@elbrant said in Adolescent howl and behavior changes:
How did you train him to walk off leash (but on collar)? Details, please.... this seems like the best of both worlds!
You might have misunderstood. I was referring to his e-collar which ensured I could "reach out and touch him" at a distance if needed. In practice I used it far more often for "leave it" than for recall, and it was extremely useful when he was ranging upwind and couldn't hear me. It enabled me to get his attention, and then I could use hand signals to tell him what I wanted.
These collars get a bad rap because they can be abusive if used inappropriately. There is no question you can give the dog a painful correction, but that should be reserved for emergencies and is a lot better than having your dog run out into traffic! (or getting skunked for that matter). For me it was a matter of being able to control my dog at a distance if necessary, and he was never afraid of the collar, despite being well aware that it was the source of those sensations when I did use it.
As for how to train with an e-collar, the short answer is that you find the dog's working level (the lowest setting at which he notices the stimulation), let him wander around on a long leash, then turn on the collar while reeling him in with the leash, turning the collar off as he nears you. Ten minutes later after a few repeats the dog is coming immediately when you turn it on. I hasten to add, no yelping, no drama, just that he has learned how to turn off the mildly annoying sensation. Pretty quickly the dog learns to generalize the sensation's removal to compliance with what you have asked him to do.
I am well aware that this is an aversive, and not for everyone, but it did allow my Basenji freedom to run loose in a variety of settings and me to relax with confidence that his recall was solid. My very first Basenji was reliable off leash without any assistance, perhaps because I had confidence from prior experience with a lot of other dogs and she lived up to my expectations. Not all of my others have been so reliable! Obviously Zande has the magic touch with her dogs, but I guess I needed a crutch to reassure me that I wasn't putting my dog at risk by granting him freedom.