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.