Force Breaking Dogs
For some, dogs are like children to their owners. When dogs render an outstanding performance indicating their comprehension and obedience skills, owners beam with pride; on the other hand, humiliation typically follows a poor display of obedience. Fortunately, this isn't the case for all dog owners.
Hunters love owning a trained dog or having the ability to train a dog with the skills most commonly used in the field (more about this at The Hunting Dog
). Resourceful hunters may elect to allow someone specialized in the art of hunting dog training to train their dog. Then there's some who feel they can accomplish this on their own using the method of force breaking.
Hunting dogs are used for their innate ability to smell, track and hear, as well as their performance upon command. Many agree that the best hunting dogs the ones that respond upon verbal command and for some, to reach this pinnacle of control, force breaking is the key.
Force breaking is a means of training a dog using pressure or force, as an "attention getter" to get the dog to respond favorably. One of the most common tools associated with this type of training is a shock collar.
While force break training is not necessarily a callous practice, it's unsettling that anyone can purchase a shock collar, place it on their dog and expect pain to equal the results they're looking for. This can be an effective training tool or detrimentally damaging to the personality, capabilities and skills of the dog. Andy Kohly, editor of Gundog Magazine, suggests that "many good dogs have been ruined by being force broken when they really didn't need it."
On a recent pheasant hunt, my husband came across a pointer that had strayed from its owner. This dog obviously oriented to hunters, didn't know whether to run, sit, lay down, or hide. The person in control of the shock collar was hitting it relentlessly. There wasn't any lesson being learned, except that the owner or person in control of the shock collar was a callous idiot.
The ultimate goal of a true hunting dog is to please their master. While some trainers may argue that a timid dog is more confident after being force broken, the opposite is generally the case unless trained with a conservative, professional trainer experienced in force break training.
Many hunting dogs are acquired as early as six weeks old, and others get passed and traded from one owner to the next-depending on the type of owner and how stringent his/her guidelines for staying power are. Whether you're the owner of a six-week old champion hunting dog, or one that has been passed down the line, if you consider force breaking, hire a professional trainer.
Force breaking is also a common method used to train dogs to learn boundaries for newly installed invisible fences. Once the underground fence has been installed, markers are put in place outlining the boundaries so they are visible to the dog. A collar and leash are placed on the dog as two individuals prepare for training. One leads the dog to within several feet of the boundary at various locations. The other person stands near the markers, touching them while firmly instructing, "No". Once the entire circumference has been covered, the dog is allowed to exceed the boundary and receive an attention getting "shock" of the collar.
There are countless dog owners who purchase an invisible fence, place the collar on their dog and expect them to figure it out on their own. While some do, it's a cruel and unnecessary process that can be avoided. When used appropriately, with quality time devoted to each training session, force breaking can render positive results regardless of whether you're training for specialized hunting or to orient a dog on an underground fence.
The problem with the method of force breaking a dog arises when a dog owner obtains a shock collar and places it on the dog, expecting the dog to respond favorably every time heat is applied. However, there is this misconception by many that the collar and force behind it "trains" the dog. Training comes from the trainer (human).