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Everyone knows that timing is crucial when correcting your K9 but few people realize they are also correcting wanted behavior as well as unwanted behavior at the same time. So how can you single out the reason for the correction and make it clear to your dog why the correction was delivered?
The way you do this is to correct disobedience and not the behavior. Let me explain. Say you are walking down the street and your dog fixates on a scent and begins to pull you in a direction you don’t want to go. Most people just yank on the chain and jerk the dog back into line. This is not good. The dog is displaying drive and the handler has just sent a message to the dog that these displays lead to punishment. When you spend hours a week building drive, the last thing you want to do is ruin all your hard work by jerking the drive out of your dog. So, what should you do in the above situation? Well, when your dog displays drive at an inappropriate time, give your dog a command to heel or to sit or something that is not submissive (like a lie down), and then when your dog refuses correct this refusal. Your dog will be receiving the correction for not obeying your command and it will be clear to your dog. Your dog might think, “Hey, can’t you see I’m busy – what a bad time to give me a command?” but that isn’t important to you. What is important is control. If you don’t have control at all times or are in a position to get immediate control then you need to learn how to do this. Having control of your dog when it is convenient for your dog is negligent in my opinion and sends the wrong message to your K9 and to the community about your accountability as a handler.
In Summary – Take control of your dog’s behavior at all times but do not discourage displays of drive. Correct disobedience by giving your dog an instruction the moment you need to gain back control of your dog’s focus and then if it disobeys – correct.
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