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  • Writer's pictureThumbs Up Training

Deaf Dog Training: Vibration Collar

Across the deaf dog community you will see vastly different opinions on whether or not you should use a vibration collar.

Most deaf dog trainers will tell you not to use one, but why?

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with a vibration collar, but it’s the way they’re often used that make us shout NO!

More often than not, vibration collars are used incorrectly and actually cause discomfort and even fear.

We don’t want people to use the collars in an aversive manner because it goes against our ethics, and it’s completely unnecessary.

However, using a vibration collar correctly can add a whole new level of communication between you and your deaf dog.

Imagine this scenario:

You and your deaf dog are on a hike, whether off leash or on a long line. Your deaf dog is walking ahead of you and all of a sudden, a person on a bike zooms past. Your deaf dog stops, watches the bike, and doesn’t chase.

Now is the time you want to scream “good dog!!” but your dog is deaf, and they’re facing away from you, so how do we tell them?

That’s where a vibration collar can come in!

For me, the vibration of the collar just means “you did a good thing!!”

Below is an outline of how to properly introduce and use a vibration collar.

Keep in mind this object means absolutely nothing to your dog so how you move forward with it is extremely important!

Step 1:

Present the collar to your dog. Their instinct will be to sniff it. Once they do, give them a treat. Repeat this a handful of times. When your pup is nosing at the collar and waiting for food, you’re ready to move onto the next step!

Step 2:

Place the collar near your dogs foot, vibrate and offer a treat.

If this action makes your dog back away and pull it’s foot, start with the collar next to the foot. Continue this step until your dog is comfortable!

Step 3:

Place the collar further up on your dogs body, I like to do around the shoulder. Vibrate, give your treat. Repeat this numerous times.

At this point, your dog should be comfortable and not move away. If that’s not true, take a step back.

Step 4:

Put the collar on. I like to offer treats while putting it on, especially the first time as we get it properly fitted.

Step 5:

With the collar on and in the correct place, vibrate and treat. Repeat this numerous times.

Again, if your dog is pulling away, or uncomfortable, take a step back.

***Make sure that your vibration is first and the treat follows after, always!!***

Step 6:

Put it into action. I like to start with easy, well known cues/behaviors, like sit. Ask the dog to sit, when it does, vibrate and treat!

Keep in mind when putting your collar into action, the vibration should come at the moment the behavior is completed and then a treat should follow, always in that order!

If you are using a vibration collar and it’s causing your dog to “stop” a behavior, like barking, it is being used in an aversive manner. Your dog is stopping the barking because it is startled or unsure about the sensation. Using collars in this manner is strongly advised against.

Happy training!!

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