Dogs

Remote Radio Dog Trainers

posted: 05/15/12
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Remote Radio Dog Trainers
PetSafe Venture Series | cultura/Corbis

For dogs who bark too much, the simple commands of "no" or "stop" are never enough, and even a favorite human's pleas or promised treats won't bring canine accord. But a training tool that reinforces your commands by getting your dog's attention can turn misbehaving dogs into obedient pets with the press of a transmitter button.

Remote radio dog trainers, also called electronic or beeper collars, are collars outfitted with electronic signal receivers. They have two stainless steel probes that are held firmly in contact with the dog's skin by a strap. The accompanying battery-powered transmitter in your hand, when pushed, emits a radio signal to the collar, which delivers a mild electrical stimulation through the probes to the dog, whether you're standing a few feet away, or as much as a mile distant.

The surprising, unpleasant sensation distracts the dog from barking or otherwise misbehaving. Dogs soon recognize the feeling of the unwelcome jolt, and learn to avoid the momentary sizzle by stopping their unwanted habits.

A variety of collars offer options, such as waterproofing, a longer distance training range, and rechargeable batteries. In addition, some offer alternatives to electronic stimulation by using vibration or sound to tell Fido no.

Depending on the dog's behavior, differing levels of stimulation may be needed to get results, from a quick tiny burst to a continuous pulsing that can last from eight to 10 seconds.  Although no dog can provide confirmation, the sensation experienced by dogs is usually likened to a static electricity shock or an insect bite—an annoying, momentary pain that is essentially harmless.

A dog whose training is supplemented with a remote radio trainer will quickly become savvy to what it means, and whenever it's on, he'll avoid barking, jumping, or whatever other behavior triggers a jolting reminder to be a good dog.  

What is the best way to use these trainers? Find out on the next page.

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PetSafe Venture Series | cultura/Corbis

Remote radio dog trainers should be used as just one part of the dog's training, addressing specific behavior issues, and not as the entire obedience curriculum. These corrective collars are meant to discourage a dog's negative behavior with a negative reinforcement, as opposed to teaching a new command.  Dogs younger than six months and small dogs should never wear remote radio trainers because the size, weight and bulk of the collar may be more than a small dog can handle; he may be prone to injury if he wears one.  The neck size of a small dog also means the collar will not fit or work properly. (Collar manufacturers list weight limitations on their products.) If you have a small dog and want to try remote radio training, some manufacturers may be able to provide a custom-fitted collar.

The collars should be used only for short durations and then removed and replaced by the dog's "regular" collar. Always start with the lowest level of stimulation and work up if needed. 

The real test of the collar's effectiveness comes when it's removed. Wise dogs quickly refrain from doing anything to cause that zing of negativity when they're wearing the collar. But when it's off like a necktie that's shed outside the office, will the dog still behave?  Those who oppose use of such collars contend that dogs may be more scared than distracted, or else they'll link the sting with the object they were focused on,  whether an intriguing sound, a spot in the backyard, or a child coming into view, rather than the fact that they were walking in the wrong direction. The dog may develop negative feelings, becoming fearful or timid, rather than confident and well-behaved.

Although technology has advanced since the first corrective collars, animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) still opposes so-called shock collars, saying that they result in canine pain, injury -- from burns to cardiac defibrillation -- anxiety, stress and displaced aggression.

Dog trainer and Animal Planet personality Victoria Stilwell advocates positive reinforcement in behavior training, with whatever motivator -- play, praise, toys or treats - works for your dog. She advises steering clear of training methods that rely on electric or weighted collars, stressing that "positive training equals positive results" even if that means extra patience and time to achieve success.

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