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Shock Collar on a Staffordshire – will it work?

August 3, 2009

I have two beautiful Staffordshire Bull Terriers. I love these dogs, but I always keep in mind one important thing: they are dogs. These are not kids I can reason with and no matter how hard I try, I will fall short of being as good as Cesar Milan when it comes to dog training.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I spent a ton of time training these dogs and they are terrific little beasties. My dream is to have them both pass their CGC’s (canine good citizenship test) and then their TDI exams (therapy dog international). I live near Walter Reed and I’d like nothing better than to take the little buggers in to visit our recovering soldiers.

Aside from them being great with kids, the elderly, strangers, every nationality under the sun and even other dogs – I want the one pup, Rocket, to stop barking when he is in the yard. Cesar will tell me to exercise them. Pete runs them 3 miles every morning. Cesar will say to master the walk. I’ve had an 18 month old toddler walk him and he didn’t misbehave. Cesar may suggest I need to ‘own’ the yard. Aside from peeing in it, I’ve done just about everything I can think of when he misbehaves in the yard to ‘own’ the yard.

Here’s the real rub – Rocket is a ‘fraidy pup. He barks (in the yard, when he’s alone with Astro) when something gets his attention, when he sees a stranger or when a neighbor lets their dog loose – or when the wind blows wrong. He’s like the boy that cried wolf, we no longer trust his bark means anything. Astro barks and we come running (she has us trained well). Sporadically Rocket’s good, but not all the time. And his bark is really deep and loud. He sounds much bigger than his 42lbs.

We just put in doggie doors. So the pups (I call them pups, but they are two years old) can go outside when they have to and use the area of the yard they have been trained to use (yes, I trained them where to go potty in the yard, and about 75% of the time it works – you can be damn sure it works when I’m out there watching).

So, here we are now. A few weeks after the dog door is installed and the barky pup decides its great to go outside to bark whenever the urge strikes. If I or Pete follow him outside and correct the behavior, he stops. If we call him in, he comes running and he stops barking. But at 6:00 on a Saturday morning, he is not our favorite pup, nope, not by a long shot.

Hence, the new development – The Shock Collar. Just got it on him today. His partner in crime, Astro, thinks it’s a chew toy conveniently on her buddy’s neck and I’ve caught her twice now trying to ‘help’ him out of it. I shooed Rocket outside and did get to use it once on him (it’s by remote control).

It worked! On level two (it goes to ten), which I did test up to level five on myself first and it’s not bad at all. Now the only hope is that Astro doesn’t destroy the $135 gadget before I have a chance for the gentle correction to sink into Rocket’s bark happy brain.

The evil person that lurks inside me that itches to strap a device like this to her children when they refuse to listen is securely under control. But damn, it is tempting.

“Time for bed.”

“What? I don’t want to go to bed. It’s not that late. It’s not even dark out.”

“It’s not fair, you’re a mean mom for making us go to bed now. My show isn’t over yet.”

Zap! *picture children doing a happy little involuntary body jerk

“I said ‘it’s time for bed’.”

“Yes, mom.”

Ah, sweeter words were never spoken.

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