Consequence; the “evil word” of Canine Accountability

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Kids have time outs, drivers get tickets, thieves go to jail. So why is it so inhuman to give a dog a consequence for his actions?

by Laura Pakis, Certified Dog Trainer and Professional Blogger,

Your dog isn’t jumping on your friend because he’s afraid of the doorbell. Nor is he pulling you to the ground while lunging after the cat that just passed for the same reason.  Your dog has no manners because you’ve allowed him to practice bad behavior time and time again with zero accountability.

What can you do about this? Learn how to use praise and proper correction.

Real balance and full comprehension of what is expected of us is acquired through both “Yes”, good job, keep doing that, reward, and “No”, stop doing that, consequence. Without the “No” and an understandable correction for doing something wrong, you don’t have the full scope of learning. The rules just aren’t clear.

Giving a proper correction will not hurt your dog. But it needs to be performed with timing and reward. When used correctly, a correction refocuses your dog by telling them, “STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING!”

How to give a proper correction

Effective corrections are mandatory.  One effective correction is better than 100 ineffective corrections.

To give a proper correction requires a quick “pop” and release of the leash, while saying “NO” at the exact time you give the correction.

The key to the correction is a balanced scale. The scale is based on praise and corrections—right versus wrong. You always want to have as much fun as possible when training your dog so don’t forget to let him know when he has done something right!

A proper correction is about speed–not strength.  It’s a leash pop or snap.
DO NOT tug, lurch or pull on the training collar nor should you hold it tight. All are ineffective and will only hurt your dog.

When giving a correction you want to be sure you correct in the proper direction. For example, for the HEEL command correct back towards his backside. For the SIT you correct up and back behind his head. For the DOWN correct down toward the ground.

Your dog is your gauge as to what the consequence should be.

A correction is performed unemotionally while keeping a level tone in your voice. Never yell or scream, your dog has better hearing than you do.

If he responds to a verbal NO, then that is all that is all he needs. But if he continues to perform the same bad behavior, then the consequence needs to be firmer (and you will need to use a training tool such as a martingale, slip collar or prong collar to accomplish this consequence).

Only correct your dog if he understands what is being asked of him. The way you gauge this is if you ask him to do a command and he does it 3 to 4 times in a row—he knows the command. After he knows the command then you should correct him if he does not respond to the command.

After a correction has been given, IT IS FORGOTTEN

After a correction has been given IT IS FORGOTTEN—no matter what your dog has done (even if he chewed your favorite shoes or spread the garbage through the house!). Remember, unless you catch him in the act you cannot correct him. If you catch him in the act, issue a fair correction and carry on. Do not hold a grudge, remain mad, or stare down towards the dog. This will only intimidate him and possibly make him fearful of you. Your dog wants to make you happy and listen out of respect not because he is fearful or dominated over. An authoritative approach is best rather than authoritarian.

Balance your praise based on your dog’s performance.

It is critical that you praise your dog to reward good and wanted behavior. However, if you had to tell your dog multiple times before he complied with your wishes then he should not receive the same amount of praise as if he had obeyed on the first command. Amazingly, he will understand and work toward the high praise.

While your dog is in command give high verbal praise with much emotion and tell him he did a good job. Petting while in a command will most likely lure him out of it which isn’t fair. Highly emotional praise is ONLY GIVEN to your dog if he has done what you asked of him the FIRST time you asked and WITHOUT having to give a correction.

If you give a correction to your dog you must still give praise, but with less emotion. Once you release your dog from the command then lavish him with petting for a job well done.

This is how we motivate him to work for us.


Dogs are being euthanized at an alarming rate day after day for behaviors that are one correction away from being resolved – jumping, mouthing, bad manners, resource guarding, reactivity, uncontrollable energy, and not listening. When the choice to end a life is found more acceptable than training to stop bad behavior, there is a problem. EVERYONE needs consequences.

A proper correction will not harm, break your dog’s spirit, or break your bond with your dog. In fact, with praise and consequence you will have an amazing relationship with your dog.

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