Learn Something New Every Day

Leash corrections are easy to use but, in the end, the dog only learns that the handler has issued a painful or uncomfortable correction. This then becomes a fear imprint, not a learning experience. The dog may become afraid of what causes the correction (ie, reaction to another dog). The dog then will turn out to be reactive to other dogs not because he doesn’t want to be ‘friends’ but because he fears the correction that he is now conditioned to expect. What the dog has not learned is what the appropriate, or correct, behavior should be.

This problem is compounded when corrective collars such as prong (pinch) collars or choke (check) chains are used. Yes, in the beginning the dog may respond to the correction but, after time, the dog may start to react to his fear of the correction. My theory of why this happens: If you were smacked every time another person walked by you might start to react to seeing another person, even at a distance, because you know a correction (a smack) is coming. You reaction may be to yell at the other person to go away but what actually happens while you are warning them away? You get smacked repeatedly until you stop yelling, which coincides with when the other person is no longer visible.

The dog may be thinking the same thing. He’s warning the other dog off, telling him to go away, because he now knows that the correction isn’t going to stop until the other dog is gone and he no longer has to warn him away. Therefore, in his mind, his warnings are working because the other dog is no longer visible and the corrections have stopped.

The only hard data or facts I have to prove this is that since I no longer use any harsh methods my dogs are more relaxed AND reliable. I am coming away from this school a better person all around, not just a better trainer.

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