Why I (usually) don't use a prong or e-collar
The internet is awesome. So much information, so much advice, so many great stories. If you've searched the internet looking for the right training collar to use and how to train your dog, you're sure to have seen alleged dog trainers claiming that 'purely positive' training is the way to go and that tools like prong collars and e-collar and even slip/"choke" collars are cruel and will damage your dog and your relationship.
The truth is that these tools - properly fitted and used correctly - are very effective and humane, and they allow you to guide and train your dog quickly, clearly and effectively. Properly fitted and used correctly.
As you may know, for an e-collar to work reliably and effectively, it must fit snugly enough around the dog's neck that the contact points remain in contact with the dog's neck. The prong collar - to be effective and not hurt the dog - must also be fitted somewhat snuggly and in the right position around the dog's neck. In both cases, an important concept is to have the tool work effectively enough that resistance is relatively minimal and the handler's power of physical communication is enhanced. Again, properly fitted and used correctly, these tools will do exactly that - without hurting or traumatizing the dog.
So, why do I almost never use them? Here's why:
In my experience, the "pressure" (the physical pressure of a correction or the tightness of the training collar) should be balanced by total relaxation of whatever is being used. Properly fitted and correctly used prong and e-collars must remain snugly in place at all times to be effective and safe. Even when the dog is perfectly obedient and compliant, the collar(s) must necessarily remain snugly in place.
But when my dogs are compliant (walking peacefully at heel or follow, for example), they should have the feeling of being "free" ... all pressure should disappear and they should experience a sensation as close as possible to being completely un-leashed and un-collared. In this way, it is not the pressure that informs the dog; it is the release and absence of pressure that informs the dog of the right choice in behavior. Naturally, this takes focus and timing on the part of the trainer/handler. This requires practice and consistency.
It's important to use your voice and your touch to reinforce correct behavior as well as incorrect behavior. The leash and choke collar, properly fitted and used correctly, allow you to issue a correction that is quick and precise and immediately release any and all pressure on the dog. Praise the dog and pet him (as appropriate) when the pressure is released and the dog is compliant. Pay close attention that you are not maintaining a tight leash. If you are correcting the dog to a proper heel, be sure that you are correcting the dog to you and not allowing the dog to change your course or pace. Your dog should experience the sensation of being compliant and obedient and relaxed and free at the same time. With this method and timely praise and affection you will see a new level of happiness, calmness and trust with your dog.
Who you are to your dog is everything ...
~ Feb 04, 2016