Monday, June 22, 2009

Evil word of the day...C-O-R-R-E-C-T-I-O-N

Many people hate correction. They think it is evil and a horrible thing to EVER do to a dog. Talks of alpha and dominant are banned at their dinner tables and god forbid a person every get cross with their dogs.

Even the word CORRECTION (insert scarey music here) is a negative word. Why??

What is wrong with letting your dog know they are doing something that will not get them a reward?

Yes we can reward good behavior, definetly. But what is so wrong with telling a dog "no, you did not do what I wanted, no cookie for you".

Some call it a "no reward marker"----it is still a correction.

What I see MORE of is people letting their dogs run their lives. OR, people using correction "incorrectly".

When my dogs choose not to come to me, I don't just ignore it and say "oh well...he is distracted"...is that what you will say when your dog gets hit by a car?? NO.

It is the same thing every single time...for example:

Zip Come!
HEY!! walk towards Zip.....hardened eyes--making it very clear I am not happy with her response to that command.
Zip turns, acknowledges I exhist
I turn AWAY from her and say Zip come!
She sees I am no longer upset and the pressure is off of her, she comes
I pet, treat or whatever to show her I appreciate her behavior!

TADA!!!! No magic! Just showing the dog that coming is GOOD and not coming is BAD.

I don't need a long line, a leash, a SHOCK COLLAR, or whatever other contraption you can come up with.....just my voice.

I don't nag, I don't go drag my dog to the spot they were supposed to come (hello!!? they weren't listening in the first place.....do you really think they know where you wanted them to be??).

I let them MAKE THE CHOICE to come to me...

Choices...dogs have choices, they either choose to do as they are asked, or they choose not to...it really is that simple.

From my experiences....people who hate correction do not properly understand how to apply it. Correction is not always beating a dog, yelling at a dog or doing alpha rolls etc. In reality one should not have to go to those lengths very often if at all if the dog understands correction.

Correction can be a time out, pulling a dog for a startline stay, not letting a dog have their sheep etc etc.

At a clinic with Kathy Knox, she stated the most important thing about a correction is what you do AFTER the correction. You can't stay mad, you can't worry about things, it just is what it is, the dog is no longer doing the bad behavior and it is back to a clean slate.

I have to preach this to my students all the time...people like to simmer on stuff, dogs don't....so a trainer has to learn to be a bit bi-polar....happy, then bothered, then happy again etc etc. When you correct, YOU MUST reward when the dog is no longer doing the bad behavior!!!

In herding, I always laugh that people say the dogs are not rewarded enough, just correcting the wrongs...never being positive. Incorrect....the dog gets the sheep..the ONE THING they want more than ANYTHING in this world....when they are right, they get the sheep, when they are wrong, they get a correction, they comply and THEN they get their sheep (aka the reward!!!!).

There is a big trainer who states"positive is not permissive" in one of her books...she uses techniques that employ correction in her training! GASP!!! She really does! Time outs for broken startlines?? Yep...a form of correction...I was told once this trainer NEVER used correction, only positive motivation...um...no. Incorrect. Taking something away from a dog when they are being naughty is definetly a form of correction. Aka, grounding a person....taking away their car. Most teenagers would find that to be a correction :)

Just because someone uses correction does NOT make then an evil dog trainer.

Oh the flip side of correction....if used incorrectly, can be bad (JUST as letting a dog get away with everything can be!). If you are not fair with a dog in regards to correction, you will get one of 2 things:

#1 Dog shuts down and they don't want to work anymore

#2 Dog blocks you out and becomes "hardened" to the correction, requiring the trainer to increase the correction level to get the desired response.

Neither of these are good, a dog should understand a correction as "not right, try again" aka it is safe to try again. If a person is not fair with correction, the dog doesn't trust that it can try again.
ALL my dogs know they can always try again and if they get it right LOTS of positive things happen. My dogs don't melt when I correct them, nor do they try to block me out and ignore me. Correction is a means of communication that helps build trust between a human and dog. Just as positive associations do.

I get tired of hearing all the horrible press the word "correction" gets...it has a place in dog training..if used correctly it is a great training tool, increasing the amount of communication between dog and handler. Anytime this is achieved you will get better understanding and build more trust between the two.

4 comments:

Dianna said...

Great post! I have been very frustrated with the "positive only/ no correction" training methods. I look at it this way, if I was starting a new job, i'd want them to actually TELL me what I had done wrong (as close to the time I did it as possible), rather than make me constantly guess. I feel it takes much longer to try and train a dog with no correction at all, and frustrating for some dogs, depending on the dog. Don't get me wrong...I learned to train dogs the old fashioned way.."first you pop them, then you praise" That is not the way to go either.
Thanks for the post.

Kathy said...

Very good post, Loretta.

Our new puppy is at the bite your ankle stage. If I didn't let him that it was wrong, I would have little tooth holes and scratches on my ankles. And those little teeth hurt!! But we correct him, and then let it go.

As you stated, it is very important when working them on sheep to correct and release that pressure. I have heard more than one trainer, sheepdog and horse, say that the release of the pressure after the correction is more important than the correction itself.

BCxFour said...

Most EXCELLENT post!

So many times I see my dogs show obvious relief when they are corrected and the behavior I want is reinforced. They know when they are not pleasing you.

Then you wrote about correcting and letting it go...not to harbor it or any any frustration. As it is with human relationships - that is a good thing to practice in all walks of our lives. Let it go an move on.

Thank you for such a wonderful article!

fulltiltbcs said...

Thanks ladies!

I just get SOOOOO tired of people thinking corrections are evil and anyone who corrects their dog is satan! LOL