Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Electronic Dog

E-collars are getting "smarter" and smarter, with tones, pagers, etc. More and more features controlled by the transmitter. Tracking collars, beepers, and now GPS units to pinpoint your dog's location on a topo map featuring roads and landmarks... Where does it end?
Before anyone gets the idea that I'm anti-technology for dogs.. Forget it! I own all the units specified, but maybe for different reasons.
Years ago, when e-collars were truly "shock collars", I eschewed their use, employing tried and true, old style, methods. Then, the collars advanced a bit, and one could train without really "juicing" the pupil. I bought the state of the art collar of the day, and became a believer. Things seemed easy, but, were the dogs truly learning their lessons being "tickled" by many shots of low level stimululation, or were they just becoming "collar wise". I think they truly were learning, but, what turned me around was unintended stimulations at inopportune times. I never used the collar around birds, I didn't want any negative associations, whatsoever! Those with more e-collar experience that I, do it unabashedly, but, I just didn't trust the technology enough..
So, I'm back to check cords and traditional methods, for the most part. Check cords may trip me up, give me rope burns, and nearly yank joints from their sockets, but, they're still my tool of choice. The e-collar is still in use, and it has it's place in my toolbox for limited situations, but, it's no longer the "go to" tool it once was.
I love the new Garmin Astro though. Particularly on my big running English Setter that is out of sight and beeper range more than I'd like. It gives some peace of mind.
The beeper collar is also still in my arsenal also. I don't like the noise; a traditional bell is much more pleasing to the ear, but, It allows me to know where a black dog, that is very difficult to see in the woods, is, and lets me know what she's doing.
So, what's the answer?? Use the technology at hand, or go traditional??

If we're to use it all, perhaps it's time to start breeding selectively for longer necks??
Just my "thought of the day"...


  1. A good comment, Bill -- and you have more experience than me. I'm coming to the opinion that e-collars are great for enforcing non-negotiables (which for me are 'drop,' 'leave' and breaking dogs of chasing deer (or snakes or porkies)), but that for most other situations, especially those involving actual bird contact, a check-cord works even better.

    Personally, I can't stand beepers -- and have no need for an Astro. I am enjoying my new launchers, though. 8-)


  2. Thanks Andrew,
    An old axiom by Delmar Smith that I always keep in mind...
    "You can't make a mistake by going too slow"
    Sage advice.