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Using a Training Collar for Anxiety in Dogs
It seems almost contradictory to correct a dog that suffers from anxiety with a training collar but, training with an e-collar can have a positively calming effect and can build trust between you and your dog. Whether you are trying to quiet an over excited hunting dog or are trying to settle an anxious or nervous family dog, using a training collar can help create security for your dog because she will learn to look to you for direction when she faces uncertainty.
As most of us already know, yelling commands at a nervous dog only creates more anxiety and confusion for him. One of the goals of e-collar training for anxiety is to get your dog comfortable with a situation that usually causes nervousness or a negative response and to have her look to you for a solution.
The Training Method
Start with a long leash or check cord so if she tries to retreat or run from you, you can have control and keep her out of danger. The goal is to have a positive off leash experience but, it is safer to start with a leash. Next, you need to put her in a situation that would typically cause her to be anxious. For example, if she is usually more nervous on a walk when she encounters other dogs or people then start the training on a walk. Many anxious hunting dogs are distracted by other dogs on the day of the hunt so while training make sure she is put in a similar situation. After she reacts or is distracted from the task at hand, that is when you would use a verbal command, such as the stay command, along with a low-level continuous correction until she is focused on you and calm again. You are trying to show her that when she is faced with a situation that makes her nervous or confused to look to you for guidance. You don’t want her to think that being anxious or nervous makes her a bad dog, she just needs to know that you can help her figure out what to do about it. For example, if she has anxiety around cars you wouldn’t want her to run, risking her life, you would want her to look at you for instruction and support.
You will know you have been successful when she looks at you for reassurance when she is nervous. You should be able to get her to the point where she reacts to your command only, not needing the static correction. It is possible to train a dog that suffers from high anxiety to be the calm dog and not be influenced by misbehaving dogs that have not been well trained. It’s all up to you and the amount of time you are willing to spend showing her that she can trust you. Spending the time to make sure she knows if she gets confused or distracted she can focus on you and you will give her the courage she needs to handle the situation at hand will make all the difference in her quality of life.
Time Well Spent
Of course, there are several viable training methods so as always choose what works best for you and your dog. Remember, training collars are tools of training and should never substitute time spent training. They should never be used as a quick fix. As always, practice verbal commands and situations over and over again before you trust her off leash in dangerous situations.