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Timing Corrections

By Robin Tierney

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Often, people who use leash/collar corrections wait too long or keep tug-tug-tugging without success. Today's tip is on the timing of corrections used when training dogs. The contributor is Eric Lundquist, owner and trainer at DogStar Training Systems in Connecticut. Visit Eric's site at: http://dogstar-systems.com/ezine.htm

Timing is Everything

When training your dog, the timing of corrections is critical. "When a correction is timed perfectly or near perfectly, with the offending behavior, it will redirect your dog's focus for a fleeting moment," explains trainer Eric Lundquist. "If during this incredibly brief window of opportunity you can insert or re-insert your command, you can often change your dog's focus."

If the correction or the re-command is not done with close-to-perfect timing and technique, then it has little effect, other than to desensitize the dog to further corrections. Which will only delay further training.

"To be effective, the dog needs to have a really good grounding in obedience commands, and needs to have good response to you under no distractions and low-level distractions," says Eric.

Developing good technique involves starting with the right instruction (available from a good trainer, books or videos) and requires practice in order for the technique to become an ingrained habit, a muscle memory. Eric compares it to learning to drive a stick shift. Some people hesitate when giving a correction; however, hesitation will render the correction ineffective. Thus, the dog continues pulling or engaging in the undesired behavior.

Key points to know before making corrections:

1. Train the dog well so that he/she understands what behaviors are rewarded, and what behavior results in being corrected.

2. Gain the dog's respect by being consistent in your behavior and commands. A dog looks to us for leadership because he respects us, not because he fears us, or only because we give him treats.

3. Accustom the dog to a consistent way of living. Avoid indulging in an excessive amount of spoiling behaviors.

4. Use caution when using crates for time-outs. A crate should not be used in a way that the dog may perceive as punishment. Don't create a negative association. For example, don't put the dog in a crate while scolding him; calm down first. Make being in the crate a positive experience.