Why do we use e-collar on Porkchop

In our previous article, we mentioned about the arduous journey that we took to tackle Porkchop’s excessive barking. We tried various methods and finally settled on using e-collars. With all the commotion going around about e-collar bans, we thought that this would be a good time to share our reasons on why we continued using the e-collar and our experience using it as part of the training. (we said part because you will know when you read more below)

Just to be very clear, the e-collar that we used was the mini Educator and this article will be referencing this tool only. You can check out the link here for product specifics. We do not support any other brands as we do not have any experience using them. We also don’t want to provide a blanket statement that all e-collars are harmful. From our experience the mini Educator works for us.

It is not painful.

The mini Educator does not electrocute your dog like a criminal. It delivers a tapping sensation similar to vibration but more intense. More intense like how? Well the best way to gauge this was to try it for yourself.

When we first got introduced to it we had a face to face meet up with our trainer who let us try on the collar first hand and we did not feel any pain. It was uncomfortable yes, but not painful. It did not cause our skin to itch or make us jump. The key thing here that our trainer did was to help us understand the tool, what it is, how it works before you get into it. He educated us to make sure that we understood this is a tool to help us say no to Porkchop in an annoying way and that the e-collar brand that we were getting was equally important. Don’t go around buying cheap $10 ones because that would be a whole different story.

The critical point here is to manage the intensity. With the mini Educator, we are able to control a huge range of intensities. However, we are taught to manage the levels according to Porkchop’s state of excitement and reaction. The idea here is not to make him jump or squeal. Just a slight irritation for him is enough to get him to understand or remind him.

It is consistent.

When we read up more on dog training and got ourselves educated, we realized that one key thing to success was consistency. We had to make sure that our actions and our training were always the same so that Porkchop got it. After understanding how the Educator works, we used the Educator to help us to achieve this.

One of the main difference we found when we were trying leash correction vs mini Educator was that the leash correction was highly dependent on us executing it correctly without going over the line and hurting Porkchop, but yet managing to provide the correction effect that we wanted him to have. That brought out a lot of trial and error on our part because we didn’t know what level of leash correction he needed in which situations which meant that our efforts were very inconsistent. The leash techniques varied from person to person which also added to the inconsistency.

With the Educator, it was really clear for him and us. If we needed to correct the behaviour, we tapped and it was the same consistent stimulation throughout. If the situation was more distracting or he did not respond, we tapped at a higher intensity. It allowed us to change and adapt to situations easily, providing a consistent way to say no.

It allows us to capture timings accurately.

Like any form of dog training, the important part of correction is to catch the behavior at that instant and correct it. For us, it was difficult to capture the barking behaviour at home because we were not always beside him or near enough to correct. By the time we went over to correct, the timing was gone and he was unable to comprehend the reason for the correction. What we needed was a tool that could help us to capture that moment quickly. When he barks, we tap straightaway and he stops because he knows he is not allowed to bark. With this consistency and accuracy, he is now less sensitive to strangers outside the door and does not bark at them much anymore.

It works for us.

From our previous article, we mentioned about excessive and attention barking which was one of the key issues we had when we first got Porkchop. Honestly as first time pawrents we started off with zero knowledge of how to train him and we thought that reward based training would suffice, since he did follow and managed to learn sit and stay at home through this training method. Well, it works. To some extent.

It became a different story when we brought him out to dog parks or walks. He didn’t have any food drive and was not responding even when we brought his favourite treat to get him to listen. He did not come when we called him and just ran off because other dogs were more interesting than us. Besides the excessive barking which made the whole family wakes up at 4am in the morning, he also had really bad leash pulling issues. It always felt like he was walking us whenever we brought him out on walks because he was just so excited and stimulated by the surroundings and wanted to rush off everywhere.

We needed an effective way to say no.

After we got the Educator, we used it as a tool to tell him no. When he pulled us on walks, we tapped to say “hey, that’s not right” and he came back immediately. We then added this training with reward based training. When he obeyed and came back, we praised him, gave him our pat of love and rewarded him with a treat.

See what we did here? We did not just tell him no. We also rewarded him to tell him yes. This was what we meant by part of the training – we did not discount reward based training and only stuck with the Educator. What we learnt was to use a hybrid of training methods so that Porkchop knows very clearly what’s yes and what’s no. It works for us. It is a case of negative reinforcement used in conjunction with positive reinforcement. These two methods work brilliantly hand in hand for us.

Our stance.

Having a dog is like having a child. You care for them, you train them, you love them and you want to keep them safe. There are many ways to do this and it’s up to the parents to make decisions based on what works for their child. You can’t tell every child that you will buy them an iPad if they do well in exams every year. It might work for some children but it might not work for others. (Some might even just be happy with a lollipop)

In all honesty, we did face backlash from our family when we first started using the Educator. Everyone felt it was inhumane, thought that it sent shocks into Porkchop’s body, he looked pitiful etc etc. However, we then educated (no pun intended) our family by letting them try the Educator on themselves and also taught them how to use it when we were not at home with Porkchop. The result was that it corrected his behavior really well and our family was impressed by how well behaved he became. Porkchop’s grandparents even started to advocate the Educator and shared with close friends his success story.

For us, we understand that every dog is different and we feel that as an owner, it is your responsibility to train your dog and make sure they are obedient. What we need is not a ban but a close look at the products in the market on a case by case basis to understand what works and what doesn’t. Next, set up an education system for owners to learn how they can use the tools correctly and accurately. If we can have lamaze class for first time parents, shouldn’t we have some form of education workshop for pawrents as well?

In short, don’t blame the tools. The pawrents who are using it should be responsible and educated to use them correctly so that they don’t anyhow.

Resources

If you would like to read up more on the mini Educator and training, check out the links below:

Ecollar demo on humans: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CB4ARLVBL4f/?igshid=1qeurohoqd2ek

Operant conditioning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUA5kCZe8nY

You can also check out Porkchop’s e-collar journey on his Instagram highlights for ‘Pork 2.0’.

1 Comment

  • Jane Peh
    Posted November 10, 2020 12:21 pm 0Likes

    Very insightful article!

    Agree with your ending paragraph – In short, don’t blame the tools. The pawrents who are using it should be responsible and educated to use them correctly so that they don’t anyhow.

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