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Behavior Training

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Introduction to



 Dog Behavior Library

Menu of Corrections for the Dog

Introduction to the Concept of "Correction"

The goal is to have the dog realize he made a mistake and, therefore, not repeat the unwanted behavior.

Some individuals or breeds are described as "sensitive." Most Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties) fall into this category. Simply being ignored is a severe correction to a Sheltie.

On the other hand, some dogs do not seem to notice a strong collar jerk. When in fact, they do notice it, they just don't know how to respond to avoid it. When this is the case, it is usually because the training of basic manners was not implemented early enough in life. This is when it becomes necessary to begin remedial training to teach the dog how to respond correctly to a basic vocabulary.

The right type of correction results in the dog stopping behaviors you disapprove of and learning what behaviors are acceptable.

The appropriate level of correction is determined by the dog's behavior. If your dog responds quickly as desired, the level is appropriate. A correction may only interrupt the unwanted behavior and not teach the dog not to repeat that behavior in the future. Teach the dog an alternative behavior to replace the unwanted one.

If the dog responds with a fearful cower of ears, tail, and eyes down, head turning away from you, then your correction needs to lighten up. If the dog rolls over or urinates, then you correction was too harsh and your dog is feeling threatened by you.

As soon as your dog shows any sign of being sorry, you must immediately stop the correction. Continuing a correction after a dog "gives" is bullying the dog. If the dog is already in this posture and you (the teacher and leader) continue to correct or punish him, it is normal dog behavior to either flee from you or fight (become aggressive).

The joy of a relationship is love. Therefore, we must be careful not to damage the relationship. This can be done by doing too little guidance and unclear training and from too much correction.

Start with the Lowest Level Correction Possible

Non-Physical and Non-Verbal Corrections

Level One:  The lowest level of correction is withholding a desired reward. This might mean withholding attention (ignoring the dog), withholding praise and affection or delaying food or a greeting.

Level Two:  The next level is a postural correction. This might be leaning over the dog coupled with a stern look.  some dogs are more responsive to this than others. The postural correction may or may not be coupled with a verbal correction.

Level Three:   The next level up is physical separation, or "owner out of sight."  This is also called a "time out." This could mean putting the dog outside or in another room or keeping him tethered for 10 to 20 minutes on a short lead. The effect is to remove the dog's freedom of movement. If a dog is immediately and consistently put in a "time out" after unwanted behavior, he will learn quickly to associate that unwanted behavior with the "time out" loss of freedom and social contact - both important to dogs.

If the dog is aggressive in any way at any time, it is important to begin remedial training and consult with a veterinary behaviorist. Ask your veterinarian to help you fit a head collar to wear all the time connected to a long lead. Use the lead to move the dog into time out.

If you fear your dog may bite, have your veterinarian fit a basket muzzle (cookie mask) until you see a consistent relaxed muscle tone in your dogs body language with no sign of lunging to bite defensively or offensively. Aggressive postures include a stiff (frozen) stance, ears pricked, hair bristled, pupils wide, leaning forward and a crinkled muzzle. You may or may not see the dog's teeth.

Go to Page 2 - Verbal Corrections

It is important to earn the dog's respect with clear, consistent instruction and praise before implementing corrections.

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