The "Pager," a Non-Electrical Correction
by Jim and Phyllis Dobbs
When the "Pager" was first introduced we wrote about it in our Pointing Dog Journal article July/Aug 1997. At the end of that article we mentioned that the full potential to reinforce commands with the "Pager" was unknown. Since then the "Pager" and its use as a non-electrical correction has gained in popularity.
At first the "Pager" was used mainly as an invisible check cord. Nine times out of ten all you need to do is let the dog know that you can reach out and touch him. Then like magic he will listen to you, responding to the "Page" like tug on a check cord. The benefits of having a check cord that will reach a mile, never tangle and not upset the dog are apparent.
Another use for the "Pager" has since been developed and we think it is definitely worthy of describing to you. We use the "Pager" when we teach a dog to stay and subsequently to stop and stay. This technique fits in nicely as a prerequisite for teaching the "Whoa" command. Since the "Pager" makes what you are training clear to the dog you will find that whoa breaking goes much easier and smoother.
Bird Dogs Like to Run Not Stand Still
After getting a pup hooked on hunting for birds in the field, one of the first lessons we teach a youngster is to stand in one place and wait for a long time. Teaching him to stand still early in training, will help him later to accept waiting for you to arrive and flush the bird while he is on point. We like to balance standing still with his urge to run and hunt at an early age.
The "Pager" plays an important role in being able to train a youngster to stay in one place without inhibiting him. The technique we use is to first teach the pup to stay on a platform. We teach him that the edge of the platform is a boundary that he must not step off of unless he is called.
We use the pager as a correction the moment the dog steps off the platform. In a short time, the feel of the "Pager" will cause many dogs to hesitate and pull their foot back onto the platform. The moment he steps back onto the platform, we turn the "Pager" off.
Using the pager in this manner causes him to quickly identify the edge of the platform as a boundary. If he gets farther away from the platform (about eight feet) we give the dog a "nick" and guide him back onto the platform with a lead.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term "Nick" it is a quick pulse from an e-collar that turns off automatically no matter how long you hold the button down. The "Nick" form of correction can be mild but very motivating.
Using the "Pager" to identify the platform edge and the "Nick" if he goes too far quickly causes the dog to accept staying on the platform. He soon learns that it is more pleasant to stay on the platform in comparison to what happens when he steps off of it.
We have written previous articles about using the platforms as an aid when teaching "Whoa". However, with the addition of using the "Pager" to mark the platform edge as a boundary we have found the training process to be less stressful for the dog and he will learn the lesson much quicker. In addition, the "Page" is so mild that you can begin training very young dogs to acquire the habits you will want later.
Dobbs Training Center