One of the most important parts of the learning process is right and wrong. As we grow up we learn right and wrong, and even in our career we understand right and wrong. We understand that there are consequences for bad decisions, even in our daily life. It is all part of learning.
Our dogs need that same teaching too, because there are times they are going to be wrong too. The best animal trainers are the ones that are able to correct the animal with the most appropriate correction that is least likely to jeopardize their relationship with the animal, yet gets the message across. In many cases the correction might be nothing more than having the animal repeat the behavior again.
There are many misconceptions about corrections. Many of these misconceptions come from a small group of people who believe that the animal should never receive a correction. After speaking with many of these people, I have simply found that most of them do not know what a correction truly is. Some of these people also believe that you should never say the word “No” to your dog, because they define that as a “correction”. Unfortunately, the people that use this type of training are living in an absolute dream world. There is no successful animal trainer that I have ever met in all my years of training that has ever bought into this ridiculous notion.
Sometimes I like to think of animals being so much like people, and many times I like to use a child as an example. What would a child be like if he grew up never knowing right from wrong? The child would be robbed of having the opportunity to simply understand what’s acceptable and what’s not. Children need to know that there are parameters or boundaries that are acceptable or unacceptable, and your dog needs to understand right and wrong too. It’s up to you as his owner to teach him that. At the same time, as you do this, it is also your responsibility as an owner to do this in a humane way that does not hurt or abuse him, yet gets the message across.
As I said earlier, I really believe that most of the people that have bought into this idea really have a misconception about the word “correction”, so let me give you my definition. Let’s say I am talking and you’re teaching me a phrase. I repeat the phrase and you interrupt me to tell me that I said a word the wrong way. I start the phrase over again and repeat it the word correctly. What just happened was you simply corrected me, and I repeated it and said it correctly. That is all a correction is. By not understanding what a correction is and not correcting your dog, you are not only confusing him, but he will never understand what you want, because he will never learn right from wrong. A CORRECTION IS NOTHING MORE THAN AN INTERRUPTION.
There are three types of corrections: