What Is It?
The collar and remote are similiar to conventional electronic collars, but it also has a pager mode, the equivalent of a pager or cell phone on silent/vibrate mode. We can control the duration of the vibration from a quick "bump" to a drawn out steady vibration. This has been found to be a highly effective way to cue the dog concurrently with out verbal commands-to help them stand out. The muscles react instantly to our voice, once properly conditioned. We will also link it to the electric stimulus, and the pager becomes implied pressure, or a way to validate behaviors, which shows the dog that "timing is everything"...in other words, we need it done now! We can imply pressure. Imagine speeding down the highway, you see a State Trooper's car on the side of the road.."implied pressure" to do the right thing ...instantly you remove your lead foot from the gas, you slow down, complying with the speed limit, and nothing happens, you don't get a ticket, you feel happy and relieved, but the implications of the patrol car are there and hard to forget. Though the pressure to do the right thing was only "implied". Think of our verbal commands as the posted speed limit. The pager, in a sense, becomes the state trooper, and life is a highway laden with them. You'd probably learn to drive the speed limit or get a lot of tickets ...clear choices.
The benefits of the pagers ability to imply pressure becomes apparent in high stress situations. The pager does not contract the muscles the way the stimulus does since it is a sensory cue. It gives fluidity to the desired behavior. If we must always depend on real pressure (stimulus)this can become counterproductive. When a dog is in drive, its mind is in a sensory overload, and reacts differently. Stimulus at this time is highly cumulative. This can cause mental wear and tear on the dog in the long term. It has conflicted feelings when in drive. Being able to effectively imply pressure (page)in a more constant way, we can better condition the dog to be reliable and confident in all situations. The page is invaluable with soft dogs (a must for Goldens) and can be used on young puppies. It's an invaluable way to introduce the collar and also shape behaviors. The pager affects a different part of the dog's brain than electric stimulus, which contracts muscles, the page is more of a mind cue. Most dogs readily accept the newfound ability to "feel" our voice.
It is also a type of training. Teaching dogs that our voice is now much easier to respond to because it has a physical connotation (it vibrates). We will instill the belief that we have an "invisible" leash that has no distance constraints. We will also link that pager with tasty treats. They synergy of all these things will help us more quickly develop the habit of responding instantly to our commands. The collar empowers us beyond our physical abilities that, to a dog, seem far inferior to their own. Even little puppies see they can outrun us. Whatever we want to believe, it is not the nature of dogs or any animal to comply with spoken words. We must place the dogs, for their safety, in a world we control, a world with traffic lights that clearly say "stop" and "go". This is the exciting world of pager collars.
We must forget what we think we know about electronic training from the past. Like any technology, it has improved greatly since the "days of old" shock collars. Today's pager collars more closely resembles a telephone than a Taser in methodology and new advances are constantly being made. The collars are getting smaller and lighter and more versatile. We can use them to structure positive behaviors, not just avoidance or correction training. They give us the ability to have consistent , effective, means of communication without overpowering the dog. To have a dog that "listens", we must overcome Mother Nature who, by design, has made dogs reactive. This is why, when distracted, dogs seem to tune us out (one track mind!). We can play this reactive nature to our benefit by teaching the dog to respond (react) to a physical cue. Audible tones have been shown ineffective in developing muscle memory. Though the pager has an audible factor, it's the physical one that is the most effective, the physicality is most easily understood by the dog.
Self-Efficacy-Why Does It Work?
We must remember dogs are not a language oriented species. They do not have the ability to process words the way humans do. They do not have a brain that is designed for speech, so they innately read body language. Imagine going to a foreign country, where you did not speak the language, after awhile you would be able to catch on to some things, and some gestures would easily be interpreted, but the specifics would escape you, unless someone actively taught you the language, life would be hard. For dogs physicality of the pager easily fits into this dynamic. We know that dogs need an event to happen in conjunction with a "word" for it to have a specific meaning. In order to have a trained dog, we must hold all the cards. We need tools to communicate the necessity our our commands. The pager gives us the added benefit of being able to imply pressure but using it in situations where real pressure (stimulus)would want to be avoided. For instance, initial introduction to the water or stress situations where the dog might overreact to the stimulus. In a figurative sense, it could be compared to the "Stockholm Syndrome", in that we can easily convince the do to sympathize with out "seemingly" radical demands.
Why Is It Different From Other Electric Collars
Pager collars differ in concept from conventional collars that were sometimes used in a punishment form. When properly conditioned, the dog will perceive an invisible leash that is no different than a six foot leash and choke chain, except it is much longer and not visible to the eye .Luckily, dogs are not dependent on "seeing is believing" and can easily be led to believe the world works differently. Gone are the days of pre-training the dog and using the collar later to reinforce commands. We will use the collar from day one. We will substitute the "nick" for the quick leash correction , thus giving us more ability to be consistent. The pager will become the physical manifestation of our voice. We will use it concurrently with our verbal commands and will develop the crucial muscle memory path from the brain to the body by virtue of our voice. This will help the dog understand our desire for specific timing. They will have clarity regarding our commitment. We will have a consistent predictable cue each time we give a command. This will make responding to our voice second nature to them. Most dogs readily accept the pager and feel more confident knowing that the cues are very clear.
Teaching Muscle Memory
A dog's muscles will initially have an involuntary response to physical stimuli, the muscles contract. This is why for years people "jerked" choke chains and raved about pinch collars, and why electronic collars in theory work. The initial reaction to an electric, chain, or pinch collar is far from the "memory" we want to instill. By using the pager to teach muscle memory, we get a more fluid, positive, and permanent response. It is more closely linked to the pleasure center than the fear center. We can later replace the pager with electric stimulus and pager will become interchangeable, but the early memories will persevere giving the dog a clearer head during the stimulus thus making it easier to learn. I use this analogy...if you went to France but didn't speak the language, communication is impossible. You were taught several words and were expected to know and respond instantly to these words. The problem is that you were listening to the French language all day, so the words ran together and began to sound like garbled gibberish. However, if they gave you a pager and hit it every time they spoke directly to you, the words would have much more clarity and you would learn faster and enjoy conversations in the French language.
Three Basis Memories:
These muscle actions are common to dogs. They do them all of the time. but, by being able to consistently cue the dog to respond, we are forming good habits. Remember, understanding and being reactive/responsive to physical stimuli is very natural to dogs just by virtue of social structure. They understand communication by touch. Basically, we can teach the dog's muscles to train its brain to respond to our spoken commands. We are, in sense, able to "Wag the Dog"!
Unconditional Positive Regard-Why Do We Need A Pager?
By giving our voice this extra enhancement, we can quickly teach the dog to respond where and when we want to turn him on a dime. Timing issues that have plagued trainers in the past can now be resolved. Previously, graduating levels of continuous stimulus were used to shape behaviors. Using it to turn the dog away or towards the desired behavior is essentially teaching them to feel our voice and comply with our commands. ropes and chains are outdated tools in today's technology driven world. It is hard enough to communicate with a person at any distance much less a dog...we need tools. With the invention of the pager collar, we found the same effect could be achieved by linking a physical page with the electric stimulus. The pager gives us the invaluable ability to communicate commands without the risk of using the wrong level of electric stimulus. Why limit ourselves to only communicating at a distance with a potentially unpleasant stimulus? We can use technology to "talk" to our dogs without causing any distress. We need the dog to understand what we want and when we want it, and not to view everything as an opportunity for correction. The faster we can get the dog to comply, the faster we can develop permanent habits.
By implying pressure we can't concede anything. The bigger picture is that the dog more quickly sees things the way we want him to. When we say "jump", we have taught his muscles the choreography through the "muscle memory". We now can cue the dog to remember by doing this consistently. Over time we will develop permanence of habit.
What Are The Practical Applications?
We can use the collar first in conjunction with the leash, then quickly in place of the leash, thus having more consistent cues from the beginning of training. The applications are basically the same as conventional electronic collars except the pager's applications are much more advanced, positive, and permanent. We can introduce the collar without fear of making an initial mistake in gauging the level of electric stimulation. Using the pager makes the dog aware that our voice is physical; this isn't true with the conventional electric collar. Our voice, through the application of the pager, has become powerful in developing the dog's behavior. For high tolerance dogs, we can introduce the "nick" or continuous stimulation, but quickly add the pager. They will be incapable of not making a correlation.
Many dogs that resist conventional training methods are deemed hard to train, when in fact, they may not be. I think it is only fair that we afford dogs the opportunity to understand what we want, as opposed to feeling entitled to have the dog defy his nature and instantly respond to verbal commands with a cue. By teaching the dog to "turn off" the pager, and respond to our voice, we can shape behaviors much more quickly and have more constant inference of pressure without the "pressure cooker build up" you get with the conventional pressure alone. Once we teach him to "turn off" the pager by complying with our voice (using a drawn out voice, initially), we can then use it for any and every other behavior we desire. Once we have made him collar literate, which involves the dog understanding the new language that we are speaking and how things work, we can now have consistent expectations from the dog to handler and vice versa. We will discuss this application in a later chapter.
Why Use It On Puppies?
The pager is the only remote training tool that has a sensory effect and we can link it to food thus to the pleasure center of the brain. The pager becomes part of a positive dynamic. Puppies are born with an innate way of seeing the world. Remember, puppies have the same number of chromosomes as a wolf. Unfortunately, this can work against us. Puppies are not geared toward instant responses. We can use the pager as a way to teach response to positive stimuli and the electric to reduce negative stimulus appeal. Puppies have plasticity to their brain that, if not developed in a consistent manner, can become problematic. This is not a punishment dynamic. It is a conditioning dynamic that uses the natural plasticity of the brain. We need a remote collar because all other methods pale in effectiveness. Timing and consistency will quickly and easily be achieved. Once the puppy becomes collar literate, he will quickly master tasks and develop permanent habits. With the help of behavioral science and technology, we can solve any training problem.