When and What Corrections, If Any, Are Acceptable in Dog Training

Correction? WHAT!

Whisper the simple word “correction” in a crowded room full of dog trainers and you might just get flogged.  The word brings up visions of hitting, kicking and strangling dogs in the name of obedience.  What does correction mean?  Is it synonymous with change or punishment?   What does correction mean to you and your dog?

So, first I think we need to define “correction”.  I went to thefreedictionary.com to find more answers, and I came up with a couple of definitions which, indeed may have made things even more confusing or proved why there is so much drama surrounding this word.

  1. Correction: something offered or substituted for a mistake or fault
  2. Correction: punishment intended to rehabilitate or improve

When I then did a search for “dog training/corrections” thousands of sites 804,000 to be exact popped up, and most (although I didn’t have time to search them all 😉  seemed to follow the “Punishment” mentality or definition whether they were pro or anti correction in dog training.

So it seems that this potential flogging at the mere mention of “corrections” in dog training is quite heated and spurned by the fact that in dog training, at least, corrections = punishment.

I may try to spawn a change in the definition and theory when it comes to our furry friends, as I agree with the positive reinforcement trainers that there is no real place in dog training for punishment but, dare I say it…there is room for correction.

Correction being defined as a change or substituting something for a mistake or a fault.

It’s funny, if I mentioned correcting a friend you wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that I back handed her when she made a mistake!  Why then do we have to view “corrections” in dog training in such a negative and harmful way?

Everyone makes mistakes; I don’t have enough time in my day to compile a list of the mistakes that I make.  By no means am I anywhere near perfect!  And sometimes I like someone to help me correct my problem behaviors.

The problem, or beauty of change, is sometimes we don’t know the steps that it will take to make effective change and therefore we need some help on making a correction to our own behavior.  This type of correction brings welcomed change.

Our dogs also make mistakes and to not acknowledge them or to help them make a change means by all accounts that we are accepting subpar behavior.

This type of behavior comes in all forms, sometimes it is a blatant behavior that a dog does not want to change (jumping on you) and sometimes it is an obscure

What is a "Perfect Sit" Mom?

behavior like a “perfect sit” and your dog just doesn’t understand what you want!

So WHEN is it Okay to use a “correction” in Dog Training?

Anytime your dog makes a mistake or does something wrong, you can make a correction to the behavior to get the behavior that you want as long as you reward the dog for the behavior you want!

For example, that jumping dog; I want to change the behavior of jumping so I correct the jump (by ignoring the dog, or giving him a time out, or denying him treats, or even plucking him off with a leash) and reward the dog for staying down on all fours!  This way he knows what I want!

I am working with my dogs and getting them ready to compete, so I am working toward infallible dog obedience training.  Each aspect of what we do and how fast we do it will be critiqued!  Did you know that points can be taken off for what the judge considers a slow sit?

And, I am not talking about a slllooow sit where you could tell the dog to sit a few more times before he actually does sit.  I am talking about taking points of for a few milliseconds as your dog processes the command and before his butt actually hits the ground!

During the beginning of training, the learning stage, obedience and the new behavior is not quick.  It takes time for your dog to understand what you want, and then execute the behavior which slows down the performance.

However, later in training and once my dog knows what I want and when I want it I need to “correct” the slowness of his sit or down once the command is issued if I expect to score high when we compete.

My dog will do ANYTHING for her Chuck It

So WHAT “correction” Should I Use?

Well, this totally depends on whatever dog I am working with at the time.  What is effective for one dog may be totally ineffective, excessive or even cruel for another dog in the same family!  You must know your dog accurately before you can use corrections to effectively change his behavior, whatever that behavior may be!

All of my dogs are totally different!  My oldest dog only needs to be ignored when he has made a mistake.  When he was young and if, say, he had shredded a toy or had gotten in the trash all I had to do was ignore him and not interact with him.  This detachment drove him crazy and he would struggle for my affections.  However, I recognize that most dogs are not this attached to the interaction of their human.

My year and a half old dog is “ball crazy” I could ignore her until “the cows came home” and not only would she not care…she probably wouldn’t even notice!  I could also yell, curse or chastise her (which I don’t) and she would also make no notice of me.  So when she makes a mistake or a poor choice all I have to do is deny her access to her ball which makes her want to work harder.  This also works for access to her treats.   So if she doesn’t sit fast enough, she doesn’t get her ball… the faster the sit the faster she has access to what she wants!

My 7 month old is very, very sensitive and therefore just the look of disappointment that crosses my face is enough to get him to stop any behavior he is showing.   The “stank eye” as I like to call it, could bring him to his knees.  Now this is good, because he wants to be good and doesn’t want to make a mistake, but it is also difficult to totally hide my emotions if   I  do something wrong and am disappointed in myself for my own mistake.  Yelling, cursing, or even raising my voice would be cruel and totally destroy his confidence!

BTW I don’t EVER yell, scream or curse at my dogs or anyone else for that matter, because I know that it is an ineffective way of training anything, and it destroys my credibility as a trainer and  I think as a “human”.  I only use it as an example, because I have seen people do it in the past.  A dog should respond to a whispered command or verbal “correction” if you are using it.

So all of my dogs are different and I have to gage how I train them by their personality.  I also gauge the “correction” on the behavior and how offensive I find it.

For instance, if any of my dogs puts his teeth on me (even by mistake) while we are training that would be the end of the session.  I would tell him NO at the moment it happened so that he knows which behavior it was that I found offensive.  And, I would very dramatically put his toys and treats away so that he knows this is NEVER acceptable!

A happy, successful dog is what its all about!

Using the word “correction” in dog training doesn’t have to be disconcerting and it doesn’t have to mean that barbaric or negative methods were used.  To correct a behavior should just mean to change it.  And, a person should use the smallest modification possible to get the wanted behavior.

There is no need to use loud voices or unnecessary punishment to get your dog to correct a problem behavior.  Simply denying him access to what he wants and TEACHING him what you desire is the most effective way to get your dog to do what you want him to do!

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  1. Apie De Klerk says:

    Hi there,
    We are currentlu in the process of training a three month old Jack Russel and I battle a bit to see what it realy wants to approach him correctly and teachhim accordingly I also do not believe in punishing a dog physically but I need to understand it’s needs for me to react.


  2. elizabeth mercer says:

    I have learned to use a firm tone rather than to yell I learned early on that yelling is not a good way to train a dog. And I have taught my dogs not to leave their toys on the stairs and when they take something out of the laundry basket all I have to do is pick it up and they know what they did.And I also have learned to put certain things at a safe distance so they cannot get at it.


  3. Patricia Burlison says:

    I enjoy your articles. Thank you; they have given me knowledge and ideas what to do with my dog. She is my best friend. When she does something she doesnt alway know it is wrong. Sll I have to dois look at she and say her name a certain way, she drops her head and looks at me with those big btown eyes. I just walk away, tat about kils her ( and m too) I would never ever in life raise a hand to a child not an animal.You can catch alot more flies with honey that with vinegar.


  4. les says:

    A correction can be anything but should not be aggressive. All the dogs that are put down each year through biting often because a trainer thinks its kinder to the dog than to submit him to a gentle tap, it to throw something to miss, I don’t agree with these methods until everything been tried but sometimes the correct reward for the individual dog can’t be found. Mine respond well to reward but I still pop the lead (its very gentle and they’re boxers) if the reward fails , it just gives enough pressure to say I’m here, and I don’t like that behaviour although it doesn’t work in the house, where I would usually tell them “out” and they would leave the room


  5. Rev. Dr. Ann Weld says:

    My mini Dashchund boy puppy was stolen and put in a breeding place which was horrible…enough said, I got him back, tracked him down, he loves me unconditionally as a pup he tore up everything. Someone trained him and he is perfect, except when he eats something that does not agree with him he throws up and poops on my wonderful old carpets from way back and are from Afganstan..how can I get him to let me know he is going to do this, I suspect he gets up during the night and does this, I bought a washable pee pad for the porch, and he does not understand what it for. Help.


    Lisa Reply:

    Our dog throws up occasionally when we feed it the expensive grocery store dog food. When we switched to expensive, allergetic dog food from the vets she NEVER threw up again. Vet said she has a food sensitivity and if we did not want to clean up throw up anymore never feed her anything but the allergetic dog food (not even treats or human food) we have found tho that dehydrated chicken treats are OK. The food is pricey but I really hate cleaning so its a trade off.


  6. There is nothing wrong with the word correction, especially when you want a positive result. It could be a reward word, “Good Correction” then a pat or treat. This way the pet knows that it did something incorrectly but if it improves he/she will reap the reward of CORRECTION. This word becomes a positive term and the pet has ownership in his behavior.


  7. Mary Boyce ~ Billie says:

    I believe in correction, and have always taken advantage of a puppies or dogs trust they place in me to attain this. No matter what age the dog when you get it, first you must win its trust with GIVING IT DEVOTED LOVE, and that is the only correction I use. With puppies its easier they tend to trust right from the start, but just give any dog time to work out that you’re never going to raise a hand to it, and the rest is done and achieved with PURE LOVE.

    Over 40 odd years I have had 7 dogs, and trained each one of them, without ever having to raise my voice, used different tones. When they are naughty, I tell them NO, with that longer disapproving tone, if that don’t work I literally turn my back on them and ignore them. Ignoring is the one thing no dog approves off. I then let things be, till the next time they are naughty and repeat the procedure again. Potty training I do again by taking the puppy out every hour or so and simply doing the rest on BIG PRAISES.

    All dogs are different natured different characters, but each will learn quite easily, the other thing I believe in firmly is that you must play which is communication with your dog, and I use quiet play and cuddles at times, other times when the dog is wanting to run around, I play ball and tag games. Basically I give my dog each day 20 minutes of playtime with just it and me, regardless of its age.

    Am I perfect? NO, I sit on the sofa with my dog, plenty of cuddles in my house for these wonderful animals, and yes I own up, my dog sleeps on the bed with me.


  8. Dave Simpson says:

    My dogs know the tone of voice and the filthy look so well. Tail down immediately! Also remove temptations like laundry baskets or other new items from within their reach. Dogs are curious and want to investigate anything that “Wasn’t there before”. Remember the reward to reinforce good behaviour!


  9. Melanie says:

    Prevention is better than cure so I, too, have loads of things moved out of my puppy’s way. I have taught him to sit and “leave” while I am doing something like wiping with a cloth. Instead of trying to grab it now he waits patiently then he is given a treat. He understands now that he gets rewarded for good behaviour. I don’t shout at him. If he gets hold of something he shouldn’t have, I say “give” and then when he lets go I again reward him with a treat. Sometimes I feel that I am bribing him, but at least he is getting that very valuable understanding of what he can do and what he can’t. He’s far from perfect, he’s only a puppy, but I am proud of him for being well behaved a lot of the time.


  10. Eileen says:

    The only correction my dog needs besides being ignored is a timeout, usually 5 seconds, seldom ever over 15 seconds. I only do that when she does something which I consider more than just a “mistake” like barking when I am preparing her dinner. Mistakes are more like failures to do something. My dog is also quite stubborn and I have to distinguish between an actual mistake and her being stubborn.


    Sami Reply:

    Dogs are like babies. Until you teach them the “RIGHT” behavior, they don’t know what to do at all! Animals don’t speak the verbal language we humans do, so they communicate telepathically. Then can read our moods. If you are angry about something your dog has done. He knows you are upset! Now, all you need to do is give him a “task” to make up for his mistake. Just point at his “Time Out” spot and say, “Time Out” and STAY! If he starts to get up, say, “NO… point at the Time-0ut place and say, “Time Out”. Be stern! Once he understands what you want, make sure he stays there for a while. A few seconds or minutes isn’t long enough to instill disapline. Barking inside the house is a big NO NO, at my house! The only time barking iside is acceptable, is when somebody is at my door, or walking around my windows. This is a security behavior and should be rewarded. But, once you see the person at the door is “OK”… “Quiet, Sit & Stay”, should be inforced. Now, when the barking starts, you say, (in a stern voice”, QUIET! Point to the time-out place and make him stay there for a little while. When he barks again, repeat this procedure. If bad behavior has been allowed to go on for a while, it may take a little time to break the habit. But, take the time it requires, AND… you and your dog will be happier for many many years to come! Good Luck…


    Reva Reply:


    what do you mean by time out? with a child time out is usually a few minutes in a chair. What does it mean with a dog?


    Lisa Reply:

    Depends on what our dog has/is gearing up to do. If she noses us in the hand or leg or gets too close we say off or touch her chest and don`t pet her until she is queitly sitting 3 inches away from us (if she tries to leave before getting calm we ask to sit again where she was). If she is too excited with visitors entering our house we send her to her bed and don`t allow her to come out unless she does so calmly and approaches them by sniffing their leg or foot, (we send her back to her bed if she starts nosing them). We also send her to her bed if she goes into the back hall and wines while we are getting ready to go with her. Then we take her out of her bed by the leash and only walk when she walks quietly and calmly to the door.


  11. Sami says:

    I started training my Yellow Lab (Delilah), at a very early age. I prefer “Hand Signals, Finger Snap and Pointing to where I want her to be”. I have 6 grand children and 3 of them are very small. I let Delilah sniff and say hello to the kids and then I snap my fingers and point to the floor and say, “Leave it”. She immediately lays down and just watches the babies at a distance. She is allowed to play with the kids, but NOT allowed to “Jump” on them. When this happens, I call her name, she looks at me and I snap fingers and point at her face. This is her signal to sit and stay. I have never yelled or hit any of my animals, EVER! When I’m gone from home and come back to find something torn up in the floor, or dragged out of the laundry room. All I have to do is say, “Who did this”? I say it with a VERY FIRM voice and immediately Delilah’s head drops, her tail goes down and she goes to her “time-out” spot and lays her head on her front feet. When she thinks she has stayed long enough, she will whine, turn her head to the side and look at me. I wave my hand toward myself (as if to say come here), and she comes to me, sits and looks at me as if to say, “I’m sorry Mommy”. 🙂

    If you are taking your dog into Social Environments, you don’t want to be yelling and being loudly verbal. It’s distracting to the other people, and sometimes very confussing to the dog, because of the “many voices” she/he is hearing. Less words, More hand signals, will make both your worlds a more pleasant place to be. I constantly have people coming up to me and commenting how well behaved and happy my dog is. She is even allowed to be around when I have a Formal Dinner Party at my home. I don’t lock her away, or make her stay outside. She has her own sofa, and when there are a lot of people here, she automatically goes to her sofa, and there she stays until I signal her to “come”.

    I never Ignore Delilah when she is bad… that just reinforces the “bad behavior” and can reinforce “separation anxiety”… Most of the time when a dog is “bad”, the reason is “for attention”. Dogs want to do the right thing, and when you teach them Good Behavior, they are soooo willing to please you. Love your best friend and TEACH THEM what you want them to do. Then YOU and YOUR DOG will be happier for it!


  12. Mary says:

    I am struggling…my husband yells at the dog…does not stop him from jumping or sniffing…I have spoken to him about this…I have a nippy bitey doggie…he is so cute…but that is no reason to let him continue the nipping…his mom and dad live next door…he sees them running loose…I do not allow this behavior…he can go loose for a few min at early morning still dark out…in back yard…he is basically a good puppy…butthe niping/biting has to stop…he cut my skin on Sunday…I won’t play with him now…I make him sit and then pet him…I walk him…as much as I can tolerate getting up in am…and at noon and evening…my husband walks him too…so he gets enough attention…I love petting him…but don’t like getting nipped…my neighbors come over and pet him he does same to them…do not like it…they let his mom and dad nip them…discusting…this is tough…don’t like nippy dogs…or jumpy ones…the mom bit her son our dog…she is mean…I try not to be outside when they are…


    Jeanne F. Glawson Reply:

    I am at my wits end with this nipping & biteing. One trainer told me to squirt her with water but to be quite frank its not working. I tried to put her in her crate but she still does it shes 7 months old and adorable but this is not adorable I feel like I;m losing control Jeanne


  13. Char says:

    My 6 mo. old pup Lucy reacts best to being ignored.She thinks she is the center of attention,so when I walk away fron her,and go into another room,she is quick to follow me around a little and after just a minute or so later,she usually gives up and goes and plays with her own toys.I tried timeouts and they just do not work with her.I agree that knowing your pet is the best way to communicate with them.


  14. Paul says:

    My corrections are firm but not harsh. I want my dogs to respect me but not fear me.


  15. Katy Throckmorton says:

    My first spouse was one to yell and curse at his family and as a result, our children became ‘deaf, unable to respond to anything under an angry roar. It took years to get them to settle down after we separated. My dogs are only four-legged children and they respond the same way, with individual nuances in their personalities. Bottom line is, the Rule is Golden. Dogs and children WANT to please. Our job is to let them know how and when to do that. If I wouldn’t like it, I won’t do it. My first thought is always, ‘how would I want someone to get this message over to ME?’


  16. Sheila Siegel says:

    So we have a 17 month old Australian Labradoodle who is great with obedience, does agility really well, walks off leash by me and loves everyone. His one little problem is that he sleeps in bed with us, and about every 4 months or so will pee in the bed. We are often right there with him and use a firm tone to correct him when we notice him doing it, but can’t figure out why he does it. He is definitely my dog so when he did it two nights ago when my husband was in bed before me I thought he was marking his territory, but he has done it when both of us are there. Any ideas?


  17. paul says:

    my dog understands my tone of voice and can tell when i am dissapointed with him for bad behaviour or when i want him to do something!


  18. Jill says:

    My son has a 9 mos old male Husky. He has bitten me when I have grabbed his collar. I need to know what to do to stop this behavior. My son is very alpha so this does not happen with him. Please Help!


    Lisa Reply:

    Never grap the collar when angry or when shouting, grab collar and give treat right away then let go regularly.


  19. Gilda Diniz says:

    I have a 6mo Weimaraner and I have to say he’s the smartest dog in the world. He suprise me everday. He loves attention so ignoring him works the best. He never can get enough of me rubbing his ribcage…..Thanks for all your advice. Love your site.


  20. Marsha says:

    My 5 year old lab still thinks she is a puppy. I give her a terrible look and tell her she’s naughty. When that happens she hangs her head in shame. She’s a pretty good family member and I have never spanked her nor would I. She knows when she is bad. She is rewarded constantly because she is so well behaved. When she takes a toy out and brings it back in I always pet her and tell her she’s a good girl. Works great


  21. Rosemary Howard says:

    I have a cute little one-eyed Peakanese, 2 1/2 years old. He is a good dog, and I don’t need to “punish ” often. When I do, he gets it fast. I just say “uh–uh” and his ears go back and he just sits there.
    I ignore him when he whines, while I fix a meal. So far that doesn’t work, so I am working on that!!


  22. Shirley Bockstruck says:

    y dog is stubborn and hyper-active, will try this., Never occurred to take away toys. Thank You


  23. diane goldman says:

    Our one ,year old golden retriever rescue has terrible separation anxiety. We can’t leave her for any time at all. We tried a crate, the laundry room, out on the porch. When we leave she cries, whimpers, slobbers to excess and chews molding, scratches the walls; What can we do to elevate her anxiety?


  24. Sheri says:

    This all sounds very reasonable, but what do you call a learning punishment when I come home and the kitchen garbage is all over the floor, or he has completely torn apart a favorite pillow? I hae 2 weimes, and one is just incorigable. I usually put him in his crate, but the other one just not the kind to tears things apart. I am open to any suggestions.

    ppulling my hair out!!!


  25. Bill says:

    It seems that all of these replies are from those who have worked with thier dogs from puppyhood. We have three dogs that are 5 to 10 years old
    and have issues that need correction i.e, need to be changed
    such as charging the door when the door bell chimes, grabbing treats when offered, jumping on people, How do you begin readjusting behavior with
    these older dogs? Bill


  26. dian davies says:

    My dog used to get frantic whenever a cyclist passed by probably because a cyclist nearly ran us down in a lane It took a while but every time I saw a cyclist coming I stooped down -hes a bijon havanese and petted him softly saying good boy repeatedly till the rider passed he also did the same when a vehicle passed us so I did the same thing Now I have no more problems I would never physically or mentally hurt Oliver than I would my children. I believe we should treat our animals just like our children. Repeat your requests over and over until it sinks in ignore the bad and reward the good Everyone who meets oliver always remarks on his friendly personality hes a real suck bless him


  27. Laurie says:

    My dog has just turned one. I had him since a pup, and I have found that any correction required changes as they grow. When he was very young I didn’t really use correction, except when he nipped. I just exclaimed “Ouch” and stopped playing with him for awhile. When he reach 4 – 6 months he started showing signs of “I want to be boss” attitude. So I had to use various corrections. Claiming ownership of his bones, ignoring him for being too rough in play for example. No one correction works in my mind, it depends on what he was doing, and what he wants the most at that time. Then one day I was really busy, and not feeling well and I yelled at him. The look in his eyes told me right there and then that I made a mistake. He looked soooooo hurt. I have never yelled since not even around him. As time goes by, and the more time we spend together the less correcting I need to do. Like you, he only has to see the look on my face to know he has made an error. I so agree that correction does not mean pain. I want my dog to do things for me because he enjoys it, not because he is afraid. I have already had people say “I want a dog like that”. Well, it takes patience, time, work and most of all a love for your dog’s well being and happiness. There’s nothing more precious than that look of adoration in your pets eyes.


    janel Reply:

    i wish everyone thought like you. Your awesome


  28. Jeroldine Edwards says:

    My dog is a bichon mix. He is 6 mon. old and like to bite when he is playing. He also likes to destroy anything he gets his little paws on. I would like to know how to break him of these habits. My husband is getting a little irritated with him and I do not want him yelling at him, but show him that it is not ok to tear up garbage bags. Please advise.


  29. nancy keenan says:

    have a 2 yr. old standard poodle. has always been prone to mouthing,have worked on it since day 1 but he still does it occ. have tried yelling ow, ignoring, saying no but the behaviour has not stopped completely. this behaviour is unacceptable. please help!! he is not a mean dog but worry he will hurt somebody.


    Margaret Foster Reply:

    I have 4 large dogs rangeing in age from 8 to years .They all have their KC Good Citizens Gold award . In the puppy class mouthing was always a problem with the dogs. .
    A big firm OUCH and a cry and the dog looked startled. 2 or 3 times and they didnt do it again. I have seen trainers tell owners whos OUCH didnt work to always have a water spray bottlr habdy. When mouthibg a squirt and a form No a few tomes should do the trick .If you really raise your voice. puppy thinks its a game
    The dog doesnt want to hurt its owner , especiallt “the habd that feeds him” so different methods for different dogs. You must be consistant in your “correction” of unwanted behavior.
    If these dont work I would say NO firmly and if no response of the above mentioned works afyer a while, you must take something away that the dog wants. That may be you so turn your back and leave the room
    Also your puppy may be teething , so distraction distraction and more distraction. A carrot if puppy is teething , something for the gums . A plastic bottle filled with ice.
    Keep at the ouch orwater vottle..it does pay off and remember to reward puppy when the unsesired behavior stops . This must be nipped in the bud as if left Puppy is soon an adult and thinks this behavior is acceptable
    Hope this helps


    Barbara Reply:

    I too have 2 2 year old standards. One WAS very mouthy. I turned my back on him and walked away. At the worst, I would completely stop what we were doing…if playing ball…the ball was put away for up to 15 minutes and he was ignored. It took a while, but he finally quite mouthing. I had bruises all up and down my forearms trying to play ball with him in the beginning. Now all I have to say is uh oh, if he even starts to mouth and he backs right off. The other thing I found helpful just recently is before throwing the ball for him, I make him sit. he wants to run in circles, jump at me, grab the ball, but by making him sit before I throw it our play time is much more calm and pleasant. Also if greeting people, he must sit or he doesn’t get petted…this also stops the mouthing in greetings. It’s amazing.
    Hope this helps.


    Lisa Reply:

    If your dog doesn`t like balls try the same technique with a tug toy, practice makes perfect.


  30. Steph says:

    I have an 8-month0old Golden Retriever. Whenever he does something wrong, I just say “uh-uh!” in an angry tone. He stops whatever he’s doing immediately.
    Though sometimes he just starts again after a few seconds. Then I just put him in his crate for a while.


  31. chris says:

    good article, I find myself correcting my dog in a lot of these methods, as a matter of fact I just realized when my dog used to bark in our training session, you know demanding me to do what she wants, well I started just ending the session after trying a couple times to see if she would listen to me and quite down and she wouldn’t so I would shut down the session. just realized reading this article my dog Chloe Boston terrier don’t bark like that any longer, wow, just realized it, it works, just simply take it away and they change. wow. good deal. I will pay more attention to correcting her on little stuff that makes me nuts. LOL


  32. nina says:

    I use treats to reward my dog and the shelter dogs residing in the shelter where I volunteer. People “make fun” of me to my face and behind my back because I do so. However, when I walk my 50+ pitbull, I get complements on how well behave my dog is. Also, most volunteers have said that the “unruly” shelter pitbulls are better behave with me. Lastly, when the dogs become too excited and bouncy (jumping up and down or darting here and there), I give them my “poker face”. So far, this dead pan look has worked, the dogs will stop and put all four on the ground or sit down fairly quickly.


  33. Darlene says:

    What correction should be used for not coming when called? Otherwise a very well trained terrier mix.


    Barbara Riche Reply:

    Chances are you terrier knows you want him/her to come, is just stubborn and won’t do it. I have a dog like that. So I call him and just wait. I call him once, stare him down and just wait. He finally comes to me. I reward. And you just keep doing it until he starts to respond more quickly. You probably think he isn’t listening or doesn’t know what you want…but I’m betting he’s just trying to train you to let him be stubborn.


    Julie Reply:

    Hi Darlene.
    The best thing to do is to train really well first, and this takes time. It’s also easy to get it wrong.
    It has to be worth the dog’s while to come when called, and to leave whatever more exciting thing they are currently doing to come to you. So you need to let them know you have the best treats, and they’ll get the best pats when they do come.
    Never ever scold/punish a dog who took too long to come when called, because they only learn that coming isn’t fun.
    One option is to turn your back when calling, and walk the way you want the dog to go. They hate being left behind, so that might work too.
    Hope that helps.


    Lisa Reply:

    Try practicing recalls with a 15 foot leash and lots of dog treats, praise and petting. If this doesn`t work when you are stationary, try running in the opposite way excitedly and slapping your leg and calling the dog then giving them a treat when they come.


  34. Toni says:

    10 month old doberman… came jumping and nipping at 6 weeks old and is still jumping and nipping… ignoring, walking away, removing toy, ending training session…has no effect… he will continue to jump and nip… believe me nipping doberman teeth on the coming down part of a jump hurts…
    in desparate need of help….


  35. renjith says:

    punishment required


  36. Kevinn says:

    I am not sure how to translate this punishment thing to my dog and one experience. Every one says ” take something away or talk in a firm voice but don’t scream”. I think that may work in a controled atomosphere when the dog is in the house or kennel or something but otherwise it is cannot work. For example, I was standing in my garage with my 18 month old Golden Retriver. All of a sunden she bolted like a world class sprinter out of the garage toward the road. I chased her down the 350 ft drive way toward the road yelling the dogs name and saying ” Come or no “. A soft but firm voice would not work here nor would taking something away work at this instant. What am I going to do walk back to the house and take away a chew toy from a og that is running a 1/4 mile down the road and is not there to see me pick up the chew toy? I was yelling no and come as loud as I could and running as fast as I could to catch up to her. She turned at the road and shot down the road out of sight and about 150 yards down the road shot into the woods after a cat, squirrel or what ever. I ran down there still yelling for her to come. This went on for 3+ minutes. I finally ambushed her and caught her as she ran out of the woods. She was not coming to my call, she was still on a mission I grabbed her collar and walked her back to the house yelling my displeasure loudly to her all the way back. At this point not yelling and talking soft but firm or taking something away is not an option. What y would you have done?????


  37. Denise says:

    I have a 6 mo. old choc.lab/pit mix. Great temperament but very high energy. She is crate trained and learned take/leave/drop it very quick, however, she has decided ‘keep away’ is a terrific game all of the sudden. Recently, out of frustration, when she would not come, I said ‘Ok fine, I’m going home’ and she came hauling buns right up to me and gave me the ball…Not my preferred choice, but it worked…


    Barbara Riche Reply:

    One of my dogs likes to play keep away too. So, if you don’t mind it…I play keep away too. But only with one toy and on my terms. I tell him what games to play with me and when. I let him ask me…but I don’t let him tell me when to play what if you know what I mean. So if he’s trying to play keep away with something other than his ball, I simply show no interest and don’t play. He quickly gets bored and goes on to something else.


  38. Cheryl Wilson says:

    We have a 4 year old Jack Russell Terrier. They are pretty headstrong and the best way I have of getting him back on the right track is to speak to him in a cheerful voice and when he is obedient, give him a small treat. We rescued him from the Humane Society and I am pretty sure the previous owners must have scolded him or perhaps even hit him because he cowers when he is spoken harshly to. I keep my tone of voice happy and upbeat and he mostly shapes up but when he doesn’t I get the bag of treats and wave it in the air and he’s very happy to comply knowing that there’s a treat in his future. Jack Russells are a very unique breed of dog and very intelligent and eager to please. We have that on our side.


  39. david says:

    My pit bull keeps digging under fence and taking off.how do I correct him he’s 4 years old


  40. Jeannine says:

    try rewarding the dog with treats everytime he doesn’t mouth you and when you do also use a clicker and click at the same time the dog is doing the good behavior. after the dog is doing the behavior 95% of the time, add a name to what ever you want to tell the dog. So you will be “naming it”(the good behavior), then click, reward the dog. then eventually the dog will know the behavior you want. But if your dog does not know the clicker reward system, you need to introduce them to it by having your dog look at you with out you calling their name. as soon as the dog looks at you, you would click and treat. the treats should be behind you so dog can’t see them. Once the dog get this down 9 out of 10 trials, then the next time the dog looks at you need to add their name, so when dog looks at you, you would say ” dogs name” click , and reward. I hope this helps. It has helped me train my dog a lot faster then most people and in a positive and fun way for your dog. My dog is only 11 months old and knows how to sit, down, come, heal, leave-it, go to your mat, and can do this things in a distracted area. He is waiting to be tested to be a therapy dog and is being trained to be a service dog for me.
    I used the clicker technique and was very happy with it.


  41. David McElwain says:

    Hi Chet
    Appreciate your website and ongoing information.
    My wife and I are Australians living in Singapore and recently lost our 14 year old Australian Kelpie to cancer. I’d had him since puppyhood so can’t remnember what he was like as a puppy, relying on anecdotes from friends, like when he chewed up ALL the interior of my classic BMW!
    We have now adopted an 18 month old bitzer here, he is lovely but has some majorly bad habits which I will describe….
    1. Loves to bite, not hard, but ongoing, when you play with him.
    2.Barks at most dogs as they walk past our gate, often in a quite ferocious way. There aree two dogs next door who bark as well, but not generally in such a nasty way.
    3.We have tried closing him in a back room when he continues to bark, which removes him from the problem but I am not sure if this will resolve anything for him ( although it’s better for us!) and we hold his snout shut and say ‘NO BITING ” when he insists on biting, this seems to work a bit but when he’s excited it seems to be forgotten.Furthermore, when we try to stop him barking anbd come between him and the other dogs he snarls at us. I am not afraid of him but my wife gets pretty concerned!!
    I have no idea as to what his background was prior to our getting him, but we would appreciate any assistance with trying to improve his behaviour.We are so used to having a well behaved dog that could be let off the lead and would love to be back in the same situation!
    Cheers / regards
    David & Michelle


    Sudhir Reply:

    Hi David,
    Majority of the dogs has this type of behaviour if not attended before they get habitual to this. Your 18 months old Bitzer might be from that type of background but will definately get improved. Only you need to take more efforts with extra patience. Try with below which has given me good response when I tried this with my buddle. When your puppy starts barking just try to divert him towards other attractions like things with he plays & play you with him for a while. But do not give him treat any more to divert him. Just make try to get him distracted from barking. Once he gets invloved in this joyful things, he slowly will get detached frm barking behaviour & will try humlelf finidng new things for him.
    This is my own experience with my 16 months old buddle.
    Keep trying. best luck.


  42. danielle says:

    relly good info my dog lucy knows when she had done something wrong or right because my voice change and when she has done something good i tell her good girl and play with her but when is not leasing to me i do not tell her anything and her head goes down and hertailshe is a assie and blue healer to smart but for the most part she is just a good girl and i love her and she does not like me to get upset


  43. Joan says:

    I have small fur kids, a tiny 6 yr old Yorkie, a 8 mo old regular size Yorkie puppy and a Malchi (???) 6.5 mos old puppy so correction becomes a necessity. I definitely reward good behavior with lots of praise and pats, but from time to time correction is necessary. I usually just say the puppies name and a firm NO and give “The Eye” or during training exercises a loud “hmft” and “The Eye” is all it takes to get them refocused on the exercise. Also, since I am dealing with puppies I will sometimes use the tips of my index and middle finger and give them a gentle but firm nudge on the shoulder accompanied by a firm “NO _________” and ‘The Eye”. (This is similar to the quick nip a mother canine gives the puppies to correct them.) They know what they did wrong and stop doing it immediately, looking to me for guidance on what I want them to do next. I always praise them for stopping and redirect them to appropriate behavior. None of my fur kids have any “hand” issues except maybe wanting lots of pats and belly rubs and not being shy about asking for them. LOL
    I am currently taking the 8 mos old Yorkie to beginner obedience classes and the trainer is impressed with the communication and bond that I have with my puppy.


  44. Donna says:

    Three months ago, we adopted a three month old morkie. He is just the smartest little guy I have ever seen. He is so easily trained that I am constantly looking for new things to teach him. He understands (?) NO! or if I. say ‘Freddi NO!’. He stops chewing, jumping up or whatever I am correcting him for. Sometimes clapping my hands and saying firmly NO! I have one issue that I am absolutely struggling with…housebreaking. I cannot count the times we go outside every day and night. I keep him confined to the room I am in so that I can keep an eye on him and watch for signs, . Most of the time, he makes it outside to pee…other times he will do it right in front of me and nothing I do or say will get him to halt. He just looks at me and continues. Pooping outside is a whole different thing. He will go out, pee and run around. I will sit with him (sometimes for an hour or two). I keep an eye on him so I can reward him for good potty habits. It never fails, he ‘holds it’ until we come back in the house and he poos in the house. I am about to lose my mind! He watches me clean up his messes, looking at the mess and then at me. I tell him NO! Bad puppy! Potty outside….among various other commands. I don’t yell, slap, rub his nose in it….nothing physical at all. How can a dog that is so smart with EVERYTHING ELSE, not get the concept of going potty outside? We even go out in the middle of the night! I have tried everything I can think of, trust me. I won’t use a crate because it will bring up a whole new set of problems, such as getting used to being in a crate. He has never been in one, even at the rescue shelter. HELP!


  45. PAULA SIPOTZ says:

    I have found that just teaching them what you like and don’t like works. Although with my new 6mo. old pit it is a little more difficult. patience is the key.taking time to raise them is key. they can’t raise themselves. lots of interaction and exercise makes for a great puppy.


  46. Mel says:

    I have a 12mth old German Shepherd, when he was about 7mths old he bolted after a dog crossed a football sized field and went straight out onto a road with a car coming. There is nothing worse then knowing the driver has seen your dog and has hit the brakes but physically can’t stop in time and your dog is heading straight for it completely oblivious to your calling him.
    Bollocks to “turn your back and walk the other way” or “wait for him to come back on his own and reward him” I was screaming my lungs out, everyone in a 5 mile radius heard me except for my dog. The driver swerved and Samba just managed to get around the car and kept going. He had never done anything like that before he always stayed quite close. I was paranoid for a long time and wouldn’t let him off the lead except in very controlled circumstances but he has a lot of energy and loves to stretch his legs and run so keeping on the lead made him worse whenever he got the chance he was outta there.
    I’ve now taught him to sit and wait until I say ‘óff you go’ when I take the lead off no matter what is going on around him and he’s learnt the long distance ‘sit’ so no matter how far away from me he is if I can see he is about to bolt I can make him sit instead.
    I did this by calling him once when he bolted then going and calmly catching him letting him know I am upset with him and walking briskly back to the spot he bolted from and making him wait even longer to go play. The longer it took to give me his attention rather than focusing on the distraction the longer he waited. In some circumstance I have taken him straight home and left him alone in the backyard for an hour or so. This worked great and I had started to trust him again but then he did it again, straight out towards the road and in my panic I yelled at him and he stopped this time.
    So here is my question – am I supposed to feel like a bad person because I used a harsh correction to save my dogs life?
    I think I would feel worse if I let him get hit by the car.


  47. darryl says:

    Hi How do I correct my 8 month old german shorthair pointer from piddling everywere with excitment whenever people come over especially with people she knows. She even does it in the car when friends say hi through the window.


    Minette Reply:

    Take her out before you have people over or people get into your car and read this article



  48. Jenny Haskins says:

    “Correction” is too often used as a euphemism to make the use of aversive stimuli acceptable to clients/students.

    I find it abhorrent.
    As a teacher you can mark/grade work which means crossing the mistakes and ticking the correct answers then counting them up to find the mark/score to be awarded. Useful for ranking. Not for much else. It is NOT correction.

    To me a ‘correction’ is rightly ‘showing the student the correct way’.
    You can correct a paper/work by indicating where a mistake was made and writing is either the ‘correct’ answer or give advice to the student of how to it would have been better answered. Or you can ‘correct’ a physical exercise by actually showing the student how the exercise should be done.

    So in dog training, “Correction should be going back a step and working from where the dog actually does perform as wanted.

    It is NOT teaching to only indicate ‘mistakes’ without letting the student actually learn the ‘right’ answer.

    Jenny H


    Minette Reply:

    I totally agree! I wish we could get away from the negative that is applied to the word and focus on meaning a need for change. Correction can equal learning and fun, yet I still find myself not liking to use the word 😉


  49. Jenny Haskins says:

    A simple way of telling if you are using a ‘correction’ or a ‘punishment’ is whether or not you could reword its description as “fix that” or “stop that”.


  50. Douglas Henning says:

    We have a 1 y/o Lab along with three other adult Labs. When ever we are gone from the howse for more than an hour he destroys something. We know when he has been distructive because he will not greet us at the door with the other dogs but instead retreats to hie kennel. He has toys and gets frequent bone and treats to chew on but the bahavior persists. I am worried that he will eventually get and chew on someting harmful to himself. He is able to reach most things on the kitchen cabinets. Help!!!


  51. Sabrina says:


    What can you do when you tried everything suggested on the web and books and nothing seems to work? My 6 months old started to bite my legs and feet while walking on the leash. It seems random. She can walk nice for a few minutes than boom, she grabs my legs in her paws and bites.

    First, I tried ignoring her, which made her bite more forcefully (and it hurts, even with hard shoes and jeans). If I tell her “no” firmly and ask her to sit, she starts jumping and biting at the leash, then she tugs on it, lately she started growling while doing this. It’s annoying, it hurts, ignoring isn’t working, verbal correction isn’t working, I tried to redirect her attention with food, it works until she gets the treat, and she’s impossible to calm down. Once, and I emphasize the “once”, I yanked on the leash and said “no” firmly. She stopped, but it made me feel bad.

    When she walks nicely, I say plenty of “good girl” and give treats… I don’t know what else to do. I’m covered in bruises, scratches and I really don’t enjoy our walks anymore. It’s really too bad.

    Any ideas? First, I need to understand why she does this. It doesn’t look like playing, more like “I wanted to sniff that tree and you prevented me to so there! here’s a bite”.


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