May issue

May issue
May issue

Monday, 7 October 2013

Shocking suggestion

Hi there,

I wonder if you can help me.

I have recently adopted a young female Saluki-Lurcher who is typical of her breed and likes to chase everything that moves and doesn't listen much to recall commands. I have tried the long lead and chicken treats but even her favourite food doesn't cut the mustard when it comes to distracting her from live preys or even an interesting scent.

I met a couple of owners of dogs with similar high prey drive (one was a Podenco - or Ibizan hound - and the other a Bedlington terrier/whippet lurcher) and they both recommended the use of training collars that deliver high pitch noises and mild electric shocks. They both said that they only needed to use the shock 2 or 3 times at the beginning before getting near perfect recall and that they don't need to use it any more. But I am unsure about using even mild and safe electric shocks on my dog. What do professional trainers think of these systems?

I know that there are also training collars with sprays but do they work as well? I would be grateful for some feedback on this and indeed any training tips to improve my dog's recall as I would dearly love to give her more freedom than she is enjoying at the moment.

With kind regards,

Isabelle, by email


  1. In my (and many, MANY others) opinion, shock collars are the worse option you could take in attempting to tackle a situation like this one. Research has shown that shock collars are more likely to cause further behavioural problems than solve a recall problem. Positive reinforcement seems to work much better! Long training lines should work for the time being, as your dog can't go any further when she reaches the end! It is not uncommon for certain breeds to have a high prey-drive, my Border Terrier has quite one! Even though he does, my dog has a fine recall, and I can let him off the lead on walks. Practice recall in non distraction areas - start with inside your own house. If your in one room with your dog in another, call your dog's name along with your come (or whatever you wish to call your recall command) and reward with praise food, and maybe even a play when she comes. You could even place her food bowl down, make her wait, then call her to you away from the food offering her something better than her kibble. If she comes reward highly with praise and the high value treat, then let her enjoy her dinner. Remember to not do too much including her food if she has a food aggressive streak or behaviour. Then progress to your garden, and then to a long training line. You can do it! High value food, toys, and your full praise and attention should do the trick after a while. Like I said, she has no choice on a training line. She can't go further than its length. In the end she will have to return. High praise again when she does. Good luck, keep up the hard work.

  2. Electric Shock Collars do exactly as they say on the tin. They will give your dog an electric shock. Do you really want to do that to your best friend? If the dogs belonging to the walkers you met really only needed 2-3 shocks to stop them chasing then why are they still wearing the collars?

    There are plenty of videos out there that you could watch that show the effect of a shock collar when worn by a person, or you could try to use one on yourself, don't forget to put it on your neck not your arm!

    You say you've recently adopted the dog and have already tried long line and chicken treats. How long did you try for? You need to have a really good relationship with the dog, I suggest you pop along to a local training club to get some training underway and to help build this. Make sure they are using positive reinforcement training methods.

    A lot of trainers use what is known as the Premak Principle. The dog gets to do what it wants so long as it does something it doesn't want to first. In this instance the dog gets to play chase so long as it does something you ask for first. Does your dog show any interest in toys such as balls or something else you can throw? A soft toy on a long rope does wonders for chaser dogs. The idea is you throw the toy but keep hold of the rope then you can pull it around for the dog to chase. Think of someone playing with a cat and a ball of wool.

    Teach the dog in a low distraction area such as the kitchen, then move to a higher area ie the garden before moving out into the big wide world. If you can find an enclosed place like a tennis court or MUGA to play in that would be great.

    Teach look at me and use it whenever you spot something on the horizon that your dog might chase then get her playing with you and the chase toy. Be hyper vigilant and spot things before the dog get the chance to run.

    Training takes a long time, so work in small increments and don't expect your dog to be fully recalled trained in a couple of weeks.

    Olwen Turns SAC.Dip - Cloverleaf Canine Centre Behaviourist.