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BLACKJACK

Dennis Anderson article concering electronics

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Dennis Anderson has an interesting article in the Star Tribune online site concerning electronics and gun dogs. Check it out.

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That is a very intersting article. That should bring on a good discussion. I agree with one thing that's for sure: Sit, Stay, Come, Heel (or whatever commands you want to use) are the foundation of all you want to do.

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Gotta agree with a lot of what Anderson has written in this article. We have not done the 'Lab World' any favors with the dogs we've produced in regards to the average Hunter and pet owner.

I understand what the 'trialer' is looking for and to an extent I have no problem with them breeding down dogs that fit the criteria they are looking for in terms of their style of competition. But 85% of all Lab owners need none of that ramped up exuberance and I do contend that the style of training for retrievers has changed 10 fold over the past 20 years to keep up with the 'new high powered' style of dog we've morphed the breeds into. I got my first two dogs to the Master level and running some quals. and club trials without the use of collars or forcing. Now, it's almost a nessacity. We have totally changed the temperment of the breed in regards to not only hyperactivity, but also tractibility. Very few dogs that are bred or that are being bred, should be bred. Indiscriminate breeding has not only allowed inherited disorders to flourish, but also has given us an unruly, hyperactive lab that is more the norm, than the exception. This small fraction of the breed equation is one of the most overlooked!

That being said, I have pretty much shyed away from all the high power trial breedings. I RESPECT THOSE DOGS AND THEIR HANDLERS IMMENSELY and in noway am I saying that style of dog should not be produced... but I find the average gun dog owner buying from that stock would be akin to buying a race bred thoroughbred horse to be a trail riding pony. It is time for us to take back the breed and begin to produce calm, tractible dogs, that are great companions with manners and a calm tractibilty, that are proportionate and carry all the physical attributes that a lab is suppose to have, vs. buying a pup for the ego of telling everyone what a great pedigree this dog has and how he is bred down from NFC-NAFC Bingo the wonder LAb. We need to remember why the lab became the most popular gun dog and begin to search out those that again are producing them. Once you have had one of these dogs, your eyes will be opened to what you've been missing out on!

With that said, I still believe the collar has a place in the training world. Used correctly, they are very humane, more so than most corrections given directly by the handler through other means. Unfortunatley, many of today's dogs will never achieve any modicum of success wothout the use of a collar. That is a sad statement. It should be a tool used to advance your training, not a required to tool to do your training or worse yet, give you the ability to hunt your dog without losing control of it.

Good Luck!

Ken

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I have not read the article yet, but you raise some very good points, Ken (I love the race horse comparison.) All your insight is spot on...

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Is it possible to provide a link? Or is that against the site rules.

Thanks

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Retriever training is a summer-long exercise

by Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

June 9, 2009

I was at Cabela's in Rogers over the weekend and stumbled onto the dog training section. The presence there of so many electronic dog training collars only confirmed what most people in the retrieving game already know: that most owners of field retrievers today use these collars for training.

In fact, most hunters now go into the shooting field with electronic collars on their retrievers?

Is this really necessary? Or is it a shortcut that now has become the norm — in part because "everyone is doing it'' and in part because many of the retrievers bred in America today need a collar so as to fashion some sort of control over what often are unruly and hyperactive dogs — and need a collar also because of the nature of our field trials and even hunt tests?

A distinction here: I'm not talking about pointing dogs, which for many and varied reasons are trained today, as they have been for decades, using electronic collars. The topic today is only retrievers.

The difference is important not only because retrievers and pointers (or setters) are different types of dogs used for different purposes. Additionally, retrievers and pointers (and setters) have different temperaments and the proper leverage of those temperaments by the trainer is critical to achieving a particular animal's full usefulness.

To those who would argue that an electronic collar is required to train today's retrievers, I would point them to Great Britain, and in fact all of the European countries, where the electronic collar is all but outlawed, and in any case frowned upon in knowledgeable sporting dog circles.

It's in Britain, for example, where Labradors and other retrievers are required to sit quietly for up to an hour while a driven shoot is conducted — a shoot in which hundreds of rounds might be fired (granted, most drives today are smaller than that). During this time, the dog can't so much as whimper or, during a trial, he is eliminated. Similarly, the dog can't move and in fact can't show nervousness or come up off his haunches.

"Breaking,'' or running in, during a drive (or during a walkup) is, of course, out of the question.

Additionally, when these dogs are sent for retrieves, they are required to ignore game in the field that they flush (pheasants, grouse, rabbits, hares, woodcock, snipe) while continuing to the area of the "fall,'' whereupon, if necessary, they must stop upon being whistled by their handlers and take directions to the left, right or back.

If all of this can be accomplished without an electronic collar, then why are the collars so popular here?

Three reasons, I would submit.

One is that it has become the norm, and retriever owners here now expect that a collar should be used.

A second is that American field trials (certainly) require the use of a collar, because corrections must be made at such great distances. Similarly, hunt tests today, particularly at the master level, require — because of the way they're structured — long-distance corrections.

The third reason is that in America we've been breeding so many generations of Labradors now that are capable of taking the collar in their training (particularly the harsher uses associated with the early generation collars, and particularly when collars are used by amateurs unfamiliar with their use and misuse) that we now produce dogs that often can't be trained, or controlled, without a collar — particularly in those instances in which the amateur is unwilling to put in the time necessary to train a retriever "the old way,'' meaning with a leash.

This way also means putting in time obedience-training a dog for months and months, and delaying the time that a dummy is thrown for a retriever, or other field training is begun.

Good examples of what can be accomplished can be found in seeing eye dogs and helping dogs, both of which are trained extremely well in terms of their obedience. Hunters could accomplish the same result, if only they took time to appreciate what can be accomplished without an electronic collar — assuming the same hunters have a training plan they understand, and stick to it.

Best this summer for those retriever owners who have young dogs six to 10 months of age is that they train and re-train "Sit,'' "Stay,'' "Come,'' and "Heel,'' over and over. Only when the dog has learned these lessons should he begin field training.

Keep this in mind: Commonly in Britain, a retriever is not taken into a shooting field until he is fully trained, meaning, trained to take hand and whistle signals at distances of 100 yards and more.

*************************

Ken,

Great post! I couldn't agree more, but my agreement doesn't mean much coming from a first time lab owner. Everyone that I've been around has asked why I'm not using a collar yet...I'm not a field trial guy by any means, but my dog is doing just fine in working with me day by day.

I guess we're an instant gratification and awards culture...We want it all now, the progeny of the dog with the papers that says winner that will be trained after dropping out of the womb.

Anderson gives the best advice in the title-Training dogs is a summer-long activity!

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That's like saying a woodworker should only use hand tools because power tools are shortcut and a path to instant gratification. If a tool does the job more effectively and efficiently, then it becomes the norm.

The way I use my ecollar is no different than using a choke collar, I just have a lot longer leash. My dog actually jumps a lot more when I use the vibrate feature than when I use the nick or constant, but I'm only using 25 to 30 out of 128.

To each his own. Labs4me has it dead on when he says

Quote:
I still believe the collar has a place in the training world. Used correctly, they are very humane, more so than most corrections given directly by the handler through other means. ...... It should be a tool used to advance your training, not a required to tool to do your training or worse yet, give you the ability to hunt your dog without losing control of it.

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does anybody else consider the e-collar a safety feature?

I cant think of any other way to slam the breaks on a dog to prevent a bad situation from happening other than using an ecollar. I just think with the prey drive alot of our hunting dogs have, what if a bird gets up and they chase it into a road way with a vehicle coming?

What if they come across a skunk, rattle snake, racoon etc etc. With out physically being near our dog their is no better way to get your dog away from a bad situation than a quick nick.

Obvsioulsy if your dog is chasing a bird you dont want to nick him etc, but to prevent something worse from happening you just might have to nick him some day.

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Thats essentially what the Anderson article says. If your a purist with all kinds of time to train your dog Im sure you could do it without an e-collar. However, I saw no harm after my lab was trained by a professional that used an e-collar. He seems more calm and mature and listens to my commands. I only nick him when he loses focus and usually it only takes one nick for the rest of the session.

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I detect some subtle or not so subtle plugging of his chosen line (British) of dogs. Also we do not generally hunt like the British. There must be American labs out there that are calm, etc... too.

He seems to be lumping everything into the trial pile which is unfair and misleading. One could do the same with almost any breed, and especially gsp's.

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Retriever training is a summer-long exercise

by Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

June 9, 2009

If all of this can be accomplished without an electronic collar, then why are the collars so popular here?

Three reasons, I would submit.

One is that it has become the norm, and retriever owners here now expect that a collar should be used.

A second is that American field trials (certainly) require the use of a collar, because corrections must be made at such great distances. Similarly, hunt tests today, particularly at the master level, require — because of the way they're structured — long-distance corrections.

The third reason is that in America we've been breeding so many generations of Labradors now that are capable of taking the collar in their training (particularly the harsher uses associated with the early generation collars, and particularly when collars are used by amateurs unfamiliar with their use and misuse) that we now produce dogs that often can't be trained, or controlled, without a collar — particularly in those instances in which the amateur is unwilling to put in the time necessary to train a retriever "the old way,'' meaning with a leash.

I think the first thing Mr. Anderson should do is maybe talk to someone who is very good at using the collar. Since the Godfather, Rex Carr, past away quite a few years ago now he could try and talk to Mike Lardy perhaps or maybe Danny Farmer or Dave Rorem a Minnesota Pro who is a direct disciple of Rex Carr.

Next, he is so far off base with his "corrections need to be made at such great distances" it is not an accurate statement. Again Mr. Anderson, please refer to a Pro who knows what he is doing. As far as "Master level distances" most of the time those aren't much longer than 150 yards.

Lastly, dogs were every bit as unruly and hard headed 30-40 years ago as they are. Times change, methods change. You either change with the times or you get left by the wayside.

Boy these computers sure are fun , aren't they? Who would have thought years ago some day we could communicate this way. Obviously, NOT Dennis Anderson.

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Times change, methods change.

I think this statement pretty sums up my thoughts on this article.

Rundave, I certainly consider the e-collar a safety device. While I would like to think my dog would be perfect in the field and obey my every command when faced with a temping situation, it reassuring to know that I have a tool use to correct/stop a potentially deadly event from occurring.

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In the recent years we've become good consumers and gadget happy. Not just in the dog world but all around.

Wasn't that long ago no one had a GPS. Few boats had sounders and what did we ever do before, Menards, Lowes, and Home Depot were around to sell us cheap consumer grade power washers, generators, chop saws, paint sprayers, nail guns, and all the other great stuff that a contractor would have.

So it isn't any wonder a lot of dog owners own an E-collar.

We got by without all junk before but I does make life easier.

Is an E-collar an short cut?

Its a tool and if used correctly will give good results, used incorrectly it makes a mess.

If you haven't trained a dog without one you've missed some very important dog training skills IMO. Then again if the end product is good does that matter? For that average dog owner I say no but training without an E-collar might become a lost art.

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I would definitley consider mine a safety device. Also it is nice to have the beeper on mine (brit) so when he in on point or going thru deep grass he can be found easier. I rarely have to give the dog more than the page tone.

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The problem is when people think that they can teach a retriever with a collar, the collar is best used when reinforcing a command the dog knows and understands. When used as a kick in the butt to do the right thing collars are great. But when trying to shock a dog into doing the right thing through the process elimination is when things go awry.

My collars have the batteries go bad from just sitting around, but they are a good tool in some circumstances. I myself have gone with high powered field trial lines for 20+ years now and love em, when faced with the decision, I can run a dog down, but I can't get the juice out of them if it aint there to begin with. You just got to work em and teach em and they sleep like a baby in the house. And yes the creep in the blind like raped apes, but what the he!!

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