Tom asked me some fascinating questions regarding his dog training. Here are some of the questions and their respective answers:
Q: Hello, Trevor! I have noticed the substance behind your advice regarding the buckle collar. It seems that if he is wearing this collar permanently, he will become used to it and soon forget all about it. This issue bothers me a bit because I would like to have the dog behave himself regardless of the type of collar he is wearing. All this fuzz between the buckle collar and the pinch collar is a bit confusing, and if by chance the pet owner were to forget which one to use at any particular time he would lose control of the dog, not to mention ruining his training.
A: That is not quite right, taking off the collar for a while will not affect the dog too much, and he certainly will not forget his training.
Q: I was wondering if you ever went back to using the buckle collar on a dog that is happy with his training, and seems to be obeying his commands.
A: I certainly do, a dog that is happy with his training will obey and perform his commands; however, in time, he will become tempted and this id when reconditioning needs to take place.
We become unconsciously accustomed to a specific behavior, no matter the circumstances. For example, when you wake up in the morning and walk to the bathroom, you turn to the right door every morning, never to the left door, which is the way out. However, if you were to sleep in a different room where the circumstances where different, say the bathroom door was on the left, you would probably continue reaching for the right door and find yourself in the hallway more often than not. Changing these preconceived notions of your surroundings is what we call reconditioning — making your mind aware of specific changes so that it reacts accordingly.
In many ways, you could compare the example above with the issue with the pinch and buckle collar. When the dog becomes comfortable with the pinch collar, he will no longer notice that discomfort is there. Changing the surrounding circumstances will make him aware of differences, and the need for reconditioning will arise. If you switch a dog back to the buckle collar, you will be allowing yourself and the dog to use the pinch collar again sometime in the future with a certain degree of effectiveness.
Reconditioning is just a way to keep your dog on his toes as a matter of speaking. Remember to keep training fun though; it’s not all about pinch collars and reconditioning, but also to keep a few dog games in the schedule now and then. Training should be just that, exercise, and not a gruesome chore that becomes the cornerstone of your dog’s existence. Hopefully, these comments will get you on your way to refining your dog’s behavior even further, without necessarily taking the fun out of it.
All the best, Trevor.