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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am trying to follow the Bill Hillman "Training Your Pet with the Electric
Collar The Soft Collar....". I don't feel like I can follow the program exactly because my dog is very highly
trained in obedience. We are completely new to field training. She knows how to retrieve, come when called, sit stay and
down stay. She finished her Utility dog title last August and is now working on her Obedience Trial Championship.

The DVD assumes that the dog understands the command, but makes many mistakes due to distractions. I can cause
my dog to make a mistake, but probably only one mistake per training session because she understands distractions
and is accustomed to avoiding pressure. I have been trying to do the collar conditioning in conjunction with
throwing bumpers (where she will occasionally break her sit), but I haven't found a good approach to teaching the "here"
command. The problem is that when I call her when she is on leash or a long line she always comes. Most of the
time I can't even cause her to be distracted on lead, even when I walk her near the treeline where there is the
highly desirable deer poop. The only times she makes mistakes on recalls is when she is not on leash and I am at a distance.

Any advice that you can give me about how to collar condition a dog that has good obedience skills would be greatly
appreciated. Is there a DVD or book that might be more applicable to my situation?
I want to make absolutely certain that she understands the electronic correction and how to respond to it.


Robin Clark
 

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Robin,

In your case it may be best to get and follow Mike Lardy's Total e-collar conditioning DVD. It's very thorough, and I think may be a good fit for your dog in this case.

Evan
 

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I was in the same position with my boy, who started at age 3 with a UDX. I would very strongly suggest you enlist the help of a good pro, doing some hourly lessons. They will be able to custom tailor to your needs. I worked with an awesome pro and it went very well.
 

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I am trying to follow the Bill Hillman "Training Your Pet with the Electric
Collar The Soft Collar....". I don't feel like I can follow the program exactly because my dog is very highly
trained in obedience. We are completely new to field training. She knows how to retrieve, come when called, sit stay and
down stay. She finished her Utility dog title last August and is now working on her Obedience Trial Championship.

The DVD assumes that the dog understands the command, but makes many mistakes due to distractions. I can cause
my dog to make a mistake, but probably only one mistake per training session because she understands distractions
and is accustomed to avoiding pressure. I have been trying to do the collar conditioning in conjunction with
throwing bumpers (where she will occasionally break her sit), but I haven't found a good approach to teaching the "here"
command. The problem is that when I call her when she is on leash or a long line she always comes. Most of the
time I can't even cause her to be distracted on lead, even when I walk her near the treeline where there is the
highly desirable deer poop. The only times she makes mistakes on recalls is when she is not on leash and I am at a distance.

Any advice that you can give me about how to collar condition a dog that has good obedience skills would be greatly
appreciated. Is there a DVD or book that might be more applicable to my situation?
I want to make absolutely certain that she understands the electronic correction and how to respond to it.


Robin Clark

Robin,

Had to read your post several times to understand what was needed, but the idea is not to setup your dog for failure. The idea is to condition your dog for success.
I agree... The Mike Lardy e-collar conditioning is very thorough and will help you understand the principle.

My penny worth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I received the Mike Lardy DVD last night and will watch it this weekend. I did send Bill and Mary an email and got a nice, quick response...but I have so many questions still that I don't want to impose on them. When you say:

but the idea is not to setup your dog for failure. The idea is to condition your dog for success.

I don't really understand the principle behind this. In other words, it does not make sense me for to nick my dog when they have responded properly to my command. It only makes sense to me to give a nick when she has not responded promptly to my command. And yet it is difficult (while on leash) for me to get my dog to not respond properly to my command. I hope that this makes sense.

Robin
 

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Hi Robin, I was in a similar situation, Fisher had his UD and OTCH points before I ever used an ecollar in the field.
To be honest, collar conditioning went quickly with him and I felt like it was more of a formality than anything. I never got a faster response with the collar because he did whatever I asked quickly anyways. What I did see were stress responses to the collar but the dog continued to work through it so I felt that was as "conditioned" as he was going to get (i.e. panting and slightly clingy behavior). I conditioned to SIT first because I've had many people tell me, if you condition to HERE first their tendency is to come in to you if they are corrected or otherwise stressed. Once we got going in field work there were no issues.
I will tell you why I got the collar -- I tried to go Amish with Fisher in the field -- got through T work -- where he began some avoidance behaviors which are nearly impossible to correct and efficiently correct without a collar -- bugging (looking at ME instead of the pile -- an automatic for an obedience dog) and obsessing over the bumpers on the ground in my discard pile. It made both of us very frustrated. When I finally got a collar, got with the program, and corrected those behaviors unemotionally with the collar, the change was immediate and it was smooth sailing through the rest of transition work.
Best of luck!
 

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I'm with BJGately. I think you are confused about the correct usage of the ecollar under Hillmann's Soft Collar methods. He uses a light 'nick' (momentary) as reinforcement of a correct response to a command; NOT as punishment for an incorrect response.

The sequence is Command - 'nick' - Command ... or Command - 'nick' - GOOD! Generally, the timing of 'nick' should be after the dog commits momentum toward execution of the command, and before execution of the command is completed.


I haven't seen Hillmann's Soft Collar DVD (for pets) but I have the other three Hillmann DVDs and I'm sure that the principles are the same.

The fact that your dog has been well taught, understands the command and is highly compliant should make collar conditioning under Hillmann's methods very simple and straight forward for you and your dog.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
T-Pines and BJGately, this is a completely new concept for me and I am trying to understand the underlying priniciples behind it. Bill is saying the same thing in his DVD, but I don't yet fully understand it. When I think of "reinforcement" I always think of positive reinforcement. Maybe what I am misunderstanding is that the collar is used as a mild negative reinforcement in that the stimulus stops when the behavior is completed. I was trying to think of the collar as positive punishment, in other words, when you don't do what I ask, bad things will happen. So I was thinking in the wrong quadrant...I should be viewing the collar as negative reinforcement (like an ear pinch) that is unpleasant until the behavior is finished?
 

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Robin, I have a remedial understanding of the four quarants of operant conditioning, but I am no behaviorist. I have pondered your question many times and have yet to arrive at an answer. In practical application, I am extremely satisfied that Hillmann's soft collar technique yields the results that I want and I do not have an urgent need for the theoretical explanation.


If someone can explain it, I'm all ears.


Back to practical application ... it is different from an ear pinch in that it is a momentary 'nick' and does not persist to completion of the command. The intensity is only enough to be perceptible to the dog.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I hear you T-Pines. The fact that the nick is momentary and does not persist until the behavior is complete is what made me believe that it was positive punishment, not negative reinforcement. But I am easily confused by negative reinforcement...the only good example I can ever think of is the ear pinch.

Ten years of intensive dog training has only taught me one thing for sure...don't use a technique until you understand the principles behind it. I've made so many mistakes by doing things that people told me "just trust me it works". My poor dogs have paid the price over and over. Good techniques always have a good explanation, although some are so subtle that it takes a real expert to get to the heart of the matter. I am certain that Bill's technique is sound and successful, but I am not confident that I will apply it properly until I understand it better :)
 

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Very, very well said and great advice to all.

Ten years of intensive dog training has only taught me one thing for sure...don't use a technique until you understand the principles behind it. I've made so many mistakes by doing things that people told me "just trust me it works". My poor dogs have paid the price over and over. Good techniques always have a good explanation, although some are so subtle that it takes a real expert to get to the heart of the matter. I am certain that Bill's technique is sound and successful, but I am not confident that I will apply it properly until I understand it better :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I just watched the first 2/3 of the Mike Lardy DVD. He is answering many of my questions. I'd love to hear people talk about how Mike Lardy and Bill Hillman differ in their approaches and why one approach may be more successful than the other. From what I can tell, the Bill Hillman approach is a longer, slower conditioning process with much lower stim levels. Mike's approach is to complete conditioning in 5-6 days and to nick 8-10 times on day one. Bill's approach is to nick one or two times per session I think. I need to rewatch it. Mike is causing errors to appear on the here command because the sit has been reinforced so many times...and it is the contrast between the two commands that causes the dog to believe that they have to ***listen*** and not guess or react automatically.

This is completely fascinating to me because I am coming from a competitive obedience background where aversives are usually not discussed openly and are somewhat politically incorrect. The people who know how to use all 4 quandrants effectively have a huge advantage. One of many reasons why I love Micheal Ellis. And I am starting to love field folks.
 

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And I am starting to love field folks.

Oh, we'll change that in a hurry. :mrgreen:

[i kid, i kid]
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

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The people who know how to use all 4 quandrants effectively have a huge advantage. One of many reasons why I love Micheal Ellis.
Since you're an Ellis fan, have you watched his on-demand videos on collar conditioning (available through Leerburg: http://leerburg.com/flix/landing_new.php?id=692)? He addresses the relevant learning theory as well as problems that can occur such as superstitious behaviors, which Hillmann and Lardy really don't get into. Ellis goes to great lengths to condition the collar in a way that seeks to avoid unintended fallout and superstitious behaviors. I'm also a fan of Ellis, and I thought his collar conditioning videos were one of the best investments I've made in training materials.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have watched the 3 Ellis collar conditioning videos numerous times. They were the material that first started me on the journey to understand e-collars. I am finding the field community to be a fabulous resource. I emailed Ed Frawley earlier this week about some of the problems I am having with fading rewards...unrelated to ecollars...and he told me that they are filming the next video in the Michael Ellis series later this month. I am sending him some videos demonstrating some of my issues. I have done a very good job in initial training of competitive obedience, IOW the exercises are crisp, precise and enthusiastic while rewards are delivered in a random (every 2 min approximately) schedule. But in situations where the dogs know that there will not be rewards, the exercises become sloppy and error-prone. I know that to fix these problems I have venture into the other quadrants. I've made many mistakes in the past when I tried to apply pressure, so I taking some steps back and trying to do a better job of it.
 
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