Using Corrections in Dog Training – a Challenging Task

Using corrections in dog training has been a controversial subject in the past decades. In the so-called “old schools” of dog training before the eighties, corrections were imparted in a brutal and often damaging way to the dog’s physical and emotional health.

Coming from this legacy, a new wave of opinions has swung in the opposite direction. According to these new, more modern dog trainers, no corrections should be used, and the training should include only positive reinforcement or training based on rewards.

Here is outlined a balanced view. According to the book ABC Practical Guide to Dog Training, the competent dog trainer should administer corrections sparingly, effectively, and at the right stage of training. If done incorrectly, corrections should be either useless or damaging. Let’s see why.

Stages of Training and Corrections

 In this article, we learned there are four main stages of training for dogsThe first one is the acquisition stage. If you administer a physical correction at this stage, the dog will likely not be very keen on doing the command. This is typical avoidance behavior. This is why giving corrections at this early stage of training is not beneficial. First, you must increase the dog’s desire to perform the command.

The acquisition of the new behavior should entirely use the reward mechanism and not through corrections. The book’s author recommends giving corrections not earlier than the end of the automation stage

Use Corrections Sparingly

You can use corrections at the suitable stage and then, not more frequently than 1 out of 10 commands. If you keep grinding on the same command and administering correction after correction, this could degenerate the dog’s response to the command and create unnecessary stress and anxiety. 

Please focus on the successfully executed commands and reward them the instant they are obeyed. When the dog makes a mistake, go a level back from where you are (LINK) so that you can reward a properly executed command. 

Administer the Correction in a Strong Enough Manner

The correction should be used sparingly, but at the same time, it should be vigorous enough to extinguish the improper behavior one or two times. If the correction is not given in a meaningful manner to the dog, she will not get it, and thus the correction will be useless.

Corrections Should be Timely

At the same time, the correction should be timely. The dog should get the correction the moment he engages in the incorrect behavior. This is why timing is so crucial. If you miss that part, you risk that the dog misunderstands the command or the situation and you will have an increased level of confusion instead of good results in training. 

In conclusion:

Using corrections in dog training can be a sensitive topic, and it is a complex task. If done incorrectly, damage can be done. This is why this article is only informative. If you need to learn how to train your dog and impart corrections in due time and the proper manner, it is essential to seek the consultation of a professional dog trainer that will teach you to do that. 

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