Three Questions On Selecting A Dog Training Collar

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Judy wrote to me with the following question:

"Hi, Adam! I enjoyed your website, but still need help choosing the right collar for my hard headed Jack Russell. She does go swimming to chase and catch my ducks in our pond, she chases cars, and she sometimes sneaks up behind visitors and bites them on the leg. She does not listen at all when she is so intensely concentrating on doing what she is not supposed to do...ignores us completely. Other than being so aggravating 1/4 of the time, she is a good little dog. But, when she is bad...she is BAD!

What collar would be best for such a small dog...she is not a fat Jack Russell...she runs to much for that. She is probably around 12 - 15 pounds, but I am just guessing. I want a collar that goes at least 1/2 mile. We live out in the country and she runs around our 10 acres.

Thanks so much,
- Judy"

Dear Judy,

The 7 Stages Of Puppy Development
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When choosing a training collar, the pinch collar is the best choice. It communicates with the dog in it's natural language, using the "teeth" of the collar similar to how an Alpha dog would correct a subordinate or a mother dog correct her puppies. The small size would probably work best for your Jack Russell terrier.

By not listening to you, she is showing her disrespect of your Alpha position in the family "pack." When you get the pinch collar, you must keep it and a leash on her all the time when supervision is available so you can correct any behaviors you don't want. A good place to start learning about how to train yourself on how to train your dog is my book and videos.

By keeping up a regimen of tough love and obedience, you can correct her negative behaviors and don't forget to praise her whenever she does something right. Mental stimulation is as important as physical and she will be glad to be working for you in obedience.

Jason wrote to me with a similar question about training collars:

"Hello Adam- I have recently purchased the full package of your book and DVD's that you offer which I have found to be very useful. I have two questions that I hope you may be able to answer:

1) How old must a dog be before training with the pinch collar'

I have a 4 month old chocolate lab that is very intelligent. Prior to your instructions, I was already able to teach her to shake, sit, and roll-over all with food as the reward.

However, down is a different story-she only goes down when I point all the way to the ground-finger pointing and touching the floor-since having food in my hand when the training began she only responds to my hand as a signal and not the word. This is at best inconsistent and a bit frustrating. I have begun the down-stay but the spike collar I have is only using 3 rings and does not seem very efficient. I feel compelled to break this bad habit which I have helped create, and look for your suggestions on this topic.
Dog Breeds
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2) How do I use a ball drive (which is extremely strong in my lab) to make my dog not only retrieve (which she does) but catch a Frisbee in the air'

I have already started bouncing balls of the wall and she is getting better at catching the ball on the run, but I don't know how this can evolve into a Frisbee catch and was a bit shocked not finding this in your book.

Thank you for anything you can do or suggest for me to do,

-- Jason"

Dear Jason,

To be at it's best efficiency, the pinch collar should have at least 5 links with pronged tips. You might want to find the next size down for your dog and remove links until you have the proper fit. Remember that the pinch collar is recommended for the dog usually when she gets her adult teeth (usually around 4 to 4.5 months). If you do need to use it before then, be gentle with your corrections, as training at this age is usually done through positive reinforcement, motivation, and light corrections (vocal, not giving a treat, etc).

Make sure she knows the command "Down" as well as the hand signal. If you have to start from square one in teaching it to her, do it. Praise her when she does anything right and let her know when she needs to give you a little more effort.
Housebreaking Your Dog
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Instead of using a ball for teaching her how to catch a Frisbee, use a Frisbee; the two toys are very different in dimension. Make sure she's excited about the Frisbee and gently throw it to her from a few feet away, aiming for her chest, and tell her "Catch!" If she even attempts, praise her. Keep trying and use the word "Catch" whenever you throw it and as she learns to catch it, throw it from farther away and have her run short distances. However, be careful of how hard you exercise her, as her joints are still growing. At a future point, you will know when you can stop using the word "Catch" and simply ask her if she wants to play Frisbee.

Whereas Marie wanted to know how to incorporate the use of the training collar into fixing her dog's problem of ankle biting:

"Dear Adam: I have a five month-old Maltese and I'm having a problem with him nipping at my ankles and pulling on my pant legs. Also could I use a pinch collar on him' He only weighs 4lbs. Thanks for any help you can give me.

Regards,
Marie"

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Now that you've decided to get a puppy or dog, the next few weeks will be busy and at times, more than a little bit crazy. That's why it's .....
Dear Marie,

By biting your ankles and pulling your pant legs, he is asking for attention. I find it hard to think that he is trying to dominate you at this age, so the behavior is probably more related to attention. You need to eliminate this behavior verbal correction IN CONJUNCTION WITH grabbing the scruff of his neck and giving a firm pull.

If it's easier, use a prong collar on because the collar only pinches the skin instead of constricting against the neck. While they are very hard to find in conventional pet stores, they are available online and can be found by typing "micro prong collar" into a search engine. It will help you communicate with your dog in a way he understands. However, it's unlikely.


About the Author: Adam G. Katz is the author of the book, "Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer: An Insider's Guide To The Most Jealously Guarded Dog Training Secrets In History." Get a free copy of his report "Games To Play With Your Dog" when you sign up for his free weekly dog training tips e-zine at: http://www.dogproblems.com