Gaining reliability

The reason that dogs don't obey all the time is that they are gamblers. "Let's see if I can do what I wanna do THIS time!"

I recommend this method to ensure reliability. BTW either a dog is reliable or he's not. Reliability means 100%. My bottom line is that if the dog is off leash and he's not wearing the Ecollar you can't give him a correction and therefore you can't guarantee reliability. Some people don't need reliability but others, particularly those with Search and Rescue dogs,

Personal Protection dogs or Police Service Dogs; DO need reliability. But just because you own a pet, rather than a working dog, doesn't mean that you too, can't have a reliable dog.

When you start training there's a temptation to "Let's see if he's getting it." That is to give a command and not give a stimulation. Usually, if you've been following my protocol, the dog WILL perform. But you've just taught him a valuable lesson, one that will cause you grief later on, even though it's not apparent now. It just takes one of these "tests" (more "tests" is worse) to teach the dog this lesson. This lesson is that a stimulation doesn't always come when the command is given. When this occurs before the dog has the habit of performing every time, it can end in an undesirable result, unreliability.

Automatic Corrections

I recommend that people use "automatic corrections" that is they give a stimulation EVERY time they give a command, even if the dog is in the act of performing the movement, for the first two months of their training. That means 60 days of working the dog, not 60 days, elapsed time. At the end of those 60 days give a command but don't give a stimulation. As long as the dog performs you're OK. Start a count and if you get to 30 days (of training, not 30 calendar days) and you haven't had to give a stimulation because the dog didn't perform, you can remove the Ecollar. But if just once the dog didn't perform and you had to give him a stimulation along with a second command, start your count over again.

Restarting Your Count

At some point later on, your dog will gamble. That is he'll be more interested in doing what he wants to do than obeying your command. When he does this put the Ecollar back on for a week of automatic stimulations. Then you can start your 30-day count again.

For those working dogs mentioned above, Search and Rescue dogs, Personal Protection dogs and Police Service Dogs I recommend that they wear the Ecollar all the time, when they're deployed. For those dogs we often can't afford nor have time for a second command.

How Reliable is Reliable Enough?

This is a question that only you can answer. If you don't mind having to call your dog three times then neither do I. But it's not acceptable for a police service dog and can cause serious problems with SAR dogs and pets as well. If it takes three commands to get your dog to sit as he runs toward a highway, you might find that he sits in the middle of the road.

If you have the dog wear the Ecollar as long as he's outside the home or whenever he deploys you have the ability to correct him if he doesn't perform. If the Ecollar is back home, you can't.

Lou Castle is currently a Sergeant for a medium size police agency in the Los Angeles area of California. He has been in law enforcement for 29 years. In addition to working as a patrol Officer, Lou has worked many specialized assignments such as a K-9 handler, Trainer and Instructor, as Traffic Officer, in Vice and Narcotics, SWAT, Detectives, as an investigator on SIT (a liability/shooting investigation team), Field Training Officer, Personnel and Training, and Department Rangemaster and Use of Force Instructor.

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