How to best use these tools to make any hunting breed into a better duck and goose getter...and a canine good citizen.
We have all been on a waterfowl hunt where someone's supposedly well-trained dog runs wild, storming through a cattail slough scaring off incoming mallards or roaring across the corn stubble flaring landing honkers.
SportDog Wetland Hunter 2000.
The dog's owner calls the dog's name or blows a "come in" whistle which the running pooch ignores until all the birds have disappeared over the horizon, all the hunters are thoroughly disgusted, and the whole hunt becomes a disaster.
On the way back to the vehicles, this dog wonÃt Ã¬heelÃ® by walking calmly next to its owner, and at the truck wonÃt Ã¬sitÃ® or Ã¬stayÃ® or Ã¬kennelÃ® on command.
On the next hunt, this canine might get into a close encounter with a raccoon, porcupine, skunk, or rattlesnake and end up full of cuts, quills, bad odors, or poison. Or he may kick up a deer that he will chase across a busy highway and out of sight, maybe into the next county, state, or time zone.
At home, this dog, when released from its travel crate or outside kennel, uncontrollably rushes at top speed through the neighborhood tormenting the neighbor's cat, tripping over little kids, and tipping over trash cans.
Though there are probably few dogs that could commit all these transgressions in one day, there are many dogs that will do many of these things in a single year and certainly over a lifetime. So what is a dog owner to do to avoid these lapses in canine good conduct?
The answer is the modern electric training collar, used to gently reinforce lessons taught by standard teaching methods and to discourage any canine's potentially dangerous or self-destructive impulses.
Following are ten top guidelines from professional and experienced trainers for choosing and using modern e-collars. This is a consensus of advice given by several experts on the subject of selecting e-collars and employing them as a way to shape and control the learned and impulsive behavior of any breed of hunting dog.
1. Use an e-collar mainly to gently, not painfully, reinforce lessons in canine basic obedience as taught by traditional hands-on methods. Before using an e-collar on any dog, be sure that dog has learned how to come, stay (whoa or hup), heel, and kennel with these lessons taught by using leads and check cords as well as choke chains or metal pinch collars.
2. Calibrate e-collar stimulation power at the lowest effective level to gently persuade any dog to obey commands taught by conventional training techniques. Look for a twitch of an ear or the slight turn of the head to see that a dog feels the low level electrical stimulation from the probes on the collar. Feel the power yourself by putting the probes on the back of your hand to better understand the way an e-collar can work to create discomfort rather than pain as a form of persuasion.
Dogtra 2500 T&B Series
3. Set e-collar stimulation at the higher levels to stop any dog from committing potentially dangerous or self-destructive compulsive acts such as aggressive encounters with raccoons, skunks, porcupines, or poisonous snakes. Likewise, use higher electrical power to discourage a chase after domestic livestock or big game animals such as deer, moose, and antelope, for example.
4. Before putting an e-collar on your dog, you should read the instructions (see the handbooks that come with the products), study the principles of e-collar use (see magazine articles, books, and videos on this subject), and get professional help when necessary (look for the many seminars and short-courses offered nowadays on e-collar choice and use).
5. Always have an e-collar on your waterfowl dog on a hunt, during training or exercise sessions, and at home to constantly and consistently reinforce lessons in basic obedience and to control canine impulsive behavior. The idea of using an e-collar is to create long-term good habits in a dog's behavior, something best done by always having the opportunity to make corrections and to teach lessons.
6. Choose an e-collar that is easy to operate with rheostat dials, knobs, and key boards that can quickly be set with one hand and stimulation buttons that can simply be activated with one finger. Because the prompt timing of stimulation is so important in reinforcing a dog's learned behavior, a transmitter that is easy, simple, and quick to manipulate is essential.
7. Pick an e-collar to fit your dog's temperament and hunting style. For waterfowl dogs that are sensitive and stay in close, an e-collar with many levels of stimulation power and a moderate range might be appropriate. Tougher, bigger running dogs may do better with fewer levels of power and longer ranges of stimulation. Ask e-collar makers and retailers for well-informed guidance on this subject.
8. Determine your need for an e-collar by counting the number of times you give your dog commands for basic obedience such as come, stay, or kennel. Maybe ask one of your hunting buddies to do the counting because some dog owners are not aware of how much repetition, begging, or hacking they do with their dogs.
9. When shopping for an e-collar, carefully consider warranties with emphasis on their duration as well as the ultimate expense and speed of repair. Once most owners of duck and goose dogs realize the benefits of an e-collar on hunts, in training, and around home, suddenly being without a functional e-collar can be a problem. Consider having an e-collar with one transmitter and two receiver collars in case one collar goes dead, is lost in the field, or your hunting partner forgets his collar for his six-month-old, half-trained puppy
10. Learn to love your e-collar because this remote reinforcement and control tool can be one of the most effective and humane devices to shape the learned and impulsive behavior of any breed of gun dog. Properly chosen and used, an e-collar can make for a happier duck and goose dog and a happier waterfowl dog owner.
DT Systems H2O 1810.
As one of the major manufacturers of e-collars for reinforcing lessons in basic obedience and controlling the possibly dangerous impulsive behavior of all canines, Dogtra has led the way in designing and manufacturing low-maintenance, easy-to-operate, and reliable modern remote-training tools. All Dogtra products have durable, easy-to-activate, lightweight collar-receivers and hand-held transmitters with simple-to-manipulate and dependable controls for delivering stimulation and for operating locator-beepers.
Available in eight choices of one- or two- dog models, Dogtra e-collars are quickly turned on with the push of a button. The nick and constant impulses on the transmitter, likewise, can be precisely calibrated from low to high with a rheostat knob-type dial adjustable by finger-feel without looking at the controls. Stimulations are delivered and beepers are activated by easy-to-find buttons for timing short or longer impulses to reinforce learned behavior or to discourage prospectively impulsive dangerous behavior.
The new Dogtra 2500 Train and Beep Combo, one of the company's most recent products, has 60 levels of constant and nick stimulation and a one-mile range. The beeper, which can be remotely activated up to one-quarter mile, with easy-to-find-and-operate button, can be manually operated and shut off when necessary. Both the transmitter and the collar are waterproof.
The newest products from Tri-Tronics are the Classic 70G3EXP, the Field 90G3EXP, and the Upland G3EXP. Each model has the old style tube type transmitter with new style NiMH rechargeable replaceable batteries and a fixed antenna. Receivers have on/off buttons, an LED light indicating battery condition, and replaceable NiMH batteries that can be recharged in two hours.
The Field 70B3 has a one-mile range, six levels of constant stimulation, and a tone feature. The Field 90G3 has six levels of momentary and continuous power plus a one mile range. The Upland G3 has 18 levels of momentary, six levels of constant, and a remotely activated beeper that can be turned on and off from the transmitter. All three models have waterproof transmitters and collar receivers and are adaptable to the addition of up to two more collars.
SportDog is the newest e-collar-maker with several models offering a variety of features similar to other remote training devices on the market. Most SportDog e-collars have a lightweight, compact transmitter with up to 16 levels of stimulation impulses and an easy-to-manipulate rheostat wheel and easy-to-find stimulation buttons with rugged waterproof collar-receivers weighing under three ounces.
More than a dozen models are available with ranges from a few hundred yards to more than a mile, replaceable rechargeable NiM4 batteries, and a limited lifetime warranty. One of the newest products is the Sporthunter 800 with a half-mile range, 16 levels of continuous and eight levels of momentary stimulation, a tone only button, and a low battery indicator on both the transmitter and collar-receiver. The SportDog Upland 1850, SportDog's new version of the train-and-locate combination collar, has also just been put into the product line.
Remington Sporting Dog's SideKick.
D.T. Systems e-collars run the gamut from the miniscule Ultra-E Series Models, advertised as the world's smallest, most compact remote training tool, to the Elite Super Pro Models with e-collar and beeper combinations that include nick and constant stimulation, vibration, and an anti-bark feature as well as the control system for automatic bird launchers. All functions are displayed on an LED screen. In between these extremes are more than a dozen other models of e-collars to serve the needs of hunters with any breed or type of retriever.
New in the DT Systems line of products are the SPT 2400 Series and the H²0 1800 Series. Both of these collars have "Jump"and "Rise" stimulation, which means that each transmitter is pre-programmed to make the collar "jump" to a higher intensity level when the Jump button is pressed. The Rise button will increase intensity levels as long as the button is pressed. Both the Jump and Rise features make the timing of stimulation impulse much easier and more effective.
Remington Sporting Dog
The Remington SideKick, a new remote training system by Remington Sporting Dog, is a lightweight, compact, less expensive e-collar that operates on disposable and replaceable batteries in the transmitter (powered by one three volt CR240 lithium coin cell battery) and in the receiver (powered by one CR2 three volt lithium battery).
The transmitter has an LCD screen that indicates impulse levels from 0 to 9 which are adjusted by an "up" and a "down" button. There are four program modes on the transmitter including stimulation with tone; one with stimulation delay; stimulation only; and tone only. Price is under $200 with a two-year warranty.
An e-collar with a combination of multi-level stimulation and remotely activated beeper location features can be used to reinforce learned behavior and to control impulsive behavior as well as to find any out-of-sight gun dog on water or in the field. The location mode, however, can also serve several other significant functions as a method for communicating with any trained canine.
Any e-collar with a remotely operated beeper can be used as a way to deliver at distance common commands such as "come," "stay," and "sit," as well as handling instruction such as "back" and "over."
Likewise, the beeper can serve the same purpose as an e-collar with tone and vibration, with the advantage of being audible to the handler who does not need to assume or guess that a dog hears the tone or feels the vibration. As with tone and vibration features, the beeper sound can act as a warning prior to stimulation for negative behavior or as a reward for a positive reaction to a learned command.
Each of the major e-collar manufacturers makes several models of combination collars for all dogs that hunt ducks and geese.