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Are Corrections Required in Dog Training

Doggos.com

February 3, 2021

No.

In fact, most professional dog training associations explicitly advise against the use of corrective tools when training dogs for clients, and some even forbid their use altogether. The reason for this seemingly harsh stance on correcting a dog is because there is a growing body of evidence that shows anything that can be trained with corrections can also be trained without them.

Because members of professional dog training associations are required to follow the rules of their club, most advise against using corrections and will be able to provide a multitude of alternative techniques to teach your dog the same behavior. While training without corrections can take longer, the broad application of this kind of training means it is very popular, as most dog owners will not be bothered by an additional week or two of training, as long as the dogs obedience is reliable.

Why Are Corrections Used?

There is no requirement to be part of an association to be a professional dog trainer, and ultimately, all trainers have their own unique perspective and approach to solving problems. Different parts of the world favor different techniques, as well as different breed clubs and sports.

Just because a trainer is using corrections to train a dog does not mean the training isn't effective. Historically, corrections have been used in training animals for much more time than they haven't. The primary argument against them being that they can be stressful and inhibit your dog from learning at all, but when used under the right circumstances they can still be an extremely effective component of training.

Corrections are generally used to stop a dog from repeating a certain behavior, or decrease the value of something a dog really wants. Correcting a dog for a behavior you don't like while rewarding them for behaviors you do like is the classic approach to training, but that doesn't make it the only way. Every dog is different, and what works for one dog may have very counterproductive effects on another.

Is it OK to Use Corrections?

It depends on when, why, and how you use them. In modern dog training, there are only a limited amount of acceptable corrections, which include:

  • the word “No” / verbal corrections
  • collar corrections
  • taking away or withholding a reward

Hitting and throttling (choking) a dog are not corrections, they are abuse, and have no place in professional dog training.

Corrections Decrease the Likelihood a Behavior Reoccurs

You can think of “correcting” a dog as doing anything that decreases the likelihood of the behavior they were being corrected for (and a reward as anything that increases the chance they’ll behave that way again.)

When people think of corrections in dog training, images of training gear like prong collars often come to mind, but not all corrections involve the use of special tools. In fact, most dog owners correct their dogs throughout their lives, whether they realize it or not. Saying “No,” as your dog rushes guests is a correction. Not letting your dog run through the door and making them wait, instead, is also a correction.

Who Uses Corrections?

If your dog is a pet, and you do not need a very high level of reliable obedience training, you may never choose to use collar corrections with hem, but when training dogs for working jobs like policework and dogsports, corrections are a valuable communication tool, and can be mild (verbal corrections) or severe (collar corrections) depending on the work the dog is expected to do.

For example, it’s not uncommon to use a collar correction when teaching a dog advanced behaviors like heel, whereas it's possible to teach a dog the basics of walking on a leash completely without them. In conjunction with rewards, corrections simply help guide a dog toward the right behaviors, and are generally phased out with time.

With all that being said, the use of corrections is one of the most divisive topics in dog training today. Whether you’re talking to a professional trainer or an experienced dog owner, everyone has an opinion on whether or not corrections should be applied in dog training at all. Whether or not you choose to use them with your dog will ultimately depend on your goals, your individual dog, and your comfort with using corrective tools, like prong collars or eCollars.