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Is This Hi Tech Dog Training Gadget Worth It?

Dogs1I love new and innovative high tech stuff. I am what is referred to as an early adopter. I can’t lie, this penchant has gotten me into trouble on occasion – ok, many occasions. Nonetheless, when I heard about a new dog training app for my smart phone, I was on it like a dog on a bone. Several years ago, after we sold our local towing company, I managed to have the time available to pursue a passion of mine and become certified as an in-home canine behavioral therapist.

The method I taught at the time, was based on voice tone and positive reward training techniques. The tradition required my human clients to understand canine hierarchy. My clients were taught to think like a dog and behave like a canine pack leader. This naturally creates a strong pack dynamic that automatically elicits the animal’s respect. A strong pack instinctively means survival.

To accomplish any effective dog training, a human must have a dog’s attention. It can’t be flighty. I used a variety of very low tech devices and techniques to achieve that goal. From using a low guttural growly sound, to jiggling small pieces of metallic chain in my hands. I also incorporated collars that had a short length of chain built into them to create that high pitched metallic sound. Sound immediately got poochie’s attention. But initially, all were of limited effectiveness when the pet was more that 30 feet away, and off leash.

I’ve never been a strong proponent of electric training collars, but can appreciate their value for long range training situations. The idea of pairing an electronic collar with a smart phone seemed like a good idea. Replacing the remote that activates the shock collar with an app on your phone simplified the process. When I discovered the High Tech Pet Bluefang Smart Phone Electric Dog Fence, Training and Bark Stop Collar, I was very intrigued. A smart phone app that runs on an iPhone & Android, and could accomplish all of the following.

1) After burying the wire around your property you have an electric fence that signals the collar to provide a distinctive sound and/or electric tickle. I prefer sound.
2) Once the app is installed on your phone, you can use it to train the dog to recognize certain sounds that are triggered by your phone and coincide with the collar. Each sound means a specific commands; sit, down, stay, come etc., for up to 400 ft away.
3) Plus the collar can act independently of the phone app by triggering itself to provide a correction when the dog is nuisance barking. It can distinguish the difference between alert and nuisance barking.

It sounded like a great solution for pet owners who wanted distance control. I especially saw the benefit for training field dogs. Then I read the product’s reviews. The overall consensus was this product is not really ready for prime time. Here are some of the reasons consumers weren’t over the moon about what initially appears to be a fantastic training application.

1) The app on your phone has to be initiated and running all the time you’re engaged with your pet. The screen on your phone has to be lit the entire time, which potentially would run down your phone’s battery.
2) The reviews indicated that the blue-tooth connection dropped frequently. So when you need to use the app in a hurry, which is often the case, it may not work.
3) To re-initiate the blue-tooth connection to the collar you’ve got to power down the phone and re-install the app.
4) The batteries in the collar wear out in a few weeks.
5) Folks that have purchased on Amazon have complaints about High Tech Pet products customer service.

The BlueFang training collar could be a really good idea, but they still have a lot of kinks to work out before I would feel comfortable endorsing it.

For now – and maybe always, I’d recommend staying low-tech, old school. Dogs are incredibly smart and willing to please. If you have the right hierarchy of communication set-up, training is a matter of demonstrating, repetition, reward and of course love.

Published in Electric Dog Training