Calling All Dogs
---- of barking and beeping
Several seasons ago, I parked my camper on the lonely sagebrush banks of the Little Wood River. I was there to hunt sage grouse, and my male Brittany sure knew it. He was panting and prancing all over the place, telling me it was time to grab the guns and GO! But then I spotted a big brown trout finning steadily in the river’s moss-filled current. I decided to go fishing first and maybe sagehen gunning a little later.
by Richard North
Naturally the Brit didn’t like that news, especially when I chained him to the shady side of the truck. I would have let him tag along, but his free running always spooked stream fish badly.
I hadn’t walked 50 yards upstream and my canine pal started his mournful "abandoned" howl. I walked faster, hoping he’d stop when I got out of sight. It didn’t work. Over the Little Wood’s vast sagebrush flats, Ruff’s miserable barking and moaning carried a full mile in the still September air. I caught a few nice browns that afternoon, but the enjoyment was tempered by that blamed mutt howling non-stop in the background.
The following summer, while bass fishing on Anderson Lake east of Coeur d’Alene, I again tied Ruff to the truck while boating around nearby. Over the glassy water came the mournful howling, disturbing not only me but several other anglers working adjacent weedbeds. I knew it would do no good to scold and slap the pooch around when I returned to him. He probably hated being left so much that he would probably howl instinctively and automatically, anyway.
That’s when I ordered a No-Bark Training Collar from D. T. Systems. This clever device is a shock collar with a small "mike" resting against the dog’s larynx. Two shock electrodes are located on each side of the mike. Whenever the pooch howls or barks, the mike triggers a half-second shock to discourage the noise. A four-second delay is built in before the next shock, so the mutt is popped only at the beginning of each howl. Shock intensity can be varied easily as needed, and long/short electrodes are provided for dogs with light and heavy coats.
Fantastic! As the company recommends, I first tried the no-bark training collar under supervised conditions in our back yard. Through the window we watched our chained Brit "work up a pout" and start to whine, and then graduate to his howl. When a certain pitch had been reached, we saw him jump and yip in surprise. He was quiet for a while, then he began to whine again. He barked at us, and then jumped again. He automatically yipped at the pain, but the collar’s built-in delay kept him from being hit again for it. After this, he would whine, but then would "remember" that that led to no good, so he would just pull on his chain. Finally he lay down and just watched the back door.
When we went out and unchained him, he was trembling slightly, but he was a hyper-Brittany, whose father was a field trial champion, so he was always trembly. He seemed to learn the lesson. After that I used it a couple times more as a needed reminder, but from then on, when I tied him to something and left him behind, he just settled down, curled up, and accepted the situation, although would look up forlornly. For its cost, the no-bark is an investment in peace of mind we should have made years ago!
Another dog electronics device I was much impressed with last fall is the "beeper collar." You can pick among several brands in outdoor mailorder catalogs. These waterproof collars emit electronic "beeps" at regular or ragged intervals while your dog is casting about in heavy pheasant cover, or maybe far away in tumbled chukar rocks.
A beeper’s main function is to keep dogs located so they don’t cast too far, head in the wrong direction, or hit a silent, unseen point.
OK, so how is this better than an old-fashioned dog bell? For one thing, electronic beeps are louder and more distinct than bell jangling and carry well to about 300 to 400 yards. More importantly, when your dog goes on point a beeper speeds up or regularizes its frequency so you can get over there quick! A bell just goes silent on a point, so you must struggle to locate your dog quickly in cover – or wonder if the long-legged critter strayed over a ridge somewhere.
My first experience with beeper collars was along the lower Payette River with two friends from Oklahoma who wanted to try their wide-ranging bobwhite pointers on Idaho pheasants. At first I thought my inexpensive dog bell worked as well as their $120 beepers, but soon I lost track of Ruff in thick brush and started working up a sweat trying to relocate him. Meanwhile, my two Oklahoma pals easily followed their beeping pointers until the sound suddenly turned steady. We all hurried over and found one dog locked on a big rooster while his kennelmate backed him nicely. When that cackling longtail folded in a sweet feather puff between two yellow cottonwoods, I wanted a beeper collar BAD!
On Dog Training Rules