Akeisha wrote to me with some very good questions. I’ve included her letter (and my responses) below:
[Akeisha] Hi its Akeisha again. I do see what you mean if it is on all the time the dog will soon forget it is on and then will behave regardless. Ok, so the dog never wears a buckle collar again? This is what irks me. I want to be able to control the dog regardless of what collar is on not just the pinch or it could be no collar at all and the dog still behaves. What if the owner for some reason takes off the collar then they put the buckle collar on for ID but then forget the pinch collar? Then there is no control.
[Adam, Owner of Dogproblems.com: ] WRONG! The dog gets conditioned. Take off the collar for awhile. Doesn’t matter.
[Akeisha] Do you ever in the training go back to the buckle collar after months of what you recommend with a dog that is happy with doing the commands?
[ Adam: ] Yes, the dog does the command because he is happy and he likes it. But eventually, there will be something that tempts him. This is where conditioning comes in.
Think of it like this: You’ve lived in the same house for 10 years, right? You get up in the middle of the night and you reach for the light switch that is to the LEFT of the door. Pretty soon, you get conditioned to reach out to the LEFT of the door.
One day you travel and stay in a hotel. You wake up in the middle of the night and reach out to the LEFT of the door for the switch… even though you cognitively saw that the switch is on the RIGHT.
In fact, you may wake up for several nights– perhaps even weeks or months– and still reach out to the LEFT, even though the switch is now on the right. Some people will continue reaching to the LEFT for the rest of their lives. Some will begin reaching to the right.
[Akeisha] Motivational corrections if on the right dog won’t frighten them or make them hate you I know but aren’t there other ways except using the collar that will eventually be established thought training that will allow you to take the collar off and have control?
[ Adam: ] Yeah, this way you can take the collar off and have control, ONCE THE DOG IS CONDITIONED. But eventually you’ll have to go back and reinforce, for most dogs. And definitely if you start expecting to work the dog around new distractions that it’s never been proofed around, such as chickens if the dog has never seen chickens.
Look, I don’t make the rules. The dog is not a robot that you can suddenly say, “He’s done” and expect him to act consistently for the rest of his life. Like any relationship you have with another person, boundaries need to be established and maintained. The dog is like your wife or husband& they will eventually test you.
[Akeisha] Last question, how can the dog not realize the don’t have it on since it feels a lot different than the buckle? Its like my id around my neck at school I have gotten used to it but I do realize when it is off? Just for the record I have no problem with pinches, many members in my 4-H club use them and they work great on the right dog.
[ Adam: ] Because the way you should be using the pinch collar is that the dog (since he has limited reason and logic) does not KNOW that it is the pinch collar that allows you to give him good corrections. But it’s more than the pinch collar. If I put the dog in a number of small yards, with no collar on … and I’m able to chase him down and make him come back to me, if he doesn’t come when I call… then the dog will learn THE UNDERLYING PREMISE that I can make him do it, if he doesn’t. So, the pinch collar and the long line make my job easier, but ultimately, the dog knows (or he thinks at least) that I am a man of my word and when I tell him to do something: If he doesn’t do it, I’m going to make him do it. And his life will be a lot more fun if he does it willingly. So the dog starts to extrapolate this principle to other commands, too.
[Akeisha] Hope I am not being irritating I just like to know why certain trainers value certain methods over others since I love competing in obedience with my dog.
[Adam:] Keep training. -Adam