© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

That Guilty Lick

The other day while being ignored Indie chewed up a pair of shoes. I caught her in the act and with a tucked, guilty tail and a sorry, sullen face she was scolded.

Me: Bad dog!


Me: No!


Me: Bad!


Her guilty, nervous licking reminded me of a time about two and a half years ago when I began to train her to hunt using an electronic collar. Transitioning from check cord to e-collar allowed my pup to freely range while providing me with some level of control. Some folks think that these shock collars are inhumane and cruel, but with the proper introduction, most dogs, Indie included, come to quickly love them, as she now knows that when she wears her e-collar, she’ll get to really stretch her legs.

I let young Indie wear her new collar turned off for a few play sessions in the backyard. Then one day while she was playing on her own I tested her tolerance. While hidden inside I watched her as I increased the tone from 0 to 1. No reaction. Then from 1 to 2. Still no reaction. But when I went from 2 to 3 she licked her lips. There was no other reaction, no yelp, no confused look, no fear, just a quick lick of her chops. I waited a minute and pressed the 3 tone again, and once again out flicked her tongue. From this day to that Indie gets a 3 when I need to get her attention, change her direction, call her back or scold her for a misstep. The only thing cruel about her shock collar is how I giggle when she licks her lips on command.

It’s funny how her reaction to a sharp scolding, a ping on the neck and a chance for amends are one and the same.

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