Updated: Oct 11, 2022
What an odd question, for a dog training page isn't it? Why am I asking it?
Everyone speeds sometimes. It may be 5 km over the speed limit or 20 km over the speed limit. Sometimes it's intentional and other times it's not.
What alters your behaviour however is the consequence of speeding.
- If I drove 10 km/ph too fast on the same road, every day because I know there is no police that'll catch me, my behaviour won't change. I'll keep doing it.
- If I drove 10 km/ph too fast on the same road, every day but get pulled over every day and let off with a warning each time, my behaviour may change once but then I'll carry on speeding. My behaviour won't change.
- If I drove 10 km/ph too fast on the same road every get pulled over and get a $2 fine, I'd be annoyed. But I would probably not stop speeding most of the time.
- If I drove 10 km/ph too fast on the same road every day and get pulled over and get a $1000 fine, I'd never speed again.
In the last scenario the consequence outweighed the benefit of the behaviour.
The same goes for dog training. Except in dog training we call this corrections.
Plenty of trainers nowadays will say to you 'corrections are terrible and cause fear, we should just reward our dogs or ignore the behaviour and it'll go away'. That's simply not true for a lot of behaviours dogs do. Do you think someone would stop speeding if you would just ignore them? I would bet good money on it that the answer is no.
What we need to look at is WHAT correction does your dog need to lessen the behaviour?
Let's take pulling on lead:
- Ignoring won't work.
- Giving verbal warnings won't work.
- Giving leash pops won't work for most dogs because they are so used to pulling that it doesn't even register anymore. That's basically your $2 fine. It's annoying, but they won't stop.
So we need to find the $1000 correction for your dog. Ideally it's something that they go 'What the heck, I didn't like that' so the behaviour drastically reduces right away.
- It could be using body pressure.
- It could be using a squirt of a spray bottle.
- It could be making a loud sound with a tin with some coins in it.
- It could be using a pet corrector which is just blowing pressurized air at them.
- It could be dropping something on the floor, like a book, so it'll make them pause.
- It could be walking around with a balloon if your dog is afraid of balloons and turning into them with a balloon.
- It could be using a sliplead instead of a harness.
1. Corrections aren't one size fits all, because dog training isn't one size fits all.
2. Corrections should not be used 10x in a 5 minute walk. If that's the case, the correction isn't working and you need to try something else.
3. Corrections aren't physical, we should NEVER hurt a dog or revert to kicking or hitting, that's acting out of frustration and your own incompetence.
4. Corrections should be in proportion, you don't give a $1000 fine for the tiniest infringement,
5. Well chosen and timed corrections don't make your dog fearful or mentally damaged.
And then, the most important thing of all is what happens AFTER the correction.
After the correction we REWARD the hell out of the right behaviour.
For example if your dog jumps up at people, he may get a correction initially for jumping. When he makes the right choice to sit, PRAISE. REWARD. YAY. Good choice!!
We show the dog hey that first behaviour gets you something you don't like. Your 2nd choice gives you something you DO like. As a result your dog will start showing more and more of the 2nd behaviour.
As Tyler Muto taught me: A correction gives you an opportunity to reward.
We need to tell our dogs: No, don't do this.. do THAT instead.
That's how we alter behaviour. That's how we get happy dogs. We have to give them feedback of what we do want. Because if we only correct and never tell them what to do instead, what are they supposed to do? That is how you create an unhappy dog. By only correcting and never showing them the right way.
So what will happen if you use well timed and proportioned corrections for unwanted behaviours followed by rewards for good behaviours?
Your dog realises he can't get away with everything and that you take ownership of a walk or a certain routine in the house. You're setting the relationship straight, where your dog can't just decide how he lives his life with you and instead starts following your lead.