E-collar Use – When To Use The Nick Or The Continuous Stim

Leslie asks: I am unsure of when to use the nick or the continuous stim. button on my remote with the e collar. I have only used the nick, for example at a low setting when the dog seems to be walking too far in front of me while off leash, as a reminder that I should be his focus. I use the collar at a higher setting if he doesn’t follow my command while off leash. He may be sniffing when I tell him to come and his response is not immediate so I say “no” nick button then issues come command. I have also used the nick button when he barks at the doorbell even when I have told him “quiet”. He also seems to be “transmitter smart” and will stop barking if he sees me get the transmitter. I love training this dog and I love how responsive he is. I want to get it right and not confuse him. – Thanks, Leslie.

Adam replies: Hi, Leslie:

At this point in your training, the dog needs to be wearing a training collar, any time he’s with you and not in the crate. Reference: Three Keys To Successful Behavior Modification, in the book.

I only use the nick feature. Continuous stim is a different approach to the e-collar where the trainer pushes the button (keeping it down) on a low level, says the command, and then releases the button when the dog does the behavior. Some trainers (Jim Dobbs) are masterful at using this approach. I’ve tested it quite extensively and it is not a training style that is either easy to get quick results with, or easy on the dog if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Avoid using the continuous stim, unless you’re working with a trainer who can help you with it.

As for your off leash usage: What you’re going to want to do is this, instead: Call him and give him a tap (stim) immediately as you call him. Do it every time, and you’ll see that he develops instant response to your commands. You’ll get to a point where he’s so conditioned, you probably won’t even need to use the stim every time, after a few months. But most e-collar trainers (myself included) will tell you that if you’re working the dog around various and different distractions in his life, reinforcement is forever. It’s just a way of communicating with the dog.


E-collar For The Ambulation Impaired Dog Handler

Hi Adam,

I’ve been reading the comments about the E-collar and the whole concept is quite interesting. We have never used one before; however, we know of someone who had good success with perimeter training and quieting the bark on their toy dog. My husband, who used to do all the training of our dogs, is now limited by the use of his rolling walker, which is the new norm for him.

One technique that he used to like to use was William Koehler’s lounge line exercise and for obvious reasons, he feel lost not being able to do that anymore. The other day he stated he wished he could find a way to work with the dogs again like he used to, other than teaching the sit/down, etc. We value your opinion highly and if you have any information/training techniques for a person with this sort of a challenge, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, Donna MT


Hi, Donna:

In his time, William Koehler was a giant in the field. He was the Sigmund Freud of dog training. But much like Freud, many of his techniques have been improved upon. I’ve talked with several trainers who knew him personally (and his son, Dick, who just passed away a few years ago). I think his daughter is still active in training– and they’ve said that if W. Koehler was still around, he’d likely be using techniques similar to what I teach.

He was the top trainer for Disney and trained the dogs for most of the films you probably grew up watching and loving.

Anyway– to your point: The easiest way to use the e-collar would be for you to train the dog first with the pinch collar and long line, and then bring the e-collar in, by synchronizing the tug on the leash with a light “stim”.

Once the dog understands the five obedience exercises (sit, down, come, heel, stay) with the pinch collar– and after you’ve spent a week synchronizing the two, you can stop with the leash tug and just use the stim and your dog should understand it. From there, you can transfer it over to your husband.

You can teach the dog to go to a “place board” (use the climb command, and then correct him back onto the board if you haven’t given him the “release” command. And then use the “Come” command to get him to come back to you, gradually extending the distance between running out TO THE BOARD and then back to you.

That’s what I’m doing in this video.

Once your dog understands this exercise, your husband can sit in a chair, send the dog 200 feet away to the board, make him do sits and downs, and then the recall back to him. If you get really tricky with it, you can teach the dog the “drop on recall” too. You husband can give the dog quite a good training workout, without having to get up out of the chair!

Keep me posted.