Dog Runs Away From Him When Off Leash: Will An E-collar Help

George wrote to me with an interesting question about what happens when his dog runs away from him when off leash:

Hi Adam: I know it is good to let your dog roam freely on a long line. I have been using an e-collar and a pinch collar (I use the pinch collar at this point only for walking). My question is: if I let my dog roam freely with an e collar instead of a 50 ft long line and my dog decides to run… will an e collar correction make him stop running assuming that happens?

“When My Dog Runs Away From Me,
Will An E-collar Correction Stop Him?”

dog runs away
dog runs away

Also how do you use an e collar to train your dog to go down ? I have been using your techniques for about 6 months and my dog is really transforming to the point where it is a pleasure now. My dog was a high energy 15 month male Victorian bulldog who was very stubborn and I am now at the point where he has full trust in me, respects me and it really is a pleasure working with him, thanks to your techniques that I have been using consistently. I would have never thought I would have been able to make him hold a down stay from 30 yards away for at least 10 min and listen to my release command (it really is a good feeling being able to do that). I just need to teach how to go down without physical contact preferably using the e collar.

Thanks in advance.  — George.

Will An E-collar Really Help When Your Dog Runs Away From You?

Adam replies: Yes, it will. But I recommend that you use the long line with the e-collar the first few times so that you can use the line to “direct him” back to you. Otherwise he might not understand what the correction is for. Also– as the intensity of the distraction increases, so must the intensity of your stim.

To use the e-collar to teach the ‘down’: It’s best to revert back to the same technique you used to teach the ‘down’ with the leash, but hold the e-collar in your right hand instead of the leash, say, “Down!” and then tap, tap, tap on the e-collar whil you push behind the front shoulders and rock the dog into the down position (just as you would with the leash.

The e-collar setting for the initial obedience introduction should be set so that the dog just barely feels the stim.

Do enough repetitions and sessions until you see the dog start to do it with only the stim and no physical touch. Then it’s just a matter of reinforcement and proofing, same as you would with the leash– but with the ecollar the whole process goes much faster.

The main thing to be aware of is that the dog:

1. Understands the command: You need to ‘re-teach’ the behavior with the e-collar, initially.

2. Understands that the stim is coming from you: If the dog is showing aggression toward another command and feels the stim but does not associate it with you, he will associate it with the other dog and this will increase his aggressive response. This is why detractors of the e-collar will tell you that the e-collar increases aggression. It’s not true: Misuse of the e-collar increases aggression. In contrast, intelligent use of the e-collar will decrease aggression, dramatically.

In sum, the e-collar can be used to both fix aggression problems and to improve your recall command when your dog runs away from you.