Because of the high energy and wolf like instinct of Huskies, it is very challenging for off leash activities. In my quest to manage my dog’s energy and psychological needs, off leash was off-limits. Then I met a professional trainer that gave the dogs their freedom– eCollars(GPS Collars). In properly learning how to safely and humanely use this technology, I was able to let my dogs free range, run wild and live free.
As with most technology, this has evolved over the past twenty years that I have been using it. I have tried or considered every eCollar on the market. I have become an expert in their capabilities and proper use. This technology really has been the basis for enabling me to do all of what is the WooFDiver.
The first system I purchased was a TriTronics two dog system. This was under the advice of my master trainer. This system had many levels of stimulation. This enabled me to give varied feedback to my dogs based on desired results though reminders or corrections. It simulated my position with my dogs as their Alpha.
eCollars are often a controversial training method. But dogs are pack animals, and northern breeds are among the closest relatives to the wolf. They do not respond to food or positive motivation training as well as other breeds. The extreme activities and freedom I wished to share with my dogs necessitated firmly establishing myself as their Alpha. After initial training I rarely use anything but the lowest “reminder” settings. Even during training I seldom increased above that. In fact, many collars have other stimulations other than mild shocks, like tones and vibrations. Once the dogs are trained to listen to your commands, the stimulus can be very minimal. In initially establishing a pack, especially with young dogs, conflict can arise between the dogs. This system also enabled me to minimize the conflict and teach the dogs to interact less aggressively. To this day, years later, that aggression is now almost always limited to playful rough housing and results in no injuries.
As this technology has evolved, I have purchased newer collars taking advantage of new capabilities. The latest, and most freedom giving of these, is the addition of GPS tracking. The first system was the SportDOG TEK1.0. I was very excited. This would allow me to let my dogs roam a bit deeper into the woods, brush and farm fields that we run. I could monitor their distance from me when they left my immediate eye contact. I could track each individual dog and send out individual simulations as needed to bring them back if they wandered to far.
is a leader in GPS technology, so naturally it did not take long for them to enter the eCollar market. They had a GPS only system called the Astro, which I used in conjunction with a non GPS eCollar before I got the TEK1.0. This was cumbersome using two separate handheld devices and collar devices. With the success of the TEK1.0 system, Garmin acquired TriTrinics to better compete.
Their all-in-one solution is called the Alpha100 and does everything the TEK1.0 does, with a number of improvements:
- Mapping capabilities, to graphically track each dog’s movement.
- Stats like speed and distance for each dog.
- Preset max distances between you and your dogs, with an alarm if exceeded.
- Many of Garmin’s standard GPS features like Waypoint and locations of vehicles.
- If a dog does roam to far, you can use the handheld device to direct you to their location.
- The ability to individually flash a led on each dogs collar to help locate your dogs in the dark.
- Adaptable to most eCollar style straps, unlike the SportDog system that requires the use of its integrated collar/strap.
- Single antenna, rather than TEK1.0’s two, is less cumbersome
In addition to the Garmin Alpha in the field, I use some of my other eCollars for different applications. Such as:
SportDog SportHunter 1825 is a lower profile without antennas. When doing mushing activities, I often want to go off leash short-term. The bulkier systems are cumbersome. This limited system is small and sufficient for a swim quick in a river or a jaunt in a field.
SportDog YardTrainer is an older unit I still use. It is smaller for the dog and so is the controller. I use this when the dogs are in the fenced in yard. The smaller size controller is more convenient to carry around the house.
Dogtra Edge is another older unit I still use. I have combined the dog receivers onto the same strap as the invisible fence receiver. I use this system at my mountain cabin as an all in in one solution. This unit is also nice because the transmitter has a separate button for each dog. Each dog also has a color coded light so I can visually monitor each dogs position at night.
Garmin GPS GTU 10 Tracking device. All of the systems above are used for training. And are not functional when the dog exceeds the maximum distance the system is design to work with-in. The Garmin GTU 10 works outside of handheld GPS tracking systems range by the use of mobile phone technology. If, for some reason, a dog went beyond the range of my other devices, this system would be a backup that I could use to find my dogs any where they went. I used this mostly when I was initially training my dogs for free ranging. They are thoroughly trained now and I do not need to use it any more.