I have to agree that Lou Castle is an awesome trainer, he certainly knows his stuff and is always accommodating to us dumb humans.
Lou helped me when I needed it most. When I was on the brink of washing out an incredible little dog due to her crittering issues and the fact that when she was on a critter trail, no way could I get her back. I was done with this 9 month old pup that I spent a lot of $$ on.
I talked with Lou at LENGTH and even recorded his words. I still didn't feel comfortable putting an e collar on my dog. I ended up taking her to a fairly local (3 `1/2 hours away) field dog trainer. I watched the trainer work other dogs and decided I would leave Charley there for a week of "boot camp".
When I returned after a week, I spent some quality time with the trainer and my dog. He showed me how to work the dog in a collar and that it was NOT a punishment tool, but a training tool.
I do work my dog in an e collar when I feel that it would benefit her. I worked her last year in a collar when our search assignment was bordered by a busy road. I utilized the collar as a long lead. I use the paging button and with the proper training, my dog knows what that means. I use it most always in training.
I don't think it's a crutch.......but if it is, it's a lifesaving crutch, in my opinion.
Laura, CARDA #xxx (CARDA -- California Rescue Dog Association, is the largest SAR dog association in California)
Just wanted to give you an update on Kaiser. I've been working on his recall command and enforcing it with the e-collar. He has been responding really well and obeying the commands without delay. He is doing so well that I've taken him to dog beach in Huntington Beach and he has been responding well even with dogs around. He is doing so much better that we've been able to go up to dogs and greet them without all the aggression. It really is an amazing change in his reaction to dogs. Thanks for the great advice.
Kaiser is Kamal's certified SAR K-9
I've been in SAR work a long time (never mind how long) and have made a point of learning from every experience, and making experiences happen so I can learn. I've learned a lot and have a lot more to learn .
Several things I've learned came from a Lou Castle seminar. My experience with an electronic collar, prior to the seminar weekend, was to observe a person 'frying' a dog because of not responding to a command, 'when he knows better.'
Some dogs are fearful of the strangest things (I have a dog who hides from a) hammers, b) emery boards) (!?!), and security is paramount in changing the undesirable behavior arising from those fears.
Lou Castle can read dogs like few people can. He is among the top three that I have seen work with dogs and 'read' their body language and use that knowledge in training. BTW, I have seen the best and the worst and I make a point to see how trainers read dogs.
As an Operant Conditioning Trainer, I understand that "positive punishment" (the application of something unpleasant to the dog), has a place in humane training. I practice positive (pleasant) training where ever warranted, but like a table, training has four legs, positive reward, positive punishment, negative reward, negative punishment. The 'four legs' must be in balance, and they are NOT equal.
The combination (rarely understood by the canine) of positive punishment (application of something unpleasant) and negative punishment (removal of something unpleasant) is what we see when a dog is 'fried,' inappropriately, by an electronic collar. In this scenario the dog performs a behavior that the handler perceives as wrong and applies inappropriate stimulation via the collar. The handler releases (stops) this inappropriate stimulation after a few seconds/moments, believing she/he has 'taught the dog a lesson.' In fact, the application of the inappropriate stimulation is hardly ever at the moment the dog commits the offence, therefore the dog associates the pain with whatever is on his/her mind at the moment. For example, the dog is running after deer, the inappropriate stimulation is applied just as the dog looks at a gate. In the dogs mind (remember there is a .03 second for association) the gate caused pain. The dog turns and runs ANYWHERE away from the gate just as the inappropriate stimulation is released - therefore, running away from a gate precludes pain. I have seen so many pet owners, SAR Dog handlers, etc., apply positive punishment at the WRONG second (verbally, via the electronic collar, throwing a rock, etc.) so many times that I firmly believe that you must carefully set up the situation where positive punishment is to be used - as in Plan It Out.
What Lou Castle teaches is Observing your dog, reading what is necessary and what is confusing. He teaches Application of the MILD aversive to teach the dog to focus on the handler and what the handler is training/indicating. Past that I have seen him apply positive reward and negative reward (giving 'something good for dogs' and 'removing something good for dogs') at the proper time.
Thus we come to the USE of electronic collars. There are the good and the ugly. You have probably seen or heard of the ugly. Please give AT LEAST equal time to the good. Learn, its good for you and fun!
BTW, I have one dog that has learned to love life and become HAPPY, and surges INTO the electronic collar when I go to put it on him, because I have used it in accordance with the principles that I learned from Lou Castle.
Learn a new process. Grow. It is fun!
Monday's e-collar training was good. Other dogs were around the park, and people were milling about, but Rocky was focused on training. Other dogs might be lunging at Rocky (from a distance since we were on the green and the dogs were on the ped walk), but Rocky did no more than look at them, then ignore them.
The Saturday and Sunday SAR trainings really showed a marked difference. Rocky never showed much interest in toys or fetch at SAR trainings. This was why we kept food as the reward. He was always distracted by his surroundings and other dogs. On Saturday, at the end of his runaways and small problems, we rewarded him with food. Then I brought out his toy and Rocky played fetch - happy as a clam and energized! I think I will keep his food + toy reward for now, and hopefully, he will become more toy motivated in the future to transition fully into toy reward.
I learned a ton during the class. If you aren't a believer in ecollars you should at least attend one of Lou's classes and see what he does first hand before making up your mind.
The bite work we did at the end impressed me a lot. Not once did the handler or anyone else have to raise their voice or give anything even close to a hard correction to the dog.
Dave handles a certified SAR dog for a law enforcement agency in MN.
I help train Avalanche Dogs at Alta (a ski area in Utah) and sometimes I can just use a collar on a dog and other times I have to sell the idea to the primary handler. So I don’t have an ongoing ecollar program.
BUT I have had great success with a couple of our dogs with the valuable HERE command. One was a 6 month old pup that I couldn't walk down the street [literally 100 yds] without risking my shoulder being pulled out or his neck being broken. We were destroying “here” and the space around me as a SAFE/FUN place. Within a week the situation was resolved and the problem eliminated. WOW!
I now have our (Alta’s) next pup in training and this one isn't as hard as the last but at 6 months the positive aspects of HERE are being undermined and we need to do some work to counter this.
For background, I started the Avalanche Dog program at Alta [UT] back in 1980. At present I serve as an advisor to the Alta Ski Patrol and as circumstances have dictated I have taken a couple of our pups from selection to about 6 months and turned them over to a handler. At Alta the ski area buys the dogs and assigns a handler and after a year a secondary handler. A number of summertime situations give me the opportunity to baby sit/train as I like, and sometimes a handler will ask for help and be willing to work with an ecollar. They are the handlers and I respect &/or live with their decisions and prejudices. We try to have 3 working dogs and 1 in training.
Just starting out for a walk was like running a gauntlet [4 dogs on both sides of the street in literally 100 yards] and the 6 month old pup bolting this way and that and paying no attention to me. Not only was there the ignoring any leash POPS and verbal commands, there was the physical hitting the end of the leash and meanwhile the frustration was making me angry. At that point I was not able to be a TRAINER.
Thanks again, Dan O’Connor
Advisor, Alta Ski Patrol
I just want to say Thank you for all the help in getting the Ecollar and the lesson last Monday. I really appreciate all your time, great advise and training you gave us. Your lesson on using the Ecollar taught me the correct way to use it and you gave me the confidence I needed to use it, plus I know you did all the initial training with Spanner. And that I am grateful for. I'm really glad that I came down to meet with you, I learned so much from that training and Spanner is catching on so fast.
I've been reading your web site and continuing the training along with the advise you give, she is responding very well. She wears the Ecollar very day, does not seem to be stressed and happy to go out and train. Over the weekend we even went out in the cold wind, rain and "snow" to train, I was cold but she loved it.
The Ecollar is definitely a beneficial tool in our training and will become a big part of our success in the future. Thank you so much for all you have done in the world of dog training and the use of Ecollars, I am sure its better place because of you!!
Lou is an incredibly knowledgeable and a very helpful individual... speaking from my own personal experience.
Thank you Lou for coming back a second year and helping to make the symposium the success that it was! We were fortunate to have some wonderful SAR people in attendance and it appears that everyone learned a lot, and had a good time.
To the list: I would highly recommend that if you have not had Lou come to do a class for you, that you consider it in the future. He is an excellent instructor and I think that some of you will be surprised at what a REALLY NICE GUY he is! (Sorry Lou, the cat is out of the bag - your e-mail just doesn't do your true personality justice) ;-) Everyone who took either his e-collar or his Urban Building Class just couldn't say enough good things about Lou or what they got out of it.
K-9 Search and Rescue Teams of Florida, Inc.
I would like to add a support of e-collar training done through Lou Castle. I believe e-collars can be an effective and appropriate additional tool in some training cases. I have a pet dog in my home who responds to a level of stimulus that I cannot even feel. Lou got this dog working without s and the dog weighs 165 pounds. She is an English Mastiff.
We had been through multiple levels of obedience from the time she was a puppy on with other professional trainers and behaviorists. She had overall good obedience in many circumstances. She had and has never pulled me off my feet or pushed me inappropriately in treacherous hiking areas, but one time she pulled me off my feet when a cat jumped out in front of her. It caught us both of guard and as soon as she realized what she was doing she stopped.
But the moments in between convinced me that I needed additional training and Lou had been talking to me for over a year at that point about trying an e-collar on her. I will never regret the use of it or the training we received. I only get worried about the use of e-collars when they are being used by someone not trained by Lou.
Heidi, CARDA #xxx
CARDA -- California Rescue Dog Association, is the largest SAR dog association in California.
(Addition to above letter). Heidi told me during a phone call when I was getting permission to use her post that her Mastiff had been on a Gentle Leader when she pulled her off her feet.
I finally had an opportunity to try out an E-Collar last week, and the results were stunning.
Two weeks ago I inherited a 9 month old Lab mix "puppy" that had been severely neglected at his previous home. He had been tied up on someones porch for several months, and was very thin and emaciated. He had been tied up with a piece of twine that had grown into the skin of his neck. My sister adopted him on a whim, and quickly found out that he was too much to handle for her two young kids. He's not agressive at all, just very hyper, and a bit behind the behavioral learning curve for his age....and obviously very thankful to be off that rope!
I reluctantly took him (as we already have a mother and daughter Border Collie duo that have the place to themselves) so he didn't have to go back to the shelter and be euthanized. It was obvious from day one he has a TON of misdirected energy and has never had any direction or leadership...he was just a hyper mess and very mouthy....chews on everything.
After having him for 3 days I implemented Lou's recall and sit protocol, and in three 30 minute sessions, he was a completely different dog....walks great on a leash, doesnt lunge at deer, doesn't bite and chew the remote control or any other off limits objects, sits on command, and is overall much more relaxed in the house.
However, the most impressive thing happened yesterday afternoon. I had him and my two collies off leash in a 3 acre wooded area adjacent to our house. The mama collie spotted a feral cat and took off like a bolt of lightning...the other two followed suit, full speed. I let them get about 75 yards away, out of sight in the woods mind you. I yelled "Come" and hit the stim....Gus came hauling butt over the hill, and stood about 10 feet from me.... it took me another five minutes to get the two collies back.....obviously they are next in line for E-collar training.
I am REALLY looking forward to working with these dogs now..... Gus indeed has a permanent home with us because of this collar.
To the List,
I did use Lou's technique for a little monster dog who was an awful game chaser at 6 months. She ran through and got zapped by a cattle fence in pursuit of a goat and kept on chasing. We rescued a rooster from her jaws as she would not let go even as he was spurring her mouth.
We (and now I know how stupid it is and how it could of backfired) tried on our own to solve the problem by putting a collar on her and zapped her on high while in pursuit and it did not phase her. This was after having her run full speed into the prong. She figured out the prong very quickly.
Anyway his technique uses such a small amount of stim it is less than what you feel if you have ever had a chiropractor put the tingly majobbers on your back. It is all in the control of the situation and the timing. I do not keep an ecollar on her full time (I know Lou recommends this but I did not want to do that) yet she would still correct herself when the urge struck her to chase game. You could see her thinking about it, I swear it sounds silly but there was a pause and a decision not to chase on her part.
I did have to do a refresher 2 years after the first time we did it but not until then and not since then.
Nancy is a SAR K-9 handler.
My prey kitty seemed to enjoy the attention and now walks on a lead. Pretty cool. Maybe I will go in the "business" of supplying prey animals for ecollar seminars. ^_^ What kind of lead can I put on my chicken?
Lyne handles a certified SAR dog in California.