View Full Version : Help! Electronic Collar, Books, DVDs, I need guidance!

Charley's Mom
18th November 2006, 09:47 PM
We had a free visit from a trainer in our area but didn't realize until he was in our home that this company uses electronic collars. To use a poor word it really was a shock to our family (husband and daughter) and took awhile to recover. It was not what we expected.

Anyway, he put the collar on Charley, explaining that the collars are not the old "electric shock collars" that they used to be but more like a vibration like when a phone cell vibrates in your pocket.

He pressed the remote as Charley went to jump up onto where my daughter was sitting. The trainer said "Down". Charley looked around and got down. He had his tail between his legs, his ears down and his eyes had that sunken, fearful look.

For some reason he went over to the trainer and sat between his 2 legs for the entire time that he gave his sales pitch to us. Charley is friendly to anyone and everyone but that is what he does when he is afraid or does not feel like things are familiar. He has done it with me when I've put his leash on him and I walk out the back door instead of the front. We go out the front door for "fun" things : car rides, walks. The back door with a leash is unusual because he usually is allowed out without a leash so if I've tried to have him go potty outside in the rainy weather on a leash he does that thing where he goes between my legs and looks up at me like "What's going on Mom?"

So now that I've been on this website I've read so much about collars and the personality of Cavaliers and my instinct tells me that electronic collars and my Charley do not go together. I guess this is a very long story just to get it out of my system just to ask what type of training is good for a Cavalier?

I've bought several books, read several different things on different websites and have gotten so confused that I feel like when I was a mother of my infant daughter and my head is cluttered with what the "right way to go" is! My husband keeps telling me we have to be consistent and I know that but I can't decide what method or methodology to be consistent in!

When we first got Charley and I watched the Dog Whisperer on TV I thought for sure that was the way to go. Now I think the totally opposite. It scares me what I could have done. I bought a DVD that I found on the internet and when I started watching it I realized within the first couple of minutes that the person who made it was going to make my Cavalier fat because of the amount of food she was encouraging me to give Charley to praise him for when he does things well.

Has anyone ever felt this confused? I've never raised a dog before! Sometimes I just feel like I just have to stop researching everything and take a break from it because it has become so all encompassing in my life. But I can't do that!!!! :?

19th November 2006, 03:36 AM
HI!!! :) First let me tell you to follow your instinct !! Cavaliers are very very sensitive doggies and they really do take it personal even when they get in trouble.

That being said I have had a ball training Kosmo. I took him to a training class that uses only positive reinforcement. When he doesn't do the ring thing I ignore it, and when he does he gets praise, click and treat, good boy.. all of these things. Clicker training has worked wonders for us. :) Training should be FUN!! It's also a good way for you to bond to your furry baby. :)

19th November 2006, 03:47 AM
i use the clicker and treats with training as well. you have to subtract that amount of food from their meal, or you can even use their kibble as the training treat. you want to make the treats small so that eat it up fast so you can move to the next trick. those collers scar me. i wouldn't want that around my next. you can also use play and petting as a reward for doing a good job. or like on walks, if they are pulling, you just don't move. the reward for not pulling is that they get to continue the walk. there are lots of other things that dogs see as a reward than just food. and there can never be enough, wow what a good boy/girl's in the world!

19th November 2006, 09:38 AM
First of all how old is Charley and how old was he when you got him ?
This can make some difference to the method of training used.

I personally would never use a shock collar on any breed I think they are cruel and your animal will not enjoy the training and learning process but do things out of fear ? Not something I would want to be part of.

I have a few issues with my adult cavaliers and nearly all of them stem from where I have gone wrong with training or mainly in my case the socialisation. :shock: The boys were my first doggies too and I did not know what I was doing.

Cavaliers are a very smart breed despite what some people will say and they are so eager to please you. I would recommend a training program that encourages positive reinforcement and ignores negative behaviour initially, I would also recommend joining an obedience club where you can get some tips and socialise your little man with others.

If from there you start to have hard times with particular area of your training maybe then you can resort to something stronger or some more research so you don't wear yourself out.

I must say I have resorted to using a water spray bottle for certain things like excessive silly barking, jumping up at guests etc. Some people would call this cruel but it is on the finest mist and it works. That is about as cruel as I would be willing to get.
I had a few trainers come to talk to me about my boys back when I thought they were the problem and not me :sl*p: and some of the things these people expect you do are barbaric, one place wanted me to use a choke chain for everything and give it a good yank, another wanted me to growl at the dog and another tip was to throw metal chains next to the dog to shock them when they were doing something naughty. I had to laugh and kick them out before I did a little more than growl at them :x

With regards to food rewards you can use low calorie treats such as apple, carrot etc if your man will have them or you can just take off the amount from their meal each day. The treats really only need to be tiny, its more the action of getting a treat than the actual taste of it.
There are also methods used where you can use a toy or clicker for dogs that are not food orientated.

Good luck and my best advice is to stay calm and enjoy the process then your little mate will too. :flwr:

19th November 2006, 09:50 AM
oh please dont use the electric collar like the trainer said!! it will only scare your poor baby to bits and make him fear you and hate training!! even though he said it doesnt hurt your dog it would definitely have some sort of shock-pain-infliction thing. as said above positive training is always the best method and it works best with good results! i would in my opinion not use this trainer but find someone who uses only positive methods (praise, rewards)..clicker training is a very effective and you will find that many people on this board has used this method and had pleasing results
just a quick passage about clicker training from a website incase you hadnt heard of it.

“Clicker training” is the popular term for the training or teaching method based on what we know about how living organisms learn.

Research has shown that any creature—whether a dog, cat, dolphin, parrot, fish, horse, llama, or person—is more likely to learn and repeat actions that result in consequences it desires and enjoys. So clicker trainers provide consequences desired by their animal in exchange for actions or behaviors desired by their trainers.

We call these consequences “rewards” and the process is called “reinforcement.” Clicker training, therefore, is a positive-reinforcement-based system of training.
When an animal intentionally performs a behavior in order to bring about a desired consequence, as clicker trained animals do, they are learning in a way that researchers call “operant conditioning.”

Animals (and people) may also associate an action, event, place, person, or object with a consequence, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The more a certain event or environment is paired with a particular consequence, the stronger the association. This type of learning is called “classical conditioning” and represents reflexive or automatic behavior, rather than intentional behavior.

While clicker training initially employs classical conditioning, it quickly becomes operant conditioning as soon as the animal intentionally repeats an action in order to earn a reward. Training through operant conditioning results in purposeful behavior, while training through classical conditioning results in habitual behavior.

The difference between an animal that behaves with purpose, rather than by habit, is vast. Clicker trained or operantly conditioned animals try to learn new behaviors. They remember behaviors even years later because they were aware of them as they learned them, rather than acquiring them without awareness. They develop confidence because they have control over the consequences of their actions. They are enthusiastic because they expect those consequences to be pleasurable.

with the food thing you could either take a small proportion out of his daily food or use really small bits of some sort of food..for example i find tiny bits of cheese work well with my two...or bits of carrot or small pieces of the liver treats

anyway goodluck, hope everything turns out alright :flwr:

19th November 2006, 03:17 PM
My previous dog Honey, she was a mongrel and her one big problem was persistent barking. I tried everything to stop it but to no avail and being in a block of flats, I had to find a way to stop it.

I did eventually buy a static correction collar for her as a very last resort. I only ever had to have it switched on a couple of times, after that, it was just put on but switched off and I always gave her a treat when it went on and when it came off. She had no adverse reaction to the collar and responded well. However, she had quite a thick neck and was bigger than a Cavvy.

I also tried the collar on myself. I can't say that it hurt exactly but it wasn't pleasant and once I had tested it that way, no way was I going to do it again, I didn't like the way it felt.

Once Honey overcame her barking issues, I got rid of the collar and never looked back.

I think in SOME cases, the correction collars can be good (like with Honey) but mostly, I wouldn't actually recommend them to anyone. I feel that they can be abused if they get into the wrong hands and a dog can suffer as a result.

I won't ever use one again, as I said, it was a last resort with Honey, I had tried to overcome the barking for over a year before I resorted to one.

I guess what I am trying to say is that on rare occasions where absolutely nothing else has worked, they can be useful but shouldn't be used as a be all and end all.

The best way is to reward with kindness and ignore the bad.

As for putting one of those collars on a Cavvy, no, I think that is a bad idea, they have quite small necks really and are only small dogs, the collars themselves are heavy to wear and even without the correction, would be uncomfortable for a cavvy.

Hope this lot makes sense, am half asleep here, Bertie woke me up trying to eat me this mornig at some ungodly hour! lol!


19th November 2006, 07:36 PM
Hi Charley's Mom. Your gut instinct is so right on this. Please see if you can enroll Charley and yourself in a positive style clicker training class. You will be amazed at what you will both accomplish! And both you and your dog will love it.

We have had dogs for many years. I first went to training classes with a German shepard 30 yrs. ago. It was jerks/pops with a choker collar style. But it was the only style available back then. All fear and punishment based. When we got our first cavalier I went to a clicker trainer class and at first thought how could this work? Well, not only did it work but my dogs LOVE to train and learn very very fast (much faster than old style). They have also learned to puzzle out solutions!

If you want to check for a trainer near you, you could maybe start with this listing for NY:


Here's a good article about positive training. It is from the website of the trainer we used, Pam Dennison, who has written some great books about positive training and stuff.

http://www.positivedogs.com/articles.html Why I switched to positive training

Ted Turner is a famous positive trainer and this is his line: "If I can get a killer whale to pee in a cup, think how much you can train your dog with positive methods."

Hope this helps!

Darby's Mom
19th November 2006, 09:11 PM
I reiterate what everybody else has said.....

Go with your gut, my dear.

Although static (shock) correction works very well with some breeds, I truly believe that Cavaliers are simply WAY to sensitive to use ANY type of punishment.

My husband was a K9 police officer for many years with a sweet but stubborn german shepherd - we used a static correction collar with fantastic results, but I would never ever even think about using it for little Darby.

Positive reinforcement works SO much better on these little guys! Anything in the world to make you happy... this is what their little world revolves around, and this is what makes Cavaliers so wonderful, special & unlike any other breed I have ever seen. The worst punishment to a Cavalier is when they feel you are upset or dissatisfied with them.

I would definitely stay away from the shock collar - all it does is create fear in these little guys (as you so vividly experienced).

Charley's Mom
20th November 2006, 02:51 AM
WOW! I want to thank you all so much for your input. I hope you all realize how much each and every one of you with your words and encouragement, wisdom and experience have been read and absorbed by me. I love this website and I only hope that as time goes on that I can help others.

I have always heard of "clicker training" and actually bought a clicker when we first went out shopping for the puppy but never pursued checking out what exactly to do with it. In the last 24 hours in reading posts and talking with a friend who has a puppy I've come to realize that I am more of a visual learner and that I really do need to enroll myself and Charley in a positive reinforcement class. I am definitely going to check out the websites provided.

You know, I haven't raised a dog but I feel like I do know my Charley. I say to my daughter "I feel like he really wants to please us" I think that it's like being a mom to a baby in some way - you kind of just know. That electronic collar may be useful for certain breeds, to train for particular reasons, but it's not going to work in our home because we are not comfortable with it.

I feel relieved. Just reading info on this website since signing up just a few days ago has taught me so much and enhanced my knowledge of Cavaliers and pointed me in the right direction.

Thank you and I'll keep you updated!


20th November 2006, 01:26 PM
Positive reinforcement with treats won't make your dog fat -- you just need to subtract the amount you offer as treats and use *very small pieces*. Most videos would be showing treats appropriate to the breed being trained. A larger dog can take larger treats. Most trainers suggest not to feed your dog on the day of a training class as that makes them especially eager to earn that reward. :)

I use tiny bits of cheese, catfood kibble as the pieces are tiny, or similar -- i crumble larger bit of dry treats into small fragments. I have three dogs trained only with rewards-based methods and none are fat (indeed, one LOST a third of her body weight during the time she was also going to a training class. :)

Cathy Moon
21st November 2006, 11:00 PM
Charley's Mom, please try to find an APDT certified trainer (CPDT). They are the best!

Any type of 'punishment' or 'correction' will destroy your dog's trust in you.

I have only worked with APDT trainers since having my cavaliers, and when my husband accidentally left the gate opened twice (!) recently, we called Geordie and he came running right back to us to be picked up and loved!

Most people in my neighborhood have to follow their dogs all over the place to get them back if they get loose.

Positive, reward-based training makes all the difference.

26th November 2006, 12:35 PM

Maybe you remeber, that my Annie is whining a lot, for every little thing, but mainly for attention. And a friend told me, that I should by a gentle spray collar, but I really dont know. Her whinig is killing me, and I must admit, that sometimes, after 2 hours of whinig, I should at her and she gets then so scared.... :(
but would a collar like this solve the problem?

Darby's Mom
26th November 2006, 10:16 PM
sometimes, after 2 hours of whinig, I should at her and she gets then so scared.... but would a collar like this solve the problem?

Definitely not! If she is whining because she is scared and insecure, I personally believe that a citronella (spray) collar would just exacerbate things and make it worse (make her even more scared).

It sounds like you would be better with confidence-building exercises with her. A dog that is secure and confident will not beg for attention. Also, don't give her the attention she's demanding when she whines, or you will only worsen the problem by rewarding the whining. Lavish her with love and attention when she is quiet, and ignore her when she is whining.

Remember, it will probably get worse before it gets better - so please be patient with her. Do you engage in any social activities with her to boost her confidence?

Hope this helps! :flwr:

26th November 2006, 11:48 PM
Varja - have you had Annie to the vet to make sure she is not in any pain ?

27th November 2006, 07:23 AM
She is not whining because she is in pain. she is whining because she want attention 24/7. If I maybe dont look at her or play with her for 2 minutes, she starts to whine and that can go on for 2 hours. But I cant play with her all day long.
I never noticed that she is insicure. she is afraid of big dogs, but she is never scared of new situations or people or other things.

I ignore her when she is whinig, that is why I wrote, that she can whine for 2 hours. :D

She also whines on the street, if people dont look at her or give her a cuddle. And than they give me a bad look, like I am doing something to her. :roll:

And after some time of whinig, she goes to the cats and cry to them. but this doesnt help, they dont want to play with her. :-)

we go to agility classes, she has some friend and she plays with them.

Cathy Moon
27th November 2006, 11:48 AM
Glad to hear you're taking her to agility! Agility is the best way to form a healthy bond and help your dog increase his/her self confidence. :flwr: