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.

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