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An interesting inquiry I received recently … 

Hello Again Scott, 

I wish to ask you a question.  My wife and I seem to have differed in a matter of Dog training.    The matter pertains to the usage of an E-collar.  She feel that usage of the E-collar should not begin until the puppy has reached the age of 6 months.  (i.e. the vet feels it may be to heavy and add undo stress to the young dogs neck.  Myself I agree with the trainers of Native Dog Food.  Please hear me out.  They do not specify a usage time or date from a puppies birth date.  They do however recommend a puppies training begin at a young age.  12 to 14 weeks for a bird dog.  Also it should be 

At what age does amperage become appropriate?

used for the reinforcement of positive behavior.   So I lean towards the introduction of the E-collar around the same time.  Do you have an opinion?  We decided to go with your choice of E-collar.  And understandably so after a small amount of research we knew you were leading us to a quality product.  Now when would you begin using the E-collar in a puppies training regiment.  Do you mind letting us know?
 
Thank you my friend
~*~`Jerry` &` Chris ~*~ 

And my response … 

Thanks for your question. First, know that I am NOT a trainer … just a guy who loves dogs and carefully observes what makes them tick, and hopefully learns some more! My feelings on the question:
 
Stay away from e-collars for many, many months … the physical toll on a pup’s neck is a good reason . Also, I agree training starts the day you bring pup home … whether you know it or not, formal or otherwise. That’s a good thing. But no puppy will have a clear understanding of commands at a young age, thus can’t be corrected with an e-collar. The idea of the collar is to reinforce commands a dog already understands well.
 
The better puppy training tools in my humble opinion, are: praise in all its forms dispensed liberally, reasonable expectations about what a very young animal can learn and how fast, an enclosed yard, leash and check cord, and judicious use of repetition. Most professionals would probably recommend NO e-collar for many months if not longer!
 
A couple axioms from those smarter than me:
 
Never give a command you can’t enforce.
 
Never give your dog an opportunity to do things the wrong way. Don’t set up your dog for failure.
 
Good luck. 

Scott 

How about you readers? Comments?

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If you were the emperor of the universe, you’d … re-design that stinkin’ leash!

Judging from the continued traffic on my post about dog boots, it’s clear there is a lot of frustration with the gear we subject our dogs to. When discussion centers on a “good” pair of boots being good because they last two days, you know there is plenty of room for improvement.

But what are your biggest peeves? Is it a collar that just won’t fit Rover? Or a leash that requires your dog to help when you clip it on him? Maybe you wish (like me) for a gizmo that will tame your whistle lanyard.

I’m on my way to the SHOT Show, where all the newest gear is premiered for those in the shooting and hunting trade … including, I hope, some new doggy stuff. While I’m away, here’s your chance to vent, or make suggestions. Someone out there might actually build a better mousetrap!

On the other paw, maybe there’s something you really, really like and feel we should know about. Here’s your chance – make a comment! And if someone does know about a three-day dog boot, tell the rest of us, please. And if you check “other” on the poll, please tell us what you want or need in the comments section! Thanks.

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LEAVING ELLENSBURG, Wash.: What does it mean when the clearest shot you have all day at a chukar is punctuated by a bee sting on your arm as you’re swinging on the bird?

I guess it could have been worse: I hit the bird, we got a beautiful retrieve, and camera operators Tad Newberry and Lynn Berland both got their shots. The swelling hasn’t gone down, but I’m not worried … yet … about the arm. And memories of the rest of the morning should keep me distracted.

Cooke Canyon Hunt Club is nestled in the hills along the edge of the valley that contains (most years) the Yakima River. Excellent hosts Doug and Alice Burnette were kind enough to invites us back and I was glad to accept. Doug’s dog training skills once again ensured an enjoyable and educational hunt on preserve chukars and pheasants as well as a few wild birds.

Weather was hot and dry, portending a short day and careful scrutiny of the dogs’ every move toward shade or water. True to form and certainly justifiable, jaegermeister Doug called it a day the moment one pointer laid down in the puddle of shadow surrounding a bitterbrush. It was hot.

Before that, we watched English Setters, Pointers, a shorthair and even Buddy track, stalk, point, relocate on, and retrieve (usually) some of the wiliest preserve birds I’ve encountered. Case in point: setter Jasper (royal stud dog and ruler of the Cooke Canyon kennel – and house) slams a point along an irrigation canal. The “back” by shorthair Elsa is upwind, until we figure the bird had already ran/waded up the ditch beyond both. A couple relocates including one point in the water capped a long chase and flown bird that fell to Doug’s gun.

Thanks to everyone in Ellensburg for your hospitality!

PS: ever wondered what a dog really sees in the field? Here’s some raw footage from our new high-def “Buddy cam.”

PPS: The Irish Setter giveaway is back, so leave a comment – even just a plea to be selected – and you could win a pair as well as a new hunting jacket.

Thanks to all the Awesome Upland Road Trip sponsors: TriTronics, Black’s Wing & Clay Waterfowl directory, National Shooting Sports Foundation and www.wingshootingusa.org, and Irish Setter.

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I’ve put off doing this because it will officially signal the end of the 2008-2009 Awesome Upland Road Trip, but enough is enough. Congratulations to the many winners of Irish Setter boots and jackets who told me where they would wear theirs if they won.
One place I wore my Irish Setters ... chukar country near Clarno, Ore.

One place I wore my Irish Setters ... chukar country near Clarno, Ore.

Answers were creative and touching, from church to grouse coverts with family and friends … and I’m glad the winners were chosen at random because any other way would have been too tough for the judge (me). If you won, you know it and congratulations. If you didn’t I hope it kindled one more fond memory or prompted another hunting trip. It sure did for me.

Thanks to Irish Setter and Tri-Tronics, as well as the State of South Dakota, who made the Awesome Upland Road Trip possible. Stay tuned for the 2nd Annual AURT, coming soon (but for most of us, not soon enough!).

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Yours truly actually "working" at SHOT ... you'll hear this interview on my radio show.

Yours truly actually "working" at SHOT ... you'll hear this interview on my radio show.

(ORLANDO) SHOT Show updates … What innovation there was in our universe was in the highest-tech segment of our world, dog training collars. Translation: ho-hum of a show in many respects. But here are some more notable exceptions:

Dogtra introduced their “RR Deluxe,” a remote bird-launcher release system that has a loudspeaker mimicking both duck call and beep sounds. It interfaces with their pheasant and quail launchers, and uses a standard, codable transmitter that allows you to chain up to 16 launchers if your wife will let you buy them and you can figure out how to code them all! 

The duck call feature is particularly intriguing for added “realism” for retriever trainers. The beeper is described by Dogtra as helping you locate the launcher system in heavy cover (helpful, especially when you’re trying to locate your dog at the same time). I’d like to see uplanders served by a pheasant cackle on version 1.1, or better yet, the last launch of the day featuring a comely synthesized female voice announcing the start of happy hour.

If you live the shotgun lifestyle, you might visit www.shotgunlife.com, a new site creators are describing as in the “Best Gun” category. You’ll find articles (many very long), some product information, and at least a nod to women shooters, so pour yourself a half-skinny-soy-no foam latte’ extra caffeine and take a look.

SportDog is touting their new SportHunter 1825, a slimmer-profile receiver and transmitter system that offers up to 16 stimulus levels (requires a few button pushes – ask your texting-savvy kid to help) and (thank you) vibration AND tone through the collar receiver. Both should come in handy for creative dog trainers. They’ve also built a new “docking” system for charging batteries. No word on whether or not you can combine tone and vibration to perform the drum and guitar solos in the surf tune “Wipeout.”

There’s a black version and a camo version, both are waterproof,  and can be adapted to handle up to three dogs using SportDog’s “Add-A-Dog” (a great title for a spouses’ worst nightmare)  collars.

Next stop on the Awesome Upland Road Trip: Reno, Nevada and the Safari Club International convention, next week. How about for you? Where would you wear a new pair of Irish Setter boots? Tell me in the comments section and you might win a free pair!

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Short SHOT: [More later.] Remington has taken a leaf from its handgun counterparts, introducing a shotgun with polymer frame and other components. Called the “887 Nitro Magnum,” this 12-ga. pump still has a steel barrel and receiver, but that’s where the similarities to the reliable 870 end.

The external polymer shell protects the guts of the gun from corrosion. Ditto for the trigger plate, made from the same polymer.  And though the TPA contains the fire control and carrier – similar to the 870 fire control – it also, uniquely, contains the right and left shell latches.

Gotta go! More to come from Orlando, FL.

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Though in meetings most of Day One of the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, I was able to visit a few manufacturers’ exhibits. Innovation as always, is a keyword at this gathering and already one product jumps out at we dog folk:

Tri-Tronics’  TracerTM Light is designed to fit any G-series receiver.  Hunters are able to turn the light on or off with a simple press of a button on their transmitter, and can choose between a blinking light or constant mode, which is visible from up to a  half  mile. It is inserted at the “base” of your collar battery unit and wraps around the entire battery. It doesn’t appear to add much weight or bulk to the collar, and won’t lighten your wallet too much.

If you let your retrievers “help” with decoy placement before first light, run dogs until full dark, or just want the added safety of light when walking Fido on a busy road, this might help. My guess is, houndsmen will find this item most helpful.

For hunters who run multiple dogs, the TracerTMLight is available in three colors: red, white and blue. It  is available as a single accessory ($49.00 MSRP), already attached to the accessory receiver ($193.95 MSRP) or pre-installed in a Trashbreaker remote trainer ($514.00 MSRP).

[SHOT Show gossip you didn’t hear here: watch for another GPS tracking collar to compete with Garmin, this one with stimulation so your dog doesn’t need to look like a retail display mannequin for electronic collars. Maybe as soon as this hunting season.]

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