A foundational concept for using e-collars successfully, and applying guidance training.
By Chad James and Mike Norman
With the inception of the first electrical stimulation device in 1967, the birth of e-collar training for animals took place. The purpose of this device was to gain control over ones dog at a distance. To make this happen, the engineers needed to learn about the mathematical formula – which we now call the “The Connectivity Formula”.
The Connectivity Formula has many variables including the output characteristics of the device and the characteristics for interacting with each animal’s sensory system style. Although the characteristics of the device is controllable, the animal’s sensory system is made up of many variables that affect the capability for the animal to understand what the sensory input levels mean. It includes the breed, the type of animal, its sex, the animal’s composition of fur and skin, the animal’s disposition, the immediate environment, seasonal weather conditions, and etc. Out of all these variables impacting “The Connectivity Formula” – one of the most fundamental is the energy needed to safely connect to the animal’s skin and their sensory system.
The early pioneers of e-collars created a means to communicate with a specialized tracking/trailing dog – over distances up to a mile, and whether they realized it or not; this would become a way for humans to also communicate with their own (non-hunting) pets. The pioneers may not have envisioned the way the devices are used today, but they were seeking to make life better for the animals. Today, that same vision of making life better for our pets is a contributing factor to what drives industry-leading designers. The concept permeates all aspects of what they are doing.
In looking at all variables that affect and impact connectivity, the one designers have control of is the device’s internal energy spectrum. This was designed and developed to interface with the animal’s sensory system. Let’s look at that output. There are a couple important points to understand and appreciate:
- The present electrical impulse energy spectrum has become the industry standard and was created by utilizing a well-documented transformer driver circuit whose output is delivered by using an AC signal of low current, high voltage.
- This industry standard was thoroughly and scientifically researched and data is available if you wish in a well documented explanation titled, “Cardiopulmonary and Epidermal Effects of Electrical Stimulation in the Canine: A Study in Engineering Psychology”, University of Arizona 1987.
Without being overly detailed, it means, when used and applied properly to an animal no physical harm may occur to that animal, either through deterioration of its skin or to its cardiac system due to the use of this style of electrical impulse stimulation. We should note, it is imperative that the e-collar device fit snuggly onto the animal. Remember contact with the sensory system is key to making e-collar training function properly – and that means good contact with the animal’s skin is a must.
This was clearly observed with Don’s dog, a fellow member of our retriever club. They were several months into training with slow progress and inconsistent results. James, another member of the retriever club who trains several dogs a year was observing. After a few minutes, James pointed out that the e-collar was too loose and showed Don how to snug-up the collar. Positive results were then seen within minutes.
Most of us who train animals are aware of the “holy-grail” – point of contact, repetition, association and consistency, as the key to success. Change any one of these variables and the animal receives an inconsistent message, becomes confused, and learning is slowed tremendously. This applies to any training system and e-collar application is no exception.
In fact, if the collar is not attached snugly the stimulation whether electrical impulse or electrical vibration is inconsistent both in level that the animal experiences and in the capability of feeling it altogether. When the collar fits snugly and the outside stimulation is felt consistently; the device is creating a consistent point of contact, consistent repetition, and consistent cognitive association to the animal. The beauty of the e-collar is it is sending a message to one’s dog and can be done next to the handler or at hundreds of yards away. The results are quicker learning and often more permanence of learning, in other words a faster and more highly conditioned animal.
This is what happened with one of our customers. They purchased a Walk’r from an online distributor and wanted to replace it because, “It was not working”. Included with the replacement collar was a seven-minute DVD (available on YouTube) with a short segment discussing how to properly fit the collar. With the collar properly fit, the satisfied customer wrote back, “I now walk my dog, he does not walk me.” In turn, the collar he returned worked just fine when tested – it was the way the collar was applied to the dog that made the difference between working and not working.
Although there is fear of applying an e-collar too snug and in turn hurting the animal – most manufacturers offer different lengths of contact points. In this way, it should not matter how long the contact points are; if the collar is positioned correctly and snugly then good consistent contact is not made, and the stimulation is felt consistently with the results being successful.
One of the advantages and reasons for longer or shorter contact points has to do with the dog’s coat. Long haired dogs usually need longer contact points in order to make good contact with the dog’s skin and sometimes short haired dogs could use slightly shorter points to make a snug fit more comfortable.
While the length of contact points help make good contact with the skin it does not necessarily mean that the device works optimally due to the natural resistance found in various skin types of different animals. To help improve performance of the Connectivity Formula, CJE Products researched, tested, and invented an after-market SCG-LBM Surface Conductor Grid (patent#7,677,204).
The newest model SCG-401K replaces the standard two contact points with a flat pad that contains six, closely spaced, points of contact. Furthermore, it creates an energy-field that engages the sensory system more effectively by changing the traditional FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) two long contact points to a FMS (Functional Magnetic Stimulation) utilizing many closely spaced output pads. This means improved e-collar performance on lower levels simply because the dog can better sense the energy spectrum. The SCG-401K grid works with most e-collars manufactured today.
What comes across as an initial disadvantage, having to apply an e-collar snuggly, tighter than what most people may feel comfortable with, is an advantage, and necessary for any e-collar to function properly. The results of proper snugness of the e-collar are far greater than incorrectly fitting the collar. Faster learning, with consistency of point of contact, repetition, and association even at distances of hundreds of yards. This foundational concept of connectivity is so important that it must not be overlooked or set aside as it can dramatically change the effectiveness of your training.
CJE Products, LLC offering “Innovations for the Animal’s Sake”.
For more information use the following links:
Product page where you can purchase the grid