We all love a well-trained dog. But training a dog is not always easy and we need all the help that we can get. These days electronic training units are very much in vogue. After our first dog training unit which we reviewed a couple of months ago we received a request to take a good look at the BigLeash from DogWatch and supplied by courtesy of Ace Dog Supplies. The BigLeash seems to be the top dog, so to speak, when it comes to these remote training units.
I don't know if my dog was looking forward to this training session but I certainly was and here are the results.
When you get a dog from the pound or from the RSPCA, like we did with this dog, you never know what the background of that animal is when it comes to training and habits.
It was obvious that our Labrador cross had been neglected and maybe even abused in her previous short life. But it was also quite clear that she did not have a mean bone in her and that she was quite willing to learn and to please. We live on a reasonably large property with kangaroos all over the place. I don't mind for her to chase a rabbit but roos are a different matter: often a dog will come off second best if the kangaroo turns around and kicks the dog.
So how to teach her not to give chase?
I thought the BigLeash would come in very handy here.
Let's first check out the feature set.
The BigLeash consists of a receiver collar that the dog wears which communicates with the handheld transmitter, making it the only remote trainer with two-way communication between the two units. This allows you to always know what the status of the communication is, whether the dog is still in range (effective up to half a mile) and whether the batteries need to be recharged.
More importantly, it will tell you the correction level and whether you are working with Dog 1 or Dog 2. Yes, you can train two dogs at the same time! Each dog can have a separate training setting. There are up to 10 training levels of correction and three training settings, being Audible, Brief and Continuous training modes. These are conveniently marked with A, B and C buttons. So your dog can be trained with just an audible signal or a vibration training setting as well as with 10 Correction settings.
Let's make no bones about this: "correction" ranges from a mild correction that you hardly feel to a fairly strong correction. How strong? I tested it out on my upper leg before putting the collar on my dog. I did not feel anything at all with the lower two settings but the sharp jolt that I felt at the higher settings made me feel very confident that this would be an effective training method! And I stopped at level 7....
So it is important to always start training at the lowest effective setting, in my case this would be around the 4.
Training and Progress
After charging up both units I fitted the collar on my dog. I had to trim off a little bit off the collar as my dog is only medium-sized and let her get used to the idea of wearing another collar for the next few days. As an aside, this is the first time she was going to be trained with the assistance of an electronic Remote Trainer is our previous review was done by another team member with his dog.
You know that the dog is getting a quick correction when she twitches her head in the direction of the receiver as if to query where that came from...
Then it is back to basic training accompanied by a brief signal so that she would associate my command with the signal. No corrections are given when she does what she is told to, of course.
If the dog wore the collar all day and you don't switch it off in between training times then it is recommended you recharge the batteries on both units every night. This can conveniently be done at the same time with one cable.
It's good to know that the whole system is waterproof for our dog has a habit of cooling herself off in the dam!
We won't go into all the features of the BigLeash system as you can easily find it on their website and there are also videos available to show you how it all works. Rather I'd like to concentrate on the results because that is what counts.
We started the initial training when we issued a sharp "come" command together with a short pulse. It didn't take long before she got the hang of it and associated the corrections with my voice.
Next we progressed to associating the correction when I commanded "no" as when she would bark excessively or started to chase roos. This worked like a treat and probably even better than a treat even though rewards are very important when she does the right things. But negative reinforcement can be just as powerful to break a negative habit. Particularly if she gave chase after a mob of roos there was no way I could stop her previously. Now it was a matter of cranking up the correction level a bit and pressing the Continuous button for just a few seconds before she responded and came back. It's a good thing this device can cover quite a distance as my dog was way beyond shouting distance when she turned around.
I have a feeling that with the BigLeash you're always in control in unexpected circumstances.
We have an open gate and on occasion our dog would escape. Now it's a matter of catching her in the act as she trespasses the forbidden boundary before we can remind her how far she can go.
That the BigLeash works as advertised in all aspects is pretty clear. We have not yet begun to explore all its features and possibilities. That will come over time and any further findings will be posted in this review as well if they are significant. The main conclusion is that the BigLeash has greatly helped in the training process of our dog. That's quite an achievement given her history.
Are there any negatives?
Not really although I would have wanted the battery life to have a longer endurance.
Perhaps a training video would have been helpful to including the package but videos can be easily found on the Internet.
The BigLeash deserves the title Top Dog when it comes to the results, flexibility, features and range.
Good results can be obtained by a consistent training regime without any electronic assistance as well but having the BigLeash makes it quite a bit easier to get your dog's attention. Again, nothing takes the place of patient and loving training of your pet and, ultimately, the day will come when my dog too will be the perfectly behaved puppy that she is and I can take her training wheels off so to speak. But for now I still have a bit of work to do.
I can highly recommend the BigLeash if you need assistance with your training. And read the manual well as it contains quite a few solid training tips.
Doggie doors are another great product for well trained dogs. The idea is that your pet will enter and exit at their own will when they need to go.