Choosing The Best Dog Training Collar For Training Your Strong, Stubborn, Or High Drive Puppy Or Dog (Parts I & II of IV)

REMEMBER - 'It's Not The Tool, It's The Fool At The End Of The Tool'

Parts I & II (of IV)

1. Introduction

You are probably like most companion dog owners. You’re not looking for ‘Lassie’ level training in your dog. You just want a civilized dog that comes when called, stays when told and walks on a leash well enough that when you come home both of your arms are the same length. You want your puppy to stop mouthing, nipping, biting your children and yourself and you’d rather it happen sooner rather than later. You don’t want to have to hurt your dog to accomplish this. Nor do you want to have to subject your dog to a life-long addiction to treats in order to motivate your dog to listen or behave. The collar you use for training is one of the colors in the palette that can and should play a role. The collar you select can make this easier or harder on both you and your dog. 

An awful lot of dog trainers, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians fail to realize how significant a role and as importantly what that role should and shouldn’t be and as a result often offer horrible advice. Harnesses are evidence enough of this, along with the ludicrous rationales offered to justify their use.

The equipment recommendations made by people that take money for advice are almost never based on common sense, let alone science (physics,  biomechanics, behavior, etc.). They are instead almost always based on ideology. The ‘Might Is Right’ trainers always recommend chain chokers and prong collars. The even more bizarre ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’, treat, treat, treat trainers used to recommend head halters and in recent years having realized their inherent risk due to their less than positive application of pressure on a dog’s cervical vertebrae now insist that companion dog owners use harnesses. You will read below that disadvantages associated with effective training aside, the physical risk associated with harnesses and their potential negative impact on dogs under 18 months of age is not insignificant.

Below you will learn about companion dog training collar selection from the perspective of what the purpose of a collar should (and shouldn’t) be and practical factors that you should consider when making the decision about what collar to select. Then there is a review of common collar choices from the perspective of finding the right balance.

Dogs Venn Physical Advantage I
Dogs Venn Physical Advantage II

2. What Evolutionary Biology Has To Say About The Use Of 'Force'

Does force play a role in raising the youngsters of any higher order social species? Of course, it does. However, it’s always measured and in keeping with the situation and maturity of the student. Try changing cranky child’s diaper or get them into a snowsuit without using superior physical advantage. This birth to the young adulthood period in our children’s development and that of the offspring of all higher order species gives us a physical advantage for more than one reason. Even once we get past the point that pinning a screaming infant with one hand while we’re reaching for the wipes with the other we incorporate, “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you and if you don’t like me telling you I’m going to ‘force’ you!” strategies into our parenting toolbox. All higher order social species do. We might in recent years have refrained from corporal consequences and instead turned to punish with whatever sort of painful emotional leverage we decide is more ‘humane’. Things like loss of internet, smartphone, gaming privileges etc. become negotiating chips once the children sufficiently progress cognitively and in language skills so that they can grasp the threat of the consequence.

‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’, treat, treat, treat trainers would have everyone thinking that if it’s not “all positive/force free” then the pendulum must savagely swing right over to abuse. As a result, I won’t be asking one to change any diapers any time soon. (You will read more about the pseudo-science nonsense that is, unfortunately, the most common form of access to training companion dog owners find in North America a little later in this article.) For the rest of us though it should be obvious that not being all positive does not leave us with the only other option of using pain and abuse. In fact, a very strong argument can be made that this aspect of behavior modification should not only not be left out for practical reasons there is growing evidence that removing appropriate consquences during formative periods of development may impact the ability to cope with otherwise normal stress later in life.

It may not be a coincidence that the significant increase in the number of dogs I see with anxiety problems (and on medication) since ‘all-positive dog training came on the scene is in keeping with similar epidemic level developments in the young human population (also on medication) since the advent of helicopter, everyone gets a trophy, self-esteem must be protected at all costs approach to parenting, schooling, and other social justice warrior approach-like influence. Well meaning and with the best of intentions I’m sure, but perhaps too far afield from how our biology has been influenced by evolution?

In the early stages of life we use superior strength, speed, and agility; initially to care for and protect our children from the ills of the world. As they get a little faster, stronger and more agile themselves we use our advantage more than rarely to keep them safe from themselves. This is the obvious explanation as to why we have a physical advantage. 

However from an evolutionary behavior perspective, (and this critical and missed by almost all companion dog trainers) another less obvious but highly pertinent reason is that our physical advantage and the frequent ways and manners in which we apply this advantage gives our youngsters little choice but to take note of various forms of our tone and body language. They learn to do more than hear and see their parents. The advantage begins the process of them learning to listen and watch. Dog trainers that do not incorporate this reality into their training recommendations seek to influence behavior by far less effective and far more onerous and entirely unnatural and unnecessary means; either physical corrections or bribery via treats and toys.

A puppies first exposure to a ‘hard’, “No!” and sometimes physical discipline from a mother is when those razor-sharp teeth latch on to their mother’s nipple. Those teeth are another gift from evolutionary biology. More to motivate the mother to say, “No!”, rather than having any practical purpose. Between  4 – 6 weeks of age they start to take careful note of their mother’s tone and body language. Not just the oxytocin-driven love tone and body language either. The, “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you!”, tone and body language as well. And once in a while, should they fail to notice or heed her warnings, they’ll find themselves nipped, pinned to the ground and otherwise physically inconvenienced.

Those same teeth allow them to learn much about their littermates as well during the weeks to come. They learn with some littermates there will be consequences if they fail to inhibit and with others, they’ll learn there will be an opportunity. Which puppies do the teachings and which puppies do the learning? Which puppies get the best nursing spots, the choicest scraps etc.? The puppies that back off or the puppies that do the backing off? The puppies that ignore bad behavior and reward good behavior? The puppies that redirect with a toy or a treat? Whoops, that last bit is what the pseudo-science ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’, treat, treat, treat dog trainers tell you to do -, right? Because responding like a mother dog that needs to establish who is the teacher and who is the student so she can teach real-world life skills is cruel? Or is it a much clearer indication of what role force plays in the real world of all higher order social species and shines the light on a necessary aspect of companion puppy and dog obedience?

On the flip side of the coin, there are the ‘Might Is Right’ companion dog trainers, that are all about recommending being ‘alpha, pack leader, dominant’, alpha-rolls and other naive clap-trap behavior theories seemingly based on a grade school student’s grasp of behavior science. The most famous of them all has no shortage of videos being bitten, almost bitten and even more training/confronting agitated, fearful dogs. Asked for the justification? “Mother dogs do it.” “Other dogs do it.” Not like that they don’t. Not with that sort of outcome they don’t.

There’s a difference between subordinate and submission. When that level of interaction occurs it’s first of all very much the exception to the rule and not a parenting philosophy. Secondly, it’s rarely needed, not the first thing out of the parenting toolbox. One would think that if one were a parent or a school teacher and one were getting regularly threatened, attacked or literally stabbed by one’s students, one might clue in?

You need more than just the right dog training equipment. Good dog training is ‘Fully Balanced Companion Dog Training’ which factors in everything. However one of those factors relates to equipment and the reality that starting at 10 weeks of age our dogs step out of nature’s template and become faster and more agile than any human on the planet. Some because they have four-wheel drive and four on the floor traction become relatively stronger than their owners. That includes, of course, the most important human or humans of all. The one(s) that are supposed to be teaching them that they (the human) are the teacher and that they (the dog) is the student, and to recognize and respond to warm and cold tone and body language so they can learn to be civilized and successful. 

Their mothers would have had months and months to go before this would happen. And, so the equipment you use should give you her advantages so that you too can leave the ‘Might Is Right’ and ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’, treat, treat, treat nonsense behind and teach your puppy to respond to your tone and body language so that one day you don’t need to rely on leashes and collars. You will be the leash and collar and the equipment just a hopefully never needed emergency-brake.

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WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar

4.4/5
Overall Rating

WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar - Description

Stop Leash PullingIt doesn’t look like much but it works like a charm. This collar is something I designed as a means to provide clients with a bit of wiggle room to safely prevent the dog from continuing to have a physical advantage while they were developing their timing and knowledge on how to train their dog. One of my clients after using the collar referred to it as, “sort of training wheels for the dog owner.”

It’s a simple concept and as easy to put on and take off as a regular collar. It is positioned just behind the ears and under the jaw and as a result provides reasonable leverage at the owner’s discretion. The dog owner has the option to whisper or speak more loudly through the leash if they are having difficulty getting their dog’s attention. And, if the need arises where emergency brake leverage is required, it provides that as well.

Mostly all I did was select an extremely strong strap used in the equine harness industry and attach a cord-lock to slide down once the collar was placed behind the dog’s ears and under the jaw. Unlike its chain slip collar ‘cousin’ which quickly slip far too low, this reduces the chances of injury and choking, and allows a dog owner regardless of handling ability and experience to far more easily steer the dog’s head or acquire the dog’s attention.

It’s not a perfect solution as the cord lock was selected to prevent accidentally putting the collar on too tightly. The spring inside allows the cord lock to back off if the owner sets the collar on too tight. The end result is that you do need to adjust the position from time to time. The only other downside is that because the cord lock can technically be forced rather than released and pushed some people to push it and prematurely wear the cosmetic coating off the outside of the collar.

They come in 7 sizes and will fit Dachshunds to Jack Russells to the Cane Corso and other Mastiffs. Learn More About Sizing, Pricing etc. Here…

Potential To Be Eventually Retired As A Training Tool And Used As A Hopefully Never Needed Emergency Brake Only

4.5/5

Yes, when combined with an intelligent approach to training this collar can very much eventually be retired to the emergency brake only category.

WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar - Ensure The Safety Of The Owner, The Dog, And All Others​

4.3/5

Nothing is perfect but this is a close as I’ve come to a collar that provided enough leverage to give the average companion dog owner enough physical control in ’emergency brake’ scenarios to improve the safety of all without there being a need to inconvenience the dog when that level of leverage is unnecessary.

WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar - Allow The Owner To Easily Maintain Control Of The Dog’s Head​

4.3/5

Makes it very easy to steer even a very large dog. Hence it’s named, The Power Steering Dog Training Collar.

WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar - Make It Relatively Easy To Acquire Their Dog’s Attention During The Early Stages Of Training (Without Hurting The Dog)

4.3/5

Because the collar is slim and positioned behind the ears and under the jaw, typically a flick of the wrist with low, household level distractions and slightly more for more serious distractions.

WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar - Make It Difficult For A Dog To Successfully Tsunami Their Owner With The Dog’s Speed, Strength, And Agility​

4.3/5

Again because of the position it sits on the dog it is far easier to turn a jumping dog to the side and if the attention from the dog is aggressive in nature because the collar is also a slip collar it can be used as such in an emergency.

WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar - Uncomplicated - Not Requiring Extensive Training To Learn How To Use Correctly When Used For Training Purposes

5/5

I typically advise people unfamiliar with having a physical advantage over their dog but most especially with a dog unfamiliar with their owner having a physical advantage that it’s easier if the collar is first used inside the home rather than jump right into the deep end of the pool (around serious distractions) where the dog might be caught off guard by their owner’s newly found speed, strength, and agility.

WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar - Ergonomics - Easy To Put On And Take Off​

4.5/5

Slip it over the dog’s head, slide the cord lock into position. Done.

WadeCollar - Power Steering Dog Training Collar - Is It Dog Friendly?​

4.3/5

As I say, it’s not the tool, it’s the fool at the end of the tool we always have to worry about but I can say with confidence that the vast majority of dogs seem to instantly know something is up but don’t attribute to the collar and pay it no attention. What they almost always do is start paying attention to their owners, which is mission accomplished.

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