, but it can be done.
 

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My dog is 6 1/2 months old. I haven't tried any forced methods and always use positive reinforcement, but heard many times that if I want to progress with training I will need to use e-collar, whipping stick, ear pinch, etc. I wouldn't feel very good if my puppy will change his happy attitude about training and be shaking and constantly expecting the e-shock during his field training.
Do you think the tension and nervousness are the unavoidable components of the forced training?
This reminded me of something I read while reading up on how other people teach various advanced obedience things like go-outs.

There was a woman who said she tried teaching the go-out by putting a prong collar on the dog to yank at from the front and she had a riding crop to whip the dog behind. This was to force her dog to go DIRECTLY across the floor without stopping to sniff or look back.

Sick. :(

I believe I'd be more likely to put a zap collar on my dog than I'd be to twist my dog's ears or beat him with a whip. And that is highly unlikely.

That does not mean I have anything to say about people who do train with zap collar. Obviously, if it keeps their dogs under control out in the field - it's worth it. I probably wouldn't do it (I don't even like electric fencing, guys), but I would not criticize people who do.

I'm sure it would just come off like those people who are convinced that using a prong or choke chain on a dog is cruelty extreme. This when I know my dog gets all excited when he hears the jingle of his choke chain and will come running to poke his nose through to urge me to put it on him faster. <- It's a tool, and it comes down to how it's used.
 

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I hope you get some good information based on those that actually train their dogs for field with the use of an e-collar. They are the ONLY persons qualified to give you the answers to the questions you have. You will surely see this thread grow to 16 pages of biased opinions to the negatives of e-collars from lots of folks who don't use them or have never trained a dog with one with a qualified trainer. Please try to stay objective to only those who can offer you feedback based on personal experience with THEIR DOG. Good luck.
If you only listen to people who use e-collars, you'll only hear positives of e-collars. Listen to all viewpoints. Experience is only one kind of knowledge. It deserves lots of weight, but it's not the only way to learn something.

For example, I know that hard pops on a prong are a bad idea. I don't have to do it myself to hold that opinion and to defend it. There are people out there who train that way, and if I only listen to them, where does that leave me?
 

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Maggie Mae's Mom Too!
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Tippy,
With all due respect, I say that from the HUGE thread of a few weeks ago that became a huge pee'ing contest over the rights and wrongs based on ethical and moral reasonings about beliefs in that type of training. Things get so emotionally charged over this subject, and I merely was trying to provide our OP some advice on how to accept the information given. e-collar training for the purpose of hunt and field is what our person was referring to, not whether it's a right or wrong thing. That's all. No emotions, just facts about that type of field training. that is what information is important in this case.
 

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Did you talk to anyone else to see if they felt the way that you do about what the dogs were showing behavior wise? If others felt that they saw the same thing, maybe you are not misreading body language and something is very wrong. Just like any tool, the e collar can be misused. In that case, the fault is with the trainer, not the collar. FWIW, in my own training group, e collar misuse is common among those that use one.

I use a heeling stick (whipping stick) and I certainly don't beat my dog with it although I'm sure that it is done. Who were these people that were demonstrating?
 

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Tippy,
With all due respect, I say that from the HUGE thread of a few weeks ago that became a huge pee'ing contest over the rights and wrongs based on ethical and moral reasonings about beliefs in that type of training. Things get so emotionally charged over this subject, and I merely was trying to provide our OP some advice on how to accept the information given. e-collar training for the purpose of hunt and field is what our person was referring to, not whether it's a right or wrong thing. That's all. No emotions, just facts about that type of field training. that is what information is important in this case.
Absolutely. I agree that some anti-e-collar folks appeal to emotion, exaggerate, and use charged, unhelpful terms like "abusive." I prefer to debate the relative merits of different training styles and avoid the charged terms for all but the most extreme fringes of training.

And I agree that experience is a really powerful, persuasive source of information. Just not that it's the only valid voice in this conversation.

The OP's actual question was "Do you think the tension and nervousness are the unavoidable components of the forced training?" That's not just "e-collar training for the purpose of hunt and field." That's absolutely a question of right and wrong. If a training method very frequently led to a miserable but effective dog, that's definitely a reason to question the ethics of that method.

And don't just blame the anti e-collar folks for what happens in the long threads. For every dramatic, exaggerated post that calls e-collars abusive, there's an arrogant pro e-collar post with a "our way is the only good way" attitude.
 

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Riot's mom
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You have already gotten a lot of good advise. I also encourage you to use the search function for "e-collar." There have been quite a few very long discussions.

To answer a few of your questions in my own way... Dogs do sometimes quiver when they are on the line, getting ready to run. They are that excited. It's like Christmas to them. However, some trainers may APPLY the e-collar, and pressure in general, in an incorrect way. This is when you get the "tail between the legs, worried constantly" look. Pressure, when applied fairly, does not negatively affect a dog's attitude. If a dog is correctly conditioned to the collar, they will know exactly what causes a correction to be made. They will not be worried that the "hand of god" will just come down at any moment to "get them." Correct training teaches them what causes corrections to come, how to avoid these corrections, and how to turn them off if they do happen.

The other weekend, I was training with a professional field trainer. I have collar trained and force fetched my dog, but I consider myself a positive trainer. After the trainer had watched me for a while with my dog, she smiled and said "you are a positive trainer, aren't you?" It's something that just radiates from the way I interact with my dog, the way I talk to him. But the best part is, the trainer doesn't care. She just wants to help me take my dog as far as I can. If you really want to do hunt training with your dog, you need to find a trainer who will work with what YOU want for your dog. If they are a good trainer, they will be able to help you.

Also, getting titles without e-collars and force fetch is not "more of an accomplishment." It takes nothing away from the dog or the trainer. Unless you really want to tell Anney and Barb (and a whole heck of a lot of others) their titles are somehow "not as good" as others. It is just a different way of training. Nothing more, nothing less.
 

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Maggie Mae's Mom Too!
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Mlopez, that was an EXCELLENT post. Exactly what I think our OP was looking for. My Tucker quivers and shakes like he is about to freeze to death he gets so worked up to run...... eyes so fixed it's borderline creepy. :) He lives for that.... very much like a kid on Christmas morning!
 
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