Timing a Correction


In dog training a correction is aimed at telling the dog to…”Stop doing what you are doing.It can take the form of a verbal reprimand, “Watch, No, Uh etc.” or it can be a quick “pop” on the leash.

Timing is the moment when the correction is given. It is the present moment during training when the dog is making a mistake and needs to be corrected.

To clarify this concept we need to explain what is meant by present moment.

Anything that has already taken place is in the past and cannot be corrected. If you spilt some milk you cannot, not spill it. You can only clean it up. If you stub your toe you cannot un-stub your toe, the pain can already be felt. Once your dog has made a mistake it is too late for a correction…. the mistake is in the past.

You cannot correct anything that has already taken place. So the correct time for a correction is just before it happens or as it is about to happen. The very moment the dog’s head starts to turn away is when you must react to stop him from looking away or smelling the ground. While doing a down stay and the dog is about to stand up is when your timing of a correction is needed and not when he is already on his way to you.

You need to learn to “read” your dog. Look for the body language and facial expressions of your dog so that you can correctly anticipate the time when you need to correct. We all know when a dog is about to answer a call of nature. In the same way we need to know that when my dog stares at another dog or the cat, he is likely to react, bark or lunge. When I see my dog looking at the cat I say to him, “Don’t think about it!” and my dog looks away.

In the same way as you cannot correct in the past you cannot correct in the future but you can correct for the future. By working out beforehand what to look for and how to correct, I can help my dog to understand what is allowed and to prevent corrections.

For example: Before a planned training session I will place a meaty bone on a saucer on the field and “Heel” my dog in that direction. The moment his head begins to turn and he wants to look or get the bone my correction takes place, both verbally and a pop as I change direction. After a few passes my dog’s head will start moving towards the saucer but before I can react he usually corrects himself.
When his head starts swinging to the left and then immediately back is a sure indication that he is beginning the thinking.

It is sad to see how many trainers “allow” their dogs to be corrected for actions in the past that could have been prevented. These dogs soon begin to associate training with unpleasant collar corrections and before long do not look forward to the formal training sessions.

Please remember that the timing of a correction can only be applied effectively if you have the dog paying attention!!!!! !