• First Basenji's

    Hi everyone, I am looking for recommendations on training collars (electric or spray) I could use to prevent my 18 months old Basenji from running away when I need to get him back on the leash. When the time comes to go home, even after a long 20 minutes run with the other dogs at the local park, it becomes a nightmare when he often runs away once realising the play time is over. The other day he crossed the street with cars having to stop abruptly. Has anyone had a positive experience with an electric collar? Willing to try one for the sake of preventing my Basenji from being hit by a car. How to chose the right one for the size of a Basenji? Thanks for sharing your experience with me! Kind regards, Ozzy.

  • Hi Ozzy

    I use an e-collar I got from "Sit Means Sit". I use it for the same reasons you state, control over the recall to keep Perry safe. Before I got the collar, I investigated and observed a couple of training sessions, and then brought Perry to a private lesson to see how that would go. I wanted to be sure I understood how to use the collar correctly, since you can easily do more harm than good if you don't understand how to begin. I was favourably impressed by how low key things were, and how little drama there was. People hear "shock collar" and jump to conclusions, but used correctly they are pretty benign.

    Long story short, I took a couple of lessons, then continued on my own. Perry understands the collar perfectly. I use a very low setting to back up any commands I give that he doesn't immediately obey…....I end up using it for "leave it" far more often than for recall! I have used a high setting when he has encountered something he wants to chase. I can call him off cats or squirrels or deer or skunks, and yes, the high setting hurts momentarily. He yipes, breaks off his chase, and pays attention to me. No harm done, and it sure beats having him injured (or skunked!).

    The training I started him with is called "escape training". It is one method and it seems to work well. Basically you find the dog's "working level" (the lowest setting at which he can actually feel the tingle......on Perry's collar it is a "3", which is also the setting I can begin to feel a sensation at). Then you put the dog on a long leash and let him wander around. You turn on the collar, and use the leash to direct him back to you. As he returns to you, you turn off the sensation. After a few repeats, the dog begins to return without use of the leash, as he understands that coming to you turns off that irritating sensation. That is the basis of the training. As you progress, the dog begins to generalize and understand that when you give a command and he ignores it, he gets a correction from the collar. I found this understanding evolved with time, and at this point Perry understands perfectly well what I am trying to convey. Consider it the equivalent of a tap on the shoulder.......a call to "pay attention". He also understands that if he blows me off I can increase the discomfort, and he prefers to avoid that. Yes, it's unpleasant. That's why it works.

    Many people do not like these collars, but I think if they are used responsibly they are an excellent tool to control the dog at a distance, and to keep him safe. All of the restraints we use on dogs cause a certain amount of discomfort.......how often do you see dogs pulling on their leashes until they gag? But used with a light touch, an e-collar can give your dog the freedom you like to see him enjoy.

    Perry on the beach.

    This wouldn't be possible for him without his collar!

  • I'm not familiar with the shock collar. What I'm curious about is what do you do when someone has two males who won't recall. Would I have to have two collars that would work on diferent frquencies?

  • @Mr:

    I'm not familiar with the shock collar. What I'm curious about is what do you do when someone has two males who won't recall. Would I have to have two collars that would work on diferent frquencies?

    You can program the controller to handle two collars. More than that, you would need two controllers. I would be worried about correcting the wrong dog! But the bird hunters who originated the idea of an electronic collar seem to manage quite well! (hunters need a way to keep their dogs off of game that they are not hunting, and that may be out of season).

    I do advise caution with e-collars. I love mine, and it has worked well for me. I have observed others (with other breeds) who haven't taken the time to introduce the collar correctly have a lot of trouble because their dogs don't understand what they should do when they receive a correction. It is supposed to be possible to deceive the dog so he doesn't understand that it is the collar that is the source. Perry is too smart for that! He knows when the collar is on he must pay attention, and when it isn't he can afford to blow me off. I do find he is safer even without it, however, because he is perfectly familiar with being loose and doesn't go nuts when he finds himself outside off lead. I have had a "senior moment" and forgotten to put the collar on before opening the door, and he recalled perfectly well without it. However, had a major distraction appeared at that moment I might not have been so lucky!!

  • I am sorry, but no dog belongs at a dog park until you have 100 percent recall even with distractions. Find a trainer, preferably one who would rather train smart with POSITIVE training than an electric collar. Electric collars may have a place for aversion (rock eating, bee chasing, snake avoidance), but in the world of GOOD training, there is no place. I am glad that much of Europe has banned them… and guess what, they still train their dogs without. It is a lazy, abusive method. It is one area that EEE and I utterly disagree on but one that I have the support of the massive amount of trainers, researches who have proven time after time after time that NO SHOCK COLLAR comes close to clicker or other positive methods.


    Call it remote training, tap technology or static stimulation training, electronic collars are certainly not welcomed from a dog's perspective. Karen Overall, a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior, also claims that when shock is used, there is always some damage, even if it is not readily observed.

    No dog owner really needs to use a shock collar to achieve his or her goals. Shock collars are used to deliver punishment for unwanted behaviors, and, as seen in the study, put a significant dent in the dog and owner relationship and bond. While this type of training may be effective, why not focus on rewarding wanted behaviors instead, so to create a better and stronger bond with the dog?


    And even the famous Robert Milner, dog hunting trainer, who used them for decades


    Compulsion training is not a function of cruelty, he insisted. Shock collars appear to offer a fast track for the average sportsman who holds down a full-time job while juggling family obligations.

    “The shock collar industry has convinced him it’s the quick and easy way to train a dog, and that’s total B.S.,” Mr. Milner observed. “Once again, studies have shown that in fact positive training yields 300-percent faster results at a fraction of the cost. Plus the sportsman ends up with a better dog and a much better relationship with the dog.”<<


    I have to stop now… my prejudice against using a shock collar makes it a topic I cannot "discuss" because it boils down to a basic belief that if you can train a dog without it, why would you? And since every study shows dogs can be trained as well or better without them, even in hunting recall ... why use them? Sure, you might get a faster response. But then, if your spouse put one on your or your children, they might get a faster response too. Is that how you want to train? If so, maybe a goldfish is a better option.

    Or take your dog HOME, work for a few weeks on getting a perfect recall, then work on that recall with distractions, then try out the park. I have seen hard very "on" dogs brought off the freaking Schutzhund field with a recall and never have been touched with an e-collar of any setting. I know hunters who never use e-collars but DO have a sound buzzer so the dog can hear/be reminded. There are tools, and then there are lazy punitive methods. I prefer to leave e-collars for life/death situations that cannot be avoided. (snakes/rocks) You don't have to go and should not be at a dog park until you take the time to TRAIN a 100 percent recall. Or find one that has enclosed fencing.


  • Hi Debra

    I was pretty sure you would weigh in on this, and we will have to agree to disagree. One thing we do agree on is the use of e-collars for training. I don't use the collar to teach the dog, only to enforce what he already knows. With a Basenji, I find this useful. With my Border Collie, or my Shepherd cross, or our Sheltie, or other dogs I have trained in the past, I wouldn't need an e-collar for a reliable recall. For independent dogs like Basenjis, I find it a good way to keep them safe.

    My boy seldom feels a full on correction, and he accepts a low level tingle or shock or whatever you want to call it in a very matter of fact way. He knows I am the source of the correction. It does not affect our relationship in any adverse way. When I call him to put the collar on, he comes immediately and is happy to see it, as he associates it with some off leash rambles, which he enjoys. I do think the collars that generate a noise as a reminder are a great idea. Especially when the dog is at a distance on a windy day, and perhaps cannot hear you. Under those conditions I have sometimes found it necessary to use the low level just to get my guy's attention, and in that instance I would prefer to use sound, but as it stands he isn't particularly disturbed by the sensation. If you saw him you would understand what I mean. I get a look from him sort of like "You rang? What do you want?" After which I can wave him in if that's what I require, or wave him on if I meant "Leave it". He understands my signals, very useful at the beach where the waves make it difficult to hear.

    I train new behaviours with clicker training, as I find it faster than anything else. Once the dog understands a command, the only issue is whether or not he chooses to obey it. Without some means of enforcing rules, you are left with hoping habituation achieved through positive reinforcement and negative punishment will be enough. Sometimes it isn't. (With many breeds of dog, "positive punishment" is achieved simply by your disapproval. Many people may not understand how sensitive a dog is to body language. You can "punish" your dog without even realizing you have done it…....which is often the reason people have training issues, when their voice is saying "yes" and their body is screaming "no!" I have seen NQs in high level obedience because the handler is tense at the show and the dog reads it as a correction, resulting in an incorrect response!)

    The best way to decide whether an e-collar is appropriate or something you want to use, is to find a trainer who uses them and audit a couple of classes. I did this and concluded I preferred to use the collar simply for insurance, not for everyday training. For that purpose I have been very happy with the results, and so has Perry.

    I always find these discussions interesting, because our society is built on a punitive system to enforce its laws. Somehow it has become politically incorrect to apply the same reasoning to our pets (or our kids!). In nature, if you don't pay attention, there are consequences. That's life. Using an unpleasant sensation to keep an animal safe is a concept I am perfectly comfortable with, and have been for the thirty years my horses have remained safely contained behind electric fences. A dog properly taught to wear an e-collar is a bit like a driver with a cop car visible in the rear view mirror. There is extra incentive not to bend the rules. 😉

  • First Basenji's

    Thank you so much! I live in Switzerland and the landscape here is amazingly beautiful, my Basenji is always off the leach, running across the fields, mountains and forests. Of course when he sees a cat, a fox, whatever moving…. buckle up he will fire after them 🙂 but he is very cool with other dogs, always lying down before approaching a colleague and all dog owners of the neighborhood simply love him. He makes all dogs run after him, keeping all of them fit and healthy 🙂

    Most recently we have been struggling to get him back to the leach in just a few occasions, but normally he is always returns to us with no major issues. In some of these instances he went really far away (over 1km), having crossed local streets, thus increasing the risk of getting hit by a car. Here in Switzerland cats have the freedom to come and go from home at any time, many of those live on the wild and cat owners have the terrible habit to leave rest of food in small pots for visitors. For any Basenji this all they look for: lose cats and free food 🙂

    I am confident I would only be using the collar on these very often occasions. I have 2 children and we don't want to go through the pan of having to setup a funeral for our loved Basenji. Having looked at "Sit means Sit", I have found many, many models. I am concerned I get one which gives too strong of sting for the size of our Basenji, although he is strong, full of muscles as he has been raised outside as I said. Looking at the options available, do you recall which one you got for Perry? Here is the link: http://shop.sitmeanssit.com/Electronic-Collars_c_34.html

    Once again thank you for taking the time to put together such a complete answer. You are very kind and we loved the pics here. As soon as we get a chance we will upload a few from Ozzy too. Kind regards, Gustavo.

  • "sitmeanssit" isn't the only "game in town" and there are lots of other options out there. I had a look, and I think they are no longer selling the model I have, however this seems to be their current replacement for it: http://shop.sitmeanssit.com/The-New-Sit-Means-Sit-Collar_p_965.html

    It looks to have similar capabilities, and I like that it is waterproof. Also, it appears to offer vibration or tone, which would be a good option once your guy understands the collar. It is a capability I wish I had with my current one, since it gives a way to communicate at a distance without a correction.

    I do urge you to be very careful with the initial training, so that you are sure your dog understands the collar and what he must do to turn off the sensation. If you ever have to use a high level to stop him from running into danger, remember to immediately go back to his working level once you have interrupted his chase. A high level shock does hurt, albeit momentarily, and will startle him, and you never want to do it except in an emergency. (if you have ever accidentally touched an electric fence, you will be familiar with the sensation, and the desire not to repeat the experience! If you have ever had a nerve conduction study done, it is much the same! Not fun, especially when you just have to suck it up and endure it. Been there, done that. But once it's over, it's over.)

    With Perry's collar, I ended up replacing the original probes with a "small dog" adapter, and I think that is a better plan for a Basenji. This is their newer model, but similar to mine. http://shop.sitmeanssit.com/Sit-Means-Sit-Small-DogComfort-Adapter-2nd-Generation_p_975.html

  • @eeeefarm:

    I always find these discussions interesting, because our society is built on a punitive system to enforce its laws. Somehow it has become politically incorrect to apply the same reasoning to our pets (or our kids!). In nature, if you don't pay attention, there are consequences.

    Yes and our laws have proven to be so very effective, no? Exactly. And punitive system is one thing, e-collars another. Yes we have to agree to disagree until this country follows others and ban them and people who use them here have to admit that oh wait…countries have learned to train without them just fine.

  • @DebraDownSouth:

    Yes and our laws have proven to be so very effective, no? Exactly. And punitive system is one thing, e-collars another. Yes we have to agree to disagree until this country follows others and ban them and people who use them here have to admit that oh wait…countries have learned to train without them just fine.

    Well, we trained without e-collars and without clickers or food rewards for many, many years. And had very reliable recalls on our dogs. But you can prove anything you want with anecdotal evidence. Bottom line for me is that the collar allows me to give Perry the freedom he enjoys. In my case, it isn't about training at all, it's about ensuring that he complies with commands he knows. Most of the time, I don't need to use the collar, just have it on him. (there are days when I discover I have neglected to turn it on.) With the collar on, he shows he can control himself and comply with commands just fine. Without it things are hit and miss, depending on the level of distraction. Understanding is not the problem here, motivation is, and like most Basenjis he is motivated to please himself, in absence of any compelling reason not to do so.

    I have monitored "positive" training classes and have heard people instructed to make sure their dogs are hungry when they come to class, so that they will be "motivated" and eager to earn their food rewards. This is the practice also used in training whales and dolphins, There are many kinds of coercion used in training. I happen to believe that what I do is less harmful than some of the alternatives.

    I'm adding to this post because I realize my opinion doesn't carry as much weight as a properly done study, so here is a link:


    _Aim: Comparing stress and learning effects of three different forms of punishment in police dog training

    Two forms of positive punishment (e-collar and pinch collar)

    One form of negative punishment (conditioned quitting signal)_

    If you don't want to plow through the entire article, you can jump to the conclusions.

    Conclusion: In this study the e-collar induced the highest learning effect and least stress. (emphasis mine)

    Note: in operant conditioning, negative punishment is removing something the dog finds desirable. Positive punishment is adding something the dog finds aversive.

  • Thanks for shedding your light and experience on such a controversial issue. Seems like Perry is very well with it.
    I have seen the article or conclusions somewhere before, but it does not seem to carry any weight with people who are against e-collars.
    On a tangent issue: in many cases I don't see that authors use the distinction between correction and punishment. It's a big one IMO: when used as a correction (in the lowest possible setting) to get the dog's attention or stop unwanted behaviour, I believe modern e-collars are just fine. Punishment (unpleasant stuff after the fact) IMO is a nono, e- or otherwise.

  • @kjdonkers:

    I believe modern e-collars are just fine. Punishment (unpleasant stuff after the fact) IMO is a nono, e- or otherwise.

    With positive punishment and negative reinforcement the lines can get blurry. e.g. livestock and electric fence. Touching the fence gives a nasty sensation, so could be considered punishment for touching the fence, or since the nasty sensation goes away when the animal ceases to touch the fence, could be considered negative reinforcement. Either way the goal of containing the animal in the field is achieved. Using a low level sensation that goes away when the desired action is performed is negative reinforcement, and is how the e-collar is most often used in training. Using it at whatever level after the dog has refused a command could certainly be considered punishment, albeit mild. Breaking up a chase by using a high level could clearly be considered punishment, but again, as soon as the desired response (beginning to return to the handler) is achieved the sensation goes away, so it could be also be considered negative reinforcement. Clear as mud, yes? Since positive punishment decreases the likelihood of an action recurring, it is likely the most appropriate label in both of these cases, i.e. the subject is less likely to touch the fence or chase the forbidden game.

    I think we get too caught up in labels. "Punishment" in operant conditioning simply means something that decreases the likelihood of an action being repeated. Reinforcement means increasing the likelihood of the action being repeated. You don't get to choose whether something is reinforcing or punishing, the dog does. His actions will tell you how your training is being perceived. Since dogs don't read the training books, we don't always get the responses we are expecting! 🙂

  • Clear enough!
    Anyway, to confuse matters even more: I found an experienced e-collar trainer on the internet who stopped using the negative reinforcement method (stimulus goes away with desired behaviour a.k.a. escape training) because he found it sets the dog up for failure and hurts the relationship. I cannot comment on it from my own experience but there you go. In the end, as you say, the dog will show, what's what and what's fine.

  • @kjdonkers:

    In the end, as you say, the dog will show, what's what and what's fine.

    The dog will always tell you when you are on the right track. Not just with obeying your commands, but with how accepting he is of your methods. I had to be very careful with my moods and body language when I worked with my Border Collie. A sharp look from me (without anything verbal being exchanged) was a severe reprimand to him. Playful physical roughhousing, OTOH, was just fine! He was an extremely sensitive dog, and would work his heart out for my approval. Basenjis, by contrast, don't usually care too much about your feelings in the matter. They certainly understand disapproval, but consider it your problem, not theirs! 🙂 In some respects, it makes them easier to deal with.

    Training methods need to be tailored to the individual. What works with one may not with the next. If you are making progress and your dog is happy, that tells you all you need to know. There is an old joke that is very true: The only thing two dog trainers can agree on is that the third one is doing it wrong!

  • Still will never agree with use of a shock collar… to each it own... but there are better ways... IMO. I would have to say as a breeder that if someone wanted one of my pups and indicated that they would use this... I would be hard pressed to ever place a pup of mine with them. My opinion, my choice

  • @tanza:

    My opinion, my choice

    Absolutely! And if I was a breeder I would have to think long and hard about placing a pup with someone who went to work and left their dog alone in a crate. Everyone has their point of view, and I don't need to convince anyone to share mine. Of course, once the dog has left your hands it is very difficult to police what is done with it. Many end up in happy situations, a few certainly do not, and from no fault of the breeder. My bottom line with any training method is to observe the dog and draw my conclusions from what I see. Not every dog will respond in the same way to the same method, and being adaptable is the hallmark of a good trainer, IMO.

  • First Basenji's

    Hi everyone, this week it is one month we have been walking our basenji with an e-collar. So what are the results? First week was tough to get him used to it. We bought the model "Quality Easypet EP-380R 1000m Waterproof Rechargeable Remote Dog Training Collar" which provides several levels of sound, vibration and electric charge. Sound didn't work and currently we use the vibration mode for the recall and also to warn him that we wish him to stay close while off the leach. Whenever he runs away towards a cat, rabbit, fox we apply the vibration and normally (in 8 out every 10 times) he returns half-way through. The reason being he knows well by now that if he doesn't respond to the vibration command and insists running away anyway towards "his prey", he will get the electric charge as a conseuqence. We use at the lowest level 1 out of 100 and it is enough to have Ozzy regreting his decision and returning to us immedietly for a good welcoming recognition. If we consider the electric charge cases then we get 10/10. So the bottom line is it works perfectly for us, I strongly recommend it. There are just 2 scenarions which the collar is not effective: thunders and fireworks. In both cases Ozzy normally dashes back home or seeks for the closer shelter possible. Guess we cannot win them all 🙂 but overall I would like to thank all the great input I got from all of you on this topic, I am very happy with the decision to go for the collar and we are delighted with the results. Let's please keep in contact!

  • I am very happy with this outcome. I'm always hesitant to recommend e-collars, not because they don't work…..they do.....but because people are impatient and often will not do the proper training that gives good results and they end up with a confused and frightened dog. Done properly, the dog understands that he controls the correction, so it is all good.

    I am not surprised at the response to thunder and fireworks. He is obviously extremely motivated to get away from both, and his fear drives him to ignore the collar. Dogs with fear of thunder will often go to extreme lengths, even injuring themselves, to escape it.

  • I still believe that using an E-Collar is not appropriate… to each their own, but again I would never place a puppy with a family that would even consider using one. Just my opinion and I have had lots and lots of experience with the breed.

  • @eeeefarm:

    My bottom line with any training method is to observe the dog and draw my conclusions from what I see. Not every dog will respond in the same way to the same method, and being adaptable is the hallmark of a good trainer, IMO.

    I don't know much, but I have learned to never say "never". I've seen trainers do amazing work with deaf dogs, using e-collars set to vibration mode as a physical signalling device.

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