I'm not sure about where you are, but here, every turn you make you'll see the little white flags of the electronic containment system. It is definitely a growing trend. They aren't brand new to the market but I'm definitely seeing more and more of them. Since it's a growing trend, I wanted to do some comparisons of the ECS and a regular Fence. I will be touching on some pros and cons of regular fences, and electronic containment systems.
Pros and Cons of Fence:
- Dog is safely contained inside
- People are kept out
- Dogs are kept out
- Other animals can be kept out
- Depending on the fence it can provide a visual barrier (dog won't see things to bark at)
- Your dog will technically always come when called (It just may take a while)
- Some fences dogs can get over, or under
- Can lead to barrier frustration
- People allow the fence to become a babysitter for their dog
- Gates can accidentally be left open allowing for unknowing escape
- People can reach over potentially resulting in a bite
Pros and Cons of ECS:
- Some neighborhoods don't allow fencing
- Dog can hang out anywhere in yard within the line
- Relatively easy to install
- Relatively easy to "train" dog on
- Doesn't keep people out
- Doesn't keep animals out (coyotes etc.)
- Collar battery can die
- If dog sees something more valuable on other side of invisible line, often times the dog goes for it
- Once dog leaves yard, it won't return on its own
- It "works" by shocking your dog
- In most cases the potency of the shock needs to increase for fence to continue to work
- It's often used as a babysitting for the dog resulting in an increase in unwanted behaviors.
- If outside unsupervised and the dog takes off, you don't know when or in which direction
- The wire can be damaged causing a malfunction in the fence without you knowing
- People walking by results in the dog inside the ECS charging the line and scaring the passerby
- Barrier frustration (can be worse than with a fence because that barrier contains something painful)
These are just some things to consider when trying to decide which is right for you. If you are going to go the route of a containment system I highly recommend a real fence. As you can see by the pros and cons I listed, it is safer option. Additionally, I highly recommend not leaving your dog outside unsupervised. This is when most dogs develop or rehearse the unwanted behaviors we try so hard to prevent. (e.g. barking, digging, etc.)
As you've probably heard, last month ADGTK Training Center officially opened. The training center offers a variety of group classes from puppy class, to agility classes, to basic manners, to reactive dog classes and much more. Have you considered group classes? Have you wondered what the benefits of group classes are?
Group classes have lots of benefits. One of the main benefits is the wonderful socialization that your dog can get. This socialization happens because of the association your dog will build between seeing all the other dogs and getting lots of awesome rewards. It can be flat out fun for your dog. (* This is referring to training centers that are using up-to-date training methods. If training centers are still using aversive methods like choke chains, prong collars etc. it can have a negative effect on your dog.) So when done correctly, your dog will associate other dogs with awesome stuff. This association in turn will cause your dog to really enjoy other dogs.
Another awesome benefit is getting to practice all these skills in a high distraction environment. It is one thing if your dog can sit or lie down at home. But can he do it out in public? If he can do it in a room full of other people and dogs in theory he can do it just about anywhere. For most dogs, working in this environment is challenging at first, but after a week or two they get into the swing of things and start responding very well.
And finally, it's fun! I love taking classes with my dog. Not only do I love it, he loves it too. An hour long class will really whoop your dogs butt. (Mentally) By introducing new skills, or working hard on sharpening up old skills, your dog will feel tired after. If you haven't taken a group class with your dog, I highly recommend it!
For more information on my group class click here!
Below is a short video explaining what my puppy class is all about! If you love puppies, I recommend watching it.
Something about dogs... Maybe it's because most people have one, or have had one, makes most people a self proclaimed expert. Also, there has been dog training on tv over the past decade resulting in even more experts. Let's play a game. Post in your Facebook status any dog training question and see how many different answers you get. Most of you will get a lot of different answers. I do understand that once someone has done something and it has worked for them they do feel comfortable giving advice to others about how they did it. I get that. But teaching dogs is different than fixing a leaky faucet. If you do something accidentally to mess up a faucet it isn't the end of the world. It's just a faucet. But if we take incorrect advice in regards to teaching our dogs it can go horribly wrong. If you view dogs like I do then you don't look at them as leaky faucets that can just be replaced.
Where Should I Get Advice?
Should you ask your friends? Check the internet? Hire a trainer? Go to the library? Does anyone go to the library anymore?
As you can see there are a lot of potential sources out there. The internet is probably the main way people look up information these days. This is equally as troubling. To be honest, it can be just as bad as taking advice from a friend or a stranger.
The internet is full of self proclaimed experts. You can even find incorrect information on big companies websites. Recently I saw a big pet food company that was still talking about ways to train your dog that were discovered decades ago and were proven to be incorrect decades ago... It's bad.
My advice is to be careful. Look for an author of the article you're reading. If you see an author, do a little research of who they are. How long have they been working with dogs for? Do they have any formal education? Are they giving advice that is telling you to be "alpha" or "pack leader." (If they are they need more education.) If they are also giving advice telling you that your dog needs a strong hand or are giving any advice that you need to physically correct your dog.
Should I Hire A Trainer?
If you're having difficulty accomplishing something with your dog then my answer would be yes. Hiring a qualified trainer can be very beneficial and make your job easier. But once again, how do you know your potential trainer is a good fit? How do you know that trainer knows what s/he is doing? Click here to read more on this topic and to help you find the right trainer. Ultimately though hiring "the right" trainer can make life with your dog much easier. If you click those orange letters there is a lot of advice on what to look for and where to locate your help.
Why Is Taking Random Advice A Bad Idea?
As I mentioned above, dogs are not leaky faucets. They are living, breathing creatures that have a brain. They are smart, social, and easily impressionable. This means that if we do something incorrectly it can have side effects. If my dog is doing something wrong and I decide to resort to doing something physical to stop it, this may result in my dog now fearing me. I mention "something physical" because most of the advice you will receive from random people is going to come in the form of physically punishing your dog. While I'm not saying that it definitely won't work, what I am saying is that there will more than likely be side effects. For example; If my dog is play biting my arm and I decide to whack him on the nose for doing so, it may stop the play biting, but it could also result in a dog that now views human hands as a source of pain and could ultimately result in my dog biting someone who is just innocently reaching out to pet him. It's things like this that a lot of people don't take into consideration. Most random advice is going to give you an answer that will fix the problem immediately. I am here to tell you that in most cases, something that fixes the problem immediately will have side effects. These side effects will be way worse than the initial problem. You will then decide to call a trainer and it will take a heck of a lot longer to modify.
I'm not saying you need to be a professional trainer to give advice. But I also kind of am. If you are seriously having a behavioral issue with your dog I recommend contacting a certified trainer. They can give you the correct answers you need for curbing the unwanted behavior. Please do not take free advice from random friends. While it won't always come back to bite you in the butt, there will be times where it will. (And I mean literally your dog biting you in the butt.) If any of this sounds harsh or offensive please understand that it isn't my intention. You and your dog's well being is why I am writing this.
A pretty common problem that a lot of people deal with is a dog that eats too quickly. This becomes a problem because it can cause dogs to choke and I have also read that it could contribute to bloat in bigger dogs. Here are some ways to slow your dog down.
Make him work for his food
Instead of putting the food in a bowl, use it for training. Take the food and put it in your pocket. (preferably in a bag.) You can use each individual kibble as a reward, or use multiple for the reward. The cool thing about doing this is it slows your dog down and you can get a ton of repetition in of the things you need to practice.
Make him search out his food
A fun way to feed your dog is to hide the food in different spots. By hiding it in different areas, it's going to slow down how fast he consumes it. Check out the video to see how I teach this!
Use a special bowl or get creative
They make special bowls that have different nodules in them that make your dog fish the food out from within. This causes dogs to slow down as well. Other options are to use muffin tins. Put the kibble in the different muffin spots and then put a tennis ball on top of that. The dog has to move the ball to get the food.
Use a toy designed to slow him down
There are plenty of awesome toys to choose from that will help. These are considered to be "interactive toys." The dog has to manipulate the toy into paying him his food. Check out the video below that shows my dog using his favorite toy, the Monster Ball made by Jolly Pets.
A common problem a lot of people deal with is having their things taken by their dog. These things are often food items, personal items, or just items that could be potentially dangerous to their dog. Regardless, there is a way to curb this behavior. If you've been looking, look no further. I've even made a video so you can see how it's done!
A lot of people end up with sore fingers after a training session with their dog. I've been there, and it's no fun. In the video below I am discussing 3 different approaches towards curbing this unwanted and painful behavior. Remember to be very consistent with these and practice a lot! Doing this once won't change the behavior.
A big accomplishment for me was receiving my certification. This was big because I worked hard for it. It took me nearly 2 years to gather all the hours I needed to take the test. I decided to go the certification route because I wanted to take my new career seriously. Prior to this I was someone who thought I knew a lot of stuff because I watched it on TV.
Currently dog training is an unregulated industry. Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer. Also, pretty much any method can be used "in the name of training." The cool thing about dog training now is that there are more professionals in the field studying dogs than ever. We now know more about dogs than we ever have. With that being said, there are plenty of "trainers" out there that refuse to change their old school ways. They refuse to learn anything new. These old fashioned methods that are still currently being used consist of using things like choke chains, prong collars, shock collars, alpha roles, helicoptering, stomping on paws, knees to chest... The list goes on and on. My goal with this isn't to bash those trainers, it's to point out that anyone can call themselves a dog trainer and some will do some pretty nasty things to your dog "in the name of training."
So where am I going with all this?
As long as this industry is unregulated there will be people working with dogs that in my opinion have no business doing so. I'm hoping by writing this it will help bring awareness. If you are planning on hiring a trainer to help you, do your research. The video below is of my response to the "transparency challenge." As long as the industry is unregulated it is important to ask your potential trainer some questions. Some good questions are, "What happens when my dog does the correct thing?" "What happens when my dog does the incorrect thing?" "What types of "tools" does the trainer use?"
Is a certification everything?
Not necessarily. There are people out there that have the certification/knowledge but still choose to use some of the "methods" I listed above. A certification is a great place to start. But I still recommend asking the important questions. See if the trainer has a website blog/ fb page in which they openly talk about their methods and how they do things. And finally don't let a trainer bully you into bullying your dog. (Dunbar APDT 2014).
Some good places to start your search for a trainer are:
Just don't forget to ask the important questions! Thanks for reading.