First, let me tell you that:
- I do not believe in bribery.
- I do not prevent a dog from making mistakes. I instead TEACH the dog exactly what is expected of him and then simply expect the dog to do just that.
- I praise for EVERY good decision, after every correction and for every appropriate behavior.
- I never put the dog in a situation that he is not prepared to deal with or where I am not in total control. In that way, the dog cannot fail.
- I understand, believe, and train with the belief that while training, I cannot take credit for teaching the dog anything new. I am simply translating my commands and expectations so the dog can clearly understand what each word means.
- The dog knew how to sit, down, stand and walk the day he was born. These are not new.
- I further understand that the only way a dog can ask a question is to test. Until a dog stops testing, he does not concretely understand the command or expectation.
- I must NEVER assume that a dog knows what any word or expectation means unless I teach it.
- A dog is a very consistent animal. A dog desires to please a worthy pack leader.
- A true pack leader means security, control, safety, comfort, affection, physical needs met, and lots of fun. This is a relationship of mutual respect, not worship.
I have successfully trained thousands of dogs just this way. I was very satisfied and proud of the results I was getting. I used flat collars on every dog and a pinch collar if I needed more correction. The dogs were great and the people I've trained did well. Oh, there were some who frustrated me, there were some who would not do any corrections and on and on. However, for the most part, I was happy.
Then one day a friend of mine asked me if there was a way to train dogs to listen even if the owner would not attend a class. This would be basically – Home Schooling. I got to thinking, could this be done? I believed it could. The big problem would be coming up with effective, but passive control. A "control" that made the dog responsible for the timing and level of correction needed, instead of the handler.
The "control" must:
- Produce a natural correction that the dog clearly understands.
- Not be offensive to look at.
- Be the same no matter who uses it, young or old.
- Be able to remain on the dog at all times.
- Work for young puppies, adult dogs, shy dogs and even aggressive dogs.
- Include a booklet that guides the owner step by step toward success.
This "control" and the (properly applied) method must produce desired improvement in the behavior of the dog, immediately and permanently.
Why the need for something new?
Did any of them fit the bill?
As happy as I was with the results when I used this collar, there are also many negatives.
- Many people absolutely hate the look of it and quit using the collar following class
- The people who hate the look, also avoided using the collar as it is meant to be used. Wimpy corrections just get the dog irritated.
- The elderly and the very young have much difficulty.
- Far too many people just leave the collar on all the time or worse yet, have it big enough to slip it on and off over the dog's head.
- If the dog is given enough corrections, the prongs can become weakened and come apart when the dog pulls just right.
- Often the collar is not on when it is needed the most.
- Family and friends are very critical of the use.
- The corrections needed are often far too much for young, shy, or small dogs.
As many dogs as I have successfully trained with this collar, I knew this one was not going to be satisfactory.
In my opinion, this is the most unfair, unnatural, life threatening collar you can use on a dog. When it is tightened, you are threatening the dog's very life. Far too much damage can be done to the dog's neck and many dogs have died when owners use this collar. Both the Pinch and the Choke Chain depend on physical strength and timing. I have it, most good trainers have it, some pet owners have it and both have been used for years. However, there are far too many children, soft people, elderly people and all of my relatives have neither the strength, timing or the desire to "hurt" their dogs with a correction with one of these collars.
Neither of these active correction collars would work. I had to keep looking. Electronic collars, citronella spraying collars, and the ones that send off "tones" are not at all natural or passive. That brings us to harnesses, halters, bribery, clickers and all the other fads on the market today. None of these methods are acceptable in my book for ANY beginning dog. There is nothing but positives and bribery, where is your control?
Like the line in the movie Air Force One: "If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll next want a glass of milk." So it is when training with treats. If the dog decides that the treat you are using is not quite enough, you are in trouble. I do so many private lessons with people who have tried to train using nothing but clickers and treats. IF and only IF the treats are worth it, IF the dog is not full, IF there is nothing else going on, the dog does -sometimes- fine. The dog however, is often so motivated by food, that there gets to be an obsession over it. The dog is at the handler constantly to give more and more treats. This is fine for a competition dog. However in a home, the dog drives the family crazy. I have taken in three very nice puppies 10 to 14 weeks of age, each given up to rescue because the dog had become so aggressive with its demand for treats. Children and elderly always suffer the most. There was no control, only bribery.
Clickers are fine, for teaching tricks, performances and responses. However, I have much more inflection in my voice than a monotone clicker does. I do not want to go hunt for a silly little clicker when I want my dog to come back, and a clicker does not stop a dog from being aggressive. I also find the constant clicking in a room full of clickers really irritating. I want my dog to listen to me not just anyone that happens to have a clicker in their hand. Halters are fine, once you get the thing on. The problems begin when company comes, the halter is off, and the dog is having too much fun to let the owner get the thing buckled on.
The rescue dogs of today are very often much more aggressive than even a few years ago. These dogs have not been taught to respect and often deliberately make the decision to ignore commands, and do not tolerate limits. The adopting family ends up housing a wild animal rather then a loyal companion. When you ask your dog to do something instead of telling him to do it, you are giving the dog a choice. When you give the dog a choice, what do you expect? He will always choose to do what he wants. I want my dog to think and make proper decisions. I do not want my dog to just take orders. As my companion, I value my dog's opinions and feelings – as long as they are compatible with mine. I constantly maintain the status of pack leader. Any dog or dogs that are with me are my pack. I maintain order and give direction. I make the big decisions and my pack respects me. They all know I can be counted on for security. In turn, I insist that each of them respect me and the decisions I make. My pack is not a democracy, I am in charge.
Rules of the Pack
- A true pack leader does not have to speak loudly, the pack members are always listening.
- A true pack leader does not have to wonder where the pack members are, the pack members are paying some attention at all times.
- A worthy pack leader is prepared and watchful of it's pack. With a good leader lies safety and a secure future.
- If the pack leader is worthy, every member in that pack will be there as back up and support no matter what happens.
With a true leader, there is no bribery, begging, asking, pleading or hoping necessary. There is security, trust, safety, honor, respect and absolute loyalty. This is what I have and also describes the goal I have for every dog owner that trains using my Q-collar and Manners in Minutes method. This for sure, was a tall order indeed. I most certainly had my work cut out for me!
None of the above
So I began my search for the perfect collar. I thank God for giving me the concept, but it was a long ways from the finished product. For two years, I have been up late working on my Q-collar project. Every spare moment I was trying variations of the same basic idea. My classes got sick of being guinea pigs. Poor Traci listened to more ideas and had more varieties of collars on her arm than most dogs ever see. Traci drilled holes in the numerous materials and shapes, she helped cut leather strips, pinched and clamped "things" until finally, early this year. I finally figured it out!
Traci unexpectedly passed away but during her lifetime she was constantly supportive and I could not have done this without her. She and Ruby are wonderful and very supportive friends.
Finally, I got that final breakthrough brainstorm. I changed the shape and using Play Doh as a mold, I poured some resin prototypes that could be used. I loved the results. They did just what I believed they'd do. The Q-collar was officially named and I was now even busier getting it fine-tuned. I applied for the patent. What an exciting day that was! At that point, Katie offered her help & her husband, Bob offered to have the injection mold made. I could not believe what they were offering. This was so very much appreciated. I hope they know just how much.
Then came the real challenge. Packaging, production, contacts, hot stamping, shipping, incorporation, brochures and labels. I'll tell you, it's enough to boggle ones mind! This is where we are today. We have been moving with baby steps. The steps are getting bigger, more steady, and we have begun the journey. Believe me, this is one of the most rewarding and yet frightening projects I have ever been involved with. We are having a blast, now that we can begin to share the Q-collar. I love to watch people discover my "baby."