Pros: Effective If Used Sparingly
Cons: Negative Predisposition To It
My neighbor is an elderly gentleman who was a war hero, bank vice president, raised a family and is now a widower. In spite of the challenges a man his age faces physically, he runs his life with the precision of a Swiss watch. His property rivals most in our neighborhood; he is also an avid dog fancier. He always has a treat for your dog if he see's you coming. At Halloween he dresses up his house like no other and he is always available for kids birthday parties, ( they love him) barbeques and holiday celebrations. He always has a great story to tell and introduced me to the wonders of Cigars and cognac. His West Highland White Terrier, Barney, was his buddy whom he took everywhere. Last year when Barney died, Vince was overcome with grief to the extent he felt his dog days were over and didn't feel he could deal with the grief again. All of us in the neighborhood were concerned and treated him almost as if a person had passed away, taking great pains to keep him occupied. After a little time had passed, with a little coaxing from all of us, Vince suggested he was willing to consider a new Westie. For the next two months he was coming over and we were investigating local breeders on nights and weekends. One night we went to visit a breeder in neighboring Delaware where a dog found him and he was hooked!
Winston came home six weeks later, and Vince, went through all the middle of the night walks, house training and doggie obedience classes and all went well with the exception of one thing; Winston would bolt at the sight of another dog or person! I had on more than one occasion, seen Vince running all over the neighborhood only to join him in my bare feet to chase after Winston, who is a crafty adversary on foot! My real concern, however, was that Vince was certainly in no condition to be subjected to stress compounded by the physical demands of chasing a Terrier! My wife and I along with some of our neighbors, some of whom had also chased Winston at some point, had shared some serious concerns over our beloved neighbor, but we were out of ideas. This dog had been through obedience classes and responded beautifully but had this persistent problem, which posed a serious health risk to Vince, a valued member of our neighborhood family.
Winston has been an ideal pet for Vince aside from this one issue. After speaking with my puppy's breeder, I was made to revisit an issue I felt I had made my mind up on, behavioral collars. She directed me to a website that had numerous reviews heralding the benefits of the Petsafe Deluxe PDBDT PST 105 Little Dog Trainer. I had to admit, I was impressed by what I read; this felt like something I had to look into. I shared my discussion with Vince and I could see he was genuinely on the fence about it, and I knew then I had to take it upon myself to do something.
After some research, I put in an order for the Petsafe based on one of many reviews that stated it was only used once to adjust the bad behavior. Okay, shocking a dog once to alter what could be potentially mean life and death for Vince or Winston, which either way, affects them both, seemed to be a no-brainer. If it worked, it would be money well spent, if not, I could send it back for a refund.
In The Box
When it arrived, and I opened the box, I was uncertain I had made the right choice. The collar was much like any web collar you would have on any dog with the exception of the receiver, which had two menacing looking metal prongs that needed to be placed under the dog's throat! Twin CR032 lithium 3-volt batteries went into the receiver, which stacked on top of one another. The receiver featured a power led and on/off button that needs to be engaged to work. Two sets of prongs come with the package for use on different coat densities as the prongs need to make skin contact.
The transmitter appears much like a remote, requiring a 9-volt battery. On the face are located a 10 level adjustment knob, LED power indicator, Tone Only Button and Stimulation without Tone button (read shock button).
After installing the batteries I strapped the receiver on the underside of my arm and went through the levels all the way to 10. It is much like a sensation that many of us experience when receiving a hard static shock. Yes, it is repulsive but surprisingly, not what I had imagined. I determined that we would take it over to Vince and make a case for it. Vince, while being on the fence about using a "shock" collar, was open to anything that would work. After a little discussion, Vince was convinced to try it ONCE and at a low setting.
Winston is a cute little Westie with great eyes and a compelling smile. In my heart I knew that he would likely outgrow this bolting behavior, but at what cost? I hesitatingly fitted the Petsafe receiver collar around Winston, turned it and the transmitter on, set to level 1.5 and we put him in Rick and Joan's fenced in yard; this had rapidly become a neighborhood event. Rick let out his Beagle "Bailey" (I love that name for him) and the chase was on. The instructions call for a command, followed by hitting the tone button and then the stimulation (read shock) button. Winston ignored the initial vocal command, the tone alert, then I hit the shock button and he stopped dead in his tracks, which is where we restated the command, and he came. I did sense his looking a bit confused and almost thought he sought solace with a familiar face. When he came we treated him. We all looked at each other with a quizzical look on our faces. I then took out a 25 foot training lead I use and we decided to hit the streets. By this time we have Rick Joan, Bailey, Bruce, Tony and his wife Maggie with us and we proceed to turn the corner coming upon two kids on bikes which would have been irresistible to Winston. He started to bolt and I hit the tone button and to our collective amazement Winston stopped dead in his tracks and he promptly returned on command for another treat! We all look at Vince who now looks like he just saw Santa Claus!
Okay, now Vince takes the lead and seeing that we had a group, many with our running shoes on, and we take Winston off lead and continue walking. We come to a house with an invisible fence where a barking Ari, a Lab rescue, is working up a froth trying to get to Winston. Winston stops, is visibly aroused and appears to want to greet the gregarious Lab but relents after Vince hits the Tone control! Vince at this point as well as everyone in our party looks at each other, this time with a collective look of joy on our faces and we're high fiving like a bunch of drunken frat boys! Folks, I remind you, this was all after only 1 shock at level 1.5!
I have to say that I have never been on the fence regarding the behavioral collar issue; I was against them. The thought of passing an electrical shock to any living creature is frankly, disturbing and I would never have considered it had it not been recommended by my breeder whom I have a good deal of respect for. Reading the numerous reviews also went a great distance in opening me up to the idea. However, all this paled in light of the prospect of jeopardizing my beloved neighbor Vince's well being by standing idly by as he chased his dog in a panic as it ran carelessly across the road and God forbid losing him after we pushed him into getting another dog! No, I am glad I made the decision to buy the Petsafe Deluxe PDBDT PST 105 Little Dog Trainer.
Since then, Vince has returned to walking Winston off lead and while he continues to use the receiver, he has only had to use the Tone function to remind Winston of what comes next; he now has the ideal companion and now he and Vince seem happier for the experience. Perhaps he may have to use the "stimulation" button again but weigh the advantages of saving your dog or yourself against what amounts to a static shock. A dogs's attention needs to be re-directed when they are about to embark on undesirable behaviors; The Petsafe can do so at 100 yards.
A great aside of this experience is the re-affirmation of how great a neighborhood I live in. My neighbors kindly insisted on chipping in for the Petsafe, which I refused, with Vince the most adamant but I fought him off successfully as well. The strange thing here is three weeks ago, a local nursery truck mysteriously appeared in front of my house and a Flowering Pear tree, my wife's favorite, was unloaded with the driver asking us where we wanted it. We planted it near my wife's bulb garden in our side yard. After much inquiry, we suspected it was Vinces handiwork but the drivers didn't let on!
The next morning Vince was walking Winston (off lead) with his customary coffee mug, looked over coyly and greeted us. "Good Morning Louie, (he calls me Louie) lovely Pear tree Cindy" not missing a step as he walked down the street with an amused look on his face; gotta love that guy!