I was just wrote an
e-mail to a gentleman who asked me for advice. Writing that e-mail made me
want to share some thoughts.
The subject of the
e-mail was e-collars. 'What brand should I get and how old should the dog
be before I use an e-collar?'
That made me think about
another question I get. 'How old should my pup be before I start
With regard to the
e-collar brand, it's up to you. We prefer D.T. systems SPT 7302. It
has the humane vibration feature as well as an outstanding lifetime warranty.
It also has 50 stimulation levels so you can fine tune the correct level for
your dog as well has boasting a beeper. D.T. also makes a nice 'end
loading' launcher that is much safer to use than other manufacturers whose
launchers inevitably blow up in your face.
collar/beeper/training system based on what your long term goals are with regard
to training and hunting. If you see yourself getting a second dog at
sometime, get a transmitter that will handle a second collar (like the D.T.
systems 7302). If you like
the idea of a beeper to locate your dog, make sure the collar has a beeper
feature. If you don't want your beeper to be a part of your collar, then
consider buying a stand alone beeper.
If you are a one dog
person and you don't see yourself as a trainer, say, more of an enforcer, then
just get a one dog system.
If your dog hunts very
close, chances are you don't need a beeper, maybe an inexpensive bell will do if
you hunt heavy cover.
If your dog is a far
ranging dog and your idea of a good hunt is to drive up on your dog standing
point, consider a one to two mile range collar and a beeper. Possibly
consider a radio tracking collar for your dog as they have come way down on
price in recent years.
collars/beeper/trackers, ask yourself this question "Is this device rechargeable
or do I need to stock batteries?"
If your answer is
'rechargeable', keep in mind that your a.c. plug-in charger isn't worth a hoot
in the middle of Kansas at 2:00 p.m. in the middle of nowhere on a pheasant
hunt. Most brands do not offer a 12 volt plug in charger so that
means a trip to Wal-Mart to get an inverter. I strongly recommend an
inverter for all folks who use rechargeable electronic hunting devices.
You can get a good one for about 40 bucks.
If your answer is
'batteries', then make sure you keep a few extra in the glove box.
Now lets talk about
'What age should I start training or using an e-collar on my dog?'
I really dislike this
question because it is often followed to the letter which is many times a big
I use to say, start them
at 6 months of age. Now I like 8 months of age. Has anything
changed? Absolutely not. So why the change?
I changed because some
folks are too literal. Folks read that their dog can begin training in
earnest at age 6 months so they start the day the dog turns 6 months old!
The problem with that is that the 6 month old estimate is simply that, an
estimate. Training should begin when the dog is showing signs of
being ready, not because it reached an arbitrary age.
Many dogs can start a
repetitive conditioning training program at 6 months but there are just as many
that simply aren't ready. They are too immature to comprehend what is
So when I get asked the
'age' question, I usually reply with a long answer that includes words/phrases
like 'maturation', 'exposure to birds', 'playing fetch', 'basic commands',
'birdiness'. All of this has to do with the dog being ready because he IS
ready, NOT because he reached a certain age.
If your dog is not ready
and needs to be made ready, then allow extra time for yourself or your trainer
to give your puppy the necessary exposure it requires. Many trainers refer
to this as puppy training. Notice I didn't write 'started' or 'finished'
as those two words imply a higher level of training. Puppy training
involves exposure (not starting or finishing) to birds and gun
fire, jaunts afield to learn about creeks, trees, skunks, wild birds, etc...
Puppy training is part of the environment you provide to your puppy prior to
'starting' it (started = dog that knows the basic of bird hunting, as in a
I also noticed that
folks will take a 'recommended age' and move it forward. How American is
that? 'If one pill is good, then two are better!' sort of mentality. They
figure, "Hey, my dog is smart, he is ready now". So the poor pup is asked
to do things it isn't ready for. Worse yet, some folks use training
programs that employ e-collars from day one.
My standard answer for
someone that has already trained their dog and is now experiencing field
obedience issues, is "Get a start-of-the-art e-collar, blend it in with the lead
and check cord then go back to the field and use the e-collar as an enforcement
Blending is another
issue that novice trainers don't understand so they end up not doing the job
right and confusing/ruining their bird dog. I'll write about that in
I hope I answered 'What
brand of e-collar should I get and what age should I start....?'
OBTW, if you are reading
this and thinking, Well what should I be doing and when?'
Thanks for dropping by
and Y'all take care and give
your dog a fancy treat for me!
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