Article originally appeared in “On the Wing”, a monthly e-mail newsletter by Pheasants Forever
It Works For People
For years, business people have used pagers to maintain effective communication while out of the office. Through sound or vibration, a pager has proven an effective way of letting them know when someone needs to communicate with them. In the dog world, many brands of electronic collars have recently begun to feature a “page”, or vibration, function that can be selectively used by the trainer. At the press of a button, the box on the collar will vibrate, rather than producing the more traditional stimulation. Why not make use of this new technology to improve communication with your dog?
Send A Subtle Message
Most collar manufacturers suggest using this vibration as a warning signal that your dog is about to be stimulated unless it responds to your command. We’ve found that the more warnings a dog gets, the less consistently they comply with our commands. Rather than using the pager feature as a warning tone, we recommend using the pager function as a silent and easy way to bring your dog in closer. The pager function is a great way to send your dog a reminder that he needs to check in with you.
As a team, it is important that you have a way to communicate with your dog that he is getting out of gun range. Sending a silent message through vibration is much quieter than a voice or whistle command, so you will be less likely to spook wary birds. This is particularly useful if you have a hard running dog that may have a tendency to get outside gun range.
Teaching your dog to understand the message you are sending is fairly simple. Start out by just taking your dog for a walk and let him hunt, or just walk, out in front of you. When your dog starts to get out of your comfortable gun range, turn and change direction, and push the pager button. The dog will turn around and see that you are going a different way, and should start to follow you.
If necessary, we encourage the use of voice commands or a soft whistle early on to let your dog know that you want him to stay with you. After a while, you shouldn’t need the voice or whistle, and you can use the traditional stimulation to back up the pager if necessary. Ultimately, we have found that most dogs will begin to understand pager conditioning pretty quickly and provide you with one more effective tool in communicating with your dog in the field.
To learn more about Chad and Jodi’s training methods, visit www.willowcreekkennels.net.