Starting on the Remote Electronic Collar.  - By Mary Mazzeri

I have taken dogs with strong aggression-trigger patterns and started to teach them the 'language' of the Remote Electronic collar in a distraction-free environment.  I use a 10-15 ft. long leash attached to a regular buckle collar. (The E collar is worn as a second/separate collar.) I allow the dog to explore the training area within the confines of the line and while it is doing so, I am starting at the very lowest level of the collar with tapping a button (which delivers a 1/10th of a second nick of barely perceptible stimulation). It reminds me of the TNS-muscle stimulation unit
that my husband used to use in his chiropractic practice to relax a spasmed muscle so he could set a good adjustment.

I will find the level that gets the dog's attention. I carefully ease the stimulation level up until the dog mildly indicates that it has become aware of the sensation. This indication varies from dog to dog, but it is usually indicated with a break in its behavior, a closing of the mouth, turn of the head toward or away from the receiver, head shake, ear flick, trying to 'scratch the flea'. I test this level 3 times to be sure it was not a coincidence. This level should not frighten the dog or make it vocalize.  Then I start a steady, rapid tapping on the momentary or 'nick' button -rather insistently and subsequently begin to use the line to move the dog toward me. When the dog has taken the first few steps and the line loosens, I stop the tapping.

I do all of this with out verbal conversation because the 'conversation' is coming through the collar. I repeat the steps of tapping and drawing the dog in, each time requiring that the dog come closer before I stop the stim.  This is escape training at a pretty comfortable level for the dog.  (I've felt the stim levels through all of the levels in the collars/brands I use.)

If the dog moves toward and then away from me, I stand on the line for a minute to keep the dog within 4 ft. of me. I want the dog to 'register' that the 'flea' is gone. I become the safe/flea-free zone. I then let him move on and get preoccupied again before I repeat the process. My next objective is to have the dog come to me on stim alone, without having to help it with the line. If needed, I will increase the stim level slightly until the dog shows increased motivation. The dog stays on a line through this whole 'language course'. I want to be able to guide the dog and teach it how to escape the pressure.

Eventually, when the dog feels stim, it moves toward me without help from the leash. Then, and only then, do I add the "Come" command, pairing it again with the tapping until the dog has come in close to me. The dog feels cessation of stim and receives quiet, verbal praise, I let it relax again and repeat the process a few more times until the dog is coming consistently with motivation.

With a super-psycho dog I might delay the next step for a day, but I usually introduce, gradually, increasingly strong distractions. The dog’s reactivity can be controlled by using greater distance from the distractions initially.  Once the dog has a decent understanding of the Come with stim, (This happens at the first training session.) then the dog is given the Come command in a CALM tone of voice at the first sign of the 'alert' on the distraction. The handler stands himself in the direction of travel away from the distraction.  Dog is requested to turn away from trouble. Dog has to make a choice.  Right choices bring relief on several levels: The 'flea' stops bugging the dog, the stress of confrontation is removed, the handler acts pleased.

NOTE: Stim level will need to be temporarily adjusted up to compensate for adrenaline. The distractions are initially placed at an adequate distance to help the dog make obedient choices more easily and experience success sooner, but gradually -over a period of 10-15 minutes -or a day or two if you have the time, the distraction is made more proximal and the same response pattern is imposed/rewarded.

Progress is pretty rapid. The 'stim is neutral', the 'solution is comfortable', the handler is cast into the role of savior. Eventually the first command is 'free of charge' and eventually the line is removed after the handler demonstrates competent/consistent handling and the dog demonstrates resistance to distractions.

Just as in your approach, it is hard to describe/cover all the fine points and 'what ifs' in a short post, this remote collar training has proven a most successful approach in dealing with many different kinds of aggressions in my experiences.