Yesterday when I opened the paper, I read the front-page article about leash laws in Peachtree City and the issue of unleashed dogs on the paths and streets. What caught my attention first and foremost was what I consider a downright dangerously wrong statement regarding electronic training collars.
A man was quoted as saying: “I guarantee you, you crank these up and you can get a dog to stop whatever he’s doing, the bad behavior, 100 percent of the time.” That is a very startling, and very wrong statement.
I have trained dogs for over 25 years and in that time used electronic training collars on nearly every dog I’ve trained. I’ve trained dogs for hunting, field trials, obedience, agility, and just plain companionship.
What’s so wrong about the statement is something that any experienced e-collar trainer will tell you that pressing that button while the dog is in “fight mode” will cause only one thing: a redoubled attack.
You never, ever, ever push that button if the dog is nose-to-nose with another dog, and never push the button if the dog is attacking.
The generally accepted theory is that the dog perceives the shock as a bite from the other combatant, and so increases the severity of the situation, as the dog escalates to meet the perceived increase in opposition.
I have personally witnessed an untrained person shocking a dog during a dogfight, and it did not end well.
An e-collar is an invaluable training tool, but it is far from a panacea. It’s a specialty tool, for specialty work, and best used in the hands of someone with experience and instruction in its use.
In the hands of the untrained, it is more a problem-creator than a problem-solver. The thought of a bunch of people running to the local pet store to “collar up” their dogs so they can let them run loose is a frightening picture.
I applaud the Peachtree City Council members who are giving this issue thought, and I like some of the suggestions I read. Clearly this is an issue that needs addressed, but also clearly it’s not going to be solved by e-collars alone.
Todd Hedenstrom and
his dog Buster, aka Keepsake’s Chance to Shine, CGC, RA
Senoia (Fayette County), Ga.