Thank you so much for trusting me with your pup for their formal training! Your dog has learned so much and worked incredibly hard these past few weeks. Now it's your turn!
I know how excited you must be to welcome your dog back home! Here are some reminders to make the transition as smooth as possible!
The First Few Days
Dogs typically fall into one of two categories upon returning home. They are either A) excited to be back to the "party" house and believe they are back to no rules or B) are on their best behavior after weeks of strict structure. Whether your pup falls into category A or B, it is important to give them as much structure as possible these next few weeks. Even if it is more structure than you want in the long run, it is always easier to take away structure and give more free time as a privilege, rather than to try to rein them back in if the free time has them feeling wild.
Dogs in category A need plenty of structure to remind them that the same rules that Emily has now apply at home and dogs in category B should be given plenty of structure to maintain their good behavior! Over time (~3-4 weeks depending on the dog and their behavior), you can loosen up and fall into a more comfortable routine of what works best for your individual family.
In order for the ecollar to work properly, it must be fit properly: two finger tightness under the buckle, box on the sides of the neck, and fit high on the neck, above the flat collar. If the ecollar is too loose, it will not make muscle contact and it will not work. Proper fit is imperative for a responsive dog! If you find your dog not responding on their typical level without any distractions, check collar tightness first! Rotate it from side to side every few hours so it does not irritate their skin. If they get wet, be sure to take it off and dry their neck before putting it back on.
-To turn the ecollar on, press and hold the "L" button on the back for 3 seconds. Once it is on, press and hold the same button for 3 seconds to turn it off. If you tap that button once, a light will flash. If you tap it twice, the light will stay solid. If you tap it a third time, the light will turn off.
-The flashing “1D” on the front stands for 1 Dog Unit. It will continue to flash. This ecollar remote does have the ability to be paired to 2 collars.
-The “T” button is vibrate. This is a suggestion that we use for momentum (come to me or go to place). There are no levels of vibrate.
-The black “S” button is the stimulation button and it corresponds to the dial with numbers. The numbers go from 0-100. We always leave our ecollar set on the dog's working level (the lowest level they feel and respond to), which is generally a 10-20 depending on the dog. Remember the concert anaology: when your dog is distracted, they will require a higher level of stimulation to match the level of distraction. The red "S" button is stimulation on 5 units higher than the black button.
☞ The ecollar is a communication tool! We have to use it in order to get good at it and to communicate well with our dog. We always want to start the ecollar at the lowest level the dog will typically feel and respond to (their working level) and go up on the level until they respond. The level of stimulation needs to match the level of distraction. Higher distractions will need a higher level of stimulation. *Vibrate does not correspond to levels. If your dog ignores vibrate, you MUST switch to stim.*
-To use the ecollar: have the remote set on your dog's working level. When you say the command, hold down vibrate or working level stim until your dog responds appropriately. Once your dog is following through with the command, release the button. Pressure motivates (feeling the ecollar tells our dogs we want something from them), but the release teaches (tells them they did the correct behavior). If your dog does not respond appropriately, switch from vibrate to stim or give the dial a small turn. Repeat until your dog follows through with the command.
-Leave the ecollar on anytime you are awake and with your dog. Even if you aren't actively "training," be sure to have the ecollar on in case you need it. 100% of the time you give your dog a command, it should be paired with the ecollar. This is how we achieve consistency.
-If there is an emergency, such as your dog running towards the road or chasing a deer, do not slowly turn up the dial! Do a BIG turn on the dial and get your dog back to you! No number on the remote will ever hurt your dog like getting hit by a car or getting lost in the woods.
Recall is defined as your dog coming all the way to your feet and waiting to be released. Our recall word is, "here." Only use "here" if you want your dog to come all the way to your feet. It is very important that we keep it black and white so that if there is an emergency, it is clear the dog shouldn't come halfway towards us or near us, but come all the way to us.
How to recall your dog: Say your dog's name once to get their attention. Then use your recall cue, "here" and at the same time, hold down the vibrate button (T button). Once they head in your direction, release the T button and praise them! The praise will help draw them all the way in. If they get distracted and go off course, start vibrate until they head in your direction again until they get all the way to your feet. Keep them with you by putting them in a sit or loving on them. Once you are ready for them to leave you, release them on your terms with "free."
Place is defined as getting on an object and staying there. A place object will have defined edges, such as a place cot, a bed, a crate, the scale at the vet, etc. Place is never the ground or something undefined, like a porch or deck.
Place is great for management! Anytime you want your dog to be out with you but you need them to be calm or under control, they should be on place. Place is the duct tape of the dog world: it will fix anything! Anytime you aren't sure what you should be doing with your dog, place is going to be your "go-to."
Place can be practiced for any length of time and should be done in long segments on a daily basis. Great opportunities to practice place are: during breakfast first thing in the morning, during cooking and eating time at night, while the kids are doing homework and you need the dog to be quiet and not distracting, when you have guests over and don't want your dog jumping on them or begging for attention, when you're watching TV and want your dog to be calm and hang out, when you're at the grandparents' house and don't want your dog zooming around, etc. As long as you have a place cot, you have the ability to manage your dog!
Place is mutually exclusive. When your dog is on place, they cannot be: counter surfing, begging for food, chewing up something in another room, eating something they shouldn't be, chasing the cat, jumping on the kids, etc. Anytime you are having issues with these naughty behaviors, your dog should be on place!
How to place your dog: Stand near the object you would like your dog to place on. When you have your dog's attention by saying their name, use your cue "place" while holding down the "T" vibrate button. Once your dog has all 4 paws on place, release the button. Once on place, play the game: the ground is lava! If a paw comes off place, use vibrate until all 4 paws are back on place. If your dog isn't responding to vibrate or repeatedly comes off place, switch to stimulation. Continue to increase the stimulation level if necessary if your dog continues to push the boundaries.
Your dog should not get off place until you release them with "free." Anytime your dog leaves place before you release them, immediately put them back!
Heel is defined as calm, focused walking with the dog's right ear at your left pant seam. Any deviation from this is no longer a proper heel. Heel is NOT sniffing, exploring, playing, pulling, going potty, hunting, etc. Heel is only calm, focused walking. Anytime you are traveling with your dog on leash, they should be in a heel.
For heel, be sure to have your ecollar and prong collar on your dog. The prong collar will always be the highest collar on your dogs neck (right behind their ears), the ecollar will fit right below it, and the flat collar will be below that. The prong collar should fit the circumference of your dog's neck. This is important in order for it to work correctly! If it is loose enough to slide over their head or slide down their neck, it is too loose! Attach the leash to the ring that swivels on the prong. Only use the prong collar when heeling your dog.
How to heel your dog: Anytime your dog's right ear leaves your left pant seam, use a "pop, pop, pop" on the prong collar and/or working level stim on the ecollar until they are back into position. Imagine a place cot at your side. If your dog leaves the place cot, you use ecollar until all 4 paws are back on. If your dog leaves heel position, use the prong collar or ecollar until they are completely back in the correct position. You are allowed to use the prong collar, ecollar, or both at the same time. What matters is that you're being effective! If you remind the dog to heel and they do not make an effort to get back into position, it is only a matter of time before they begin pulling. Don't race your dog; be sure they match your walking speed and not the other way around!
Sit is defined as bottom on the ground and down is defined as elbows on the ground. These are both stable commands, meaning our dog should stay in their sit or down until they are release. There is no need to say "stay" because it is implied. These commands are great to use when we don't have a place cot, but want a "stay" behavior. Sit should only be done for short amounts of time (~30 seconds), for longer durations, be sure to put your dog in a down.
How to ask for sit: when your dog is near you, say "sit" and either pull staight up on the leash, or use working level stimulation. Once your dog's bottom is on the ground, release the pressure. If your dog gets up before you release them, ask for sit again and repeat as necessary util you release them with "free."
How to ask for down: first have your dog near you in a sit. Once they are in a sit, stand up but point down when you say "down." Use working level stimulation or downward pressure on the prong collar. If you bend over instead of standing up, your dog will likely leave their sit to come close to you and not lay down. Anytime they get up before you release them, immediately put them back in the sit and down. Down is a lot harder than place! Be sure to practice frequently.
You may use your ecollar to correct any naughty behavior. This includes: counter surfing, jumping on people, sniffing/eating things they shouldn’t, getting into the trash, digging, barking, whining, etc. Always use the stimulation (black S) button, not vibrate (T) for naughty behavior. A correction for naughty behavior should be paired with a negative marker, such as “no,” “eh-eh” or “off.” The behavior will justify the level of stimulation. So sniffing grass where are dog recently marked might warrant a 15 on the collar, but standing on the kitchen counter eating chocolate cupcakes might warrant a 50 on the ecollar. If you regularly correct your dog for the same behavior and it continues (like jumping!), be sure to start increasing the level of stimulation. *The best way to correct naughty behavior is, “don’t do that, do this instead.” If your dog is barking at someone walking by the house outside, correct your dog for barking (“No” paired with stimulation), then immediately put them on place. This redirection will help the dog not go right back to the same naughty behavior.
Tips for Taking Dogs to Public Places
I love the ability to take my well-behaved dogs with me to all sorts of place, from shopping at Lowes, to coffee shops, to breweries and vineyards. If you’re interested in taking your pup with you to a public place, here are some reminders:
When in public, you will always want to keep your dog in a command: rotating between sit, down and heel. This will prevent your dog from pulling on the leash, going up to strangers, scavenging from crumbs under tables, etc. So before taking your dog anywhere, make sure your dog’s sit, down and heel are going well at home! If you are struggling to keep your down in their down at home, it’s only going to be harder in public!
Prior to being in public, make sure your ecollar is charged and that you have your prong collar and ecollar on. Don’t wait until you’re struggling to put on your equipment, be prepared!
It never hurts to give your dog a nice heel walk before taking them somewhere. Heel can be a great mental and physical exercise and get your dog tuned in and calmed down before going to a much more exciting environment.
Don’t change your expectations for obedience in public! Just because you’re somewhere new doesn’t mean heel position can be a little looser or your dog doesn’t have to down when you say down. In fact, it should be the opposite! Give your dog as much management and the least amount of wiggle room as possible so that they are focused and behaved.
It is imperative to be polite and respectful when having your dog in public. Under NO circumstance should your dog ever be allowed in places that don’t allow dogs, or allowed to go up to strangers, jump on counters, bark, whine, or be disruptive in any way. It is a privilege to have our dogs in public and we (ourselves and our dogs!) must be polite and respectful of others. If you are struggling to manage your dog, please take him home and give me a call.
Finally, I would encourage everyone to advocate for their own dogs. Do not ever allow any (I mean it, never!) on-leash greetings with other dogs. If your dog is working in a command (heel, sit or down), feel free to ask others to not pet your dog because they are working. If you would like to allow people to pet your dog, be sure that your dog is listening and behaving. Do not reward naughty, overly excitable, unmanagable behavior to be rewarded in public with affection from strangers!
Field Work Follow Up - Field and Family Graduates Only
Your bird dog is home, how exciting! The most important thing to consider is that your pup has had relatively little (just 4 weeks) of exposure to gunfire. In the big picture of their life, this is a very small amount of time! Therefore, it is imperative to take precautions when continue to expose your dog to gunfire until they are a seasoned pro. It only takes one bad experience to make a dog gushy and there is no situation that would be worth that! Always, always error on the side of caution with gunfire and never put your dog in a situation where they might be spooked.
For their first season, only shoot over your dog when they are in drive. That means they are excited and actively hunting. Whether you have a pointing or flushing dog, ONLY shoot over your dog if they are chasing a bird that they produced. If your dog isn't aware that the bird flushed and doesn't see it for whatever reason, do not shoot at that bird! It is extremely important that the dog see the bird that is being shot at so that they are in drive and aware of the situation. Shooting at a bird that the dog does not see could surprise them and scare them.
For your first few hunts, I recommend putting out 3-5 birds and going alone or with one other person. I would not put out more than 5 birds and I would not take multiple people to shoot so that it isn't overwhelming. When it comes to training, less it's more. Too many birds could get your dog too excited (we call that Bird Drunk). Quality over quantity!
Continuing to develop their natural retrieve is an important skill to build at home! The better your recall is outside of the presence of birds, the better your retrieve will be. Keep recalls snappy and sharp! Practice retrieving with your place cot and bumper. When your dog has the opportunity to retrieve a bird, it is so important to not just snatch it away from them. Recall them to you and love them for a bit before taking the bird. To get the bird from your dog, pull up on their collar until they drop it. Do not ever try to pull the bird away from them! This will create bad habits that are difficult to fix.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will my dog have to wear this ecollar?
The ecollar is not a “temporary” fix. It is not something to be outgrown like training wheels. Especially when it comes to having dogs off leash, it is a safety measure. So just like we will never drive carefully enough to not have to wear our seatbelts anymore, it is always the safest to keep the ecollar on for the duration of your pup’s life.
Inside, the ecollar should be worn for at least the next 3-4 weeks until your dog is consistently, reliably and willingly responding to your cues. If you have to nag your dog or constantly remind them to stay on place, you aren’t ready to try place without the ecollar! Always error on the side of caution and use the ecollar as much as necessary. Remember, it’s a communication tool! You should be using it to communicate well with your pup!
What do I do if my dog breaks their command before I release them?
Anytime your dog leaves a stable command, such as a sit, down or place, before you release them, immediately put them back into the command! With repetition, they will quickly learn that they might as well stay in their command because if they get up, you’ll put them right back. Be sure to use your ecollar when getting them back in the command. If they keep leaving their command, increase the level on your remote a little each time.
I know we have covered a lot, but with practice and consistency, you will be confident in working your dog! The best way to get good at using the ecollar is to use it frequently so put in the work up front, that way you’re comfortable using the ecollar whenever you need it. If you ever have any questions, always feel free to reach out. I am always available for calls, emails or meeting up in person!