Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Correction vs. Punishment

When training a dog it is important to have a balanced mix of reward and correction. You can't only reward your dog when he is doing something right, but not let him know when he is doing something 'wrong'. Your dog needs to know what to do as well as what not to do. This is where corrections come into play.
A correction is not to be confused with a punishment. They are completely different things, and when it comes to dog training corrections are what you need to use. I will explain why later.
Types of corrections vary, but the fundamental purpose of one is to let your dog know when he is doing something you don't want him doing, and to discourage him from doing it in the future. It usually takes multiple corrections until your dog will stop a certain behavior.
A correction can be as simple as using your voice to tell your dog no, or it could involve a touch to the neck, a snap of the leash and any other technique as long as it makes a clear point to your dog to stop what he is doing. I prefer not to use anything that actually causes physical pain or discomfort to my dogs, like prong and shock collars. A correction is not meant to hurt your dog.


Something I want to mention is the form of correction where you make your dog 'submit' to you by pushing his neck to the ground or rolling him onto his back. I do not like this method, and in my experience it has usually made the dog act out aggressively or defensively and does more harm than good. This is usually because I or someone is doing it wrong, or at the wrong time. I believe that, unless you really know what you are doing, it is best to not use this form of correction. Dogs are not wolves, and a firm no and snap of the leash will suffice just fine.

Timing is very important when it comes to correcting your dog. Your correction needs to be at the most a few seconds after your dog has done something bad, otherwise he will not be able to connect the correction with his actions. This is where dog training and, say, teaching your child not to do something differs; dogs live in the moment, and can't relate present punishments with past actions. Yes, this means that rubbing your dogs nose in its pee is not going to do any good, it actually may make your dog aggressive or fearful towards you.

 This brings me to punishments, and why they do not work with dogs. A punishment is doing something your dog finds unpleasant in order to 'teach' him a lesson, like locking him in his kennel when you come home because he got in the trash. Your dog has no idea why you are mad, and cannot 'think about what he has done' after he has done it.Time out won't teach your dog that what he did an hour ago was bad. The only time I use time out is when my dog needs to calm down or take a breather.

As a side note, there is a training trick called the bridge effect. This is where you repeatedly say "No no no no no!!!" to your dog until you are able to reach him and give him a correction. For example, if your puppy is all the way on the other side of the room, and starts peeing, you can continuously say no! until you can reach your dog and take her outside. This can increase your time of correction by eight seconds.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jake update

Here's a little update on foster dog Jake.

Jake is a one of a kind GSP who we absolutely adore. He is so calm and sweet, and hasn't required near as much training as our previous GSP. His training is going great, he is walking very well on a leash with the help of a Freedom No Pull Harness.

He is very friendly with people and big dogs. He does act very differently around little dogs though, barking, whining, getting overly excited and alert when one comes near. We have not decided if this because he thinks they are prey or is overwhelmed by his prey drive, or if he just really wants to play with a little dog. Time shall tell.
Jake is now sitting without any reluctance at all, and the down command is my next goal for him. Like I have mentioned in many of my posts, dog training takes tons of time and patience, nothing happens overnight.
Sleeping in a crate seems to suit Jake just fine, which is best for us since he is very restless in the early mornings. He is no longer startled by loud noises, and a firm no will stop him from barking if he does startle.
The one, and so far only, bad habit that Jake has is poop eating. YUCK! My lab has finally grown out of his habit of poop eating, but now I must address this new problem.
Jake seems to do this out of either enjoyment, or a lack of some nutrient, and since we feed our dogs high quality food, I'm guessing it is the former. To help break him of this habit, I clean the yard every morning and supervise Jake when he goes outside. If I catch him in the act, I give him a firm no and if he doesn't listen at first I redirect his attention by body blocking him from his snack, saying no once again, and making him go inside.
Hopefully this habit will clear up eventually. Even though it is disgusting, you have to remember that they are dogs, and sometimes dogs do things we will never understand, and it is important not to get mad at them for being dogs.
Dogs will be dogs.