A modern shock collar often has stimulation levels that range from "not noticeable" to "able to light Wichita". How do you know what level to use on the dog? Good question. I am here to help.
Here is the high level summary of finding a good level
- Put the shock collar on yourself
- Have the dog wear the collar
- Recognizing a good level
Put The Collar On The Human
Probably the most important thing you need to do is put the shock collar on yourself. Put the prongs on your hand or strap it onto your calf or thigh. If you are unwilling to experience the stimulation yourself, you have no business delivering the stimulation to your dog. Knowing what it feels like will make you less likely to increase the stimulation level. It will give you a steady hand.
When you put the collar on yourself, you will want to start with the lowest stimulation level possible. Start low and slowly build up. Take note of the level when you can barely feel it, when it is noticeable, and when it hurts. This range will not be the same for your dog, but it will be similar. If you cannot handle a level above 4, and you are delivering a level 18 to your dog, something is wrong.
Put The Collar On The Dog
Once you have felt the stimulation yourself, go ahead and put the shock collar on your dog. Here is an entire article on how to do that. The best thing you can do after putting the collar on the dog is to just have him wear it. No stimulation. Nothing. Just have him wear it for a while to get used to it. Have the dog wear the collar during fun times. Like going for a walk. Make sure the collar is turned off and you leave the transmitter at home. I'd do this twice or three times or so...no hard and fast rule though.
Find A Good Level
Once he is used to wearing the shock collar, the next step is to find a good stimulation level for the dog.
You want the dog to be somewhere where his attention is not fixed on you. Keep the dog close to you so you can observe him. Set the level to the absolute lowest stimulation level possible, and deliver a stimulation. If you have a quality collar with a lot of levels, chances are good that the dog will not notice it. Increase the stimulation level by the smallest increment possible and deliver the stimulation again. Watch your dog's reaction.
You are looking for some sort of reaction. An ear twitch. A turn of the head. Some subtle change in the dog's behavior. You are not looking for a yelp. You are not looking for pain. You are looking for something that indicates that the dog felt it. Sometimes the reaction is subtle, so go ahead and give the stimulation again. Did you see it again? If so, this is the operational level at which you will start your training.
The goal is to find the level that the dog will respond to, twice. The response is an ear twitch or a turn of the head. You start at the absolute lowest level and increase until you see the subtle response twice.
Take note of this level. This is your dog's starting training level. Burn this level into your brain. This is the start. The most important rule is this: You want to use the lowest effective level to reinforce a known behavior.
Finally, anyone who studies effective blogging will tell you that you ought to have pictures in your posts. For that reason, here is a puppy:
We are just about done with this series on shock collars. The only thing left is some training examples. Let me know if I have missed anything. Also, if you find this information useful, give me a like or share it on facebook. This gives me more readers, and readership is the currency of any blogger. Tanx!
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