Method To The Madness of Correction

One of the most misunderstood areas of dog training by beginners,is how,why and when to administer "corrections" to their dog.
Some trainers and handlers choose to use newer methods for different dogs. One promotes strictly motivational methods to train dogs. Some people call this clicker training or marker training. The true purists in clicker training don’t feel corrections are ever needed.
I would have to disagree with those people. 99% of all dogs are going to need corrections to maintain consistency under distraction, in my opinion.
Determining when corrections are introduced, what type of corrections are used and how they are applied, results in how effective they will be in your training.
The wrong kind of correction,a poorly timed correction,even lack of correction results in inconsistent training and poor communications with your dog.

If you are around dogs long enough you will hear the term "FORCE TRAINING". This word can be misinterpreted and I have witnessed this type of training to work. But unfortunately sometimes it hurts the relationship with your dog.
To understand what force training is you should first know how to motivate a dog. There are 4 methods to motivate a dog to do what you want it to do:
1- using food rewards
2 -with toy rewards
3- with praise from his handler
4- Or you can motivate your dog to follow commands by forcing him to do what you want.
The problem is when owners don't understand the timing and application of force, their dogs become stressed and the compliance goes away.
Correcting a dog for refusing to comply with a command that it absolutely knows what the command means IS NOT forced training.
Asking a dog to perform a behavior that it has never been taught to do and then correcting that dog until it does perform that behavior IS forced training.
The only time to apply a correction in training your dog is after you have taught your dog the meaning of a command. When you are 110% sure your dog knows what you mean when you say SIT or DOWN, and the dog refuses to comply then the dog needs a correction for non-compliance.
Now the skill of training your dog is to know what kind of correction to apply,what level is correct to give,and finally do you offer a reward after the dog complies or do you just go on with training. This knowledge comes with a handlers consistent exposure and with experience.

Another often used method in dog training is called negative punishment. Negative punishment is used with trainers who use food rewards and toy rewards. It simply means when dogs make mistakes the trainer corrects the dog by witholding the reward. There is no physical correction. Withholding the reward is enough for many dogs. Withholding the reward becomes the negative punisher.
With repetition dogs learn to understand this concept. There is no anger involved. There is no threat involved. There is no change in your voice to signify a change in your attitude.Simply put, the reward is held for ransom.
An example is with pet dogs that jump up on their owner. When the owner has a reward in hand and the dog jumps on them, they simply say NO and wait until the dog backs off before giving the reward. If the reward has a high enough value to the dog it will not take long for the dog to learn that the only way to get the reward is to NOT jump up on it's owner.

Positive punishment means the dog gets a physical correction.
For some dogs negative punishment is not enough. These dogs need positive punishment.
This means the dog knows what he is suppose to do and he chooses not doing it, either as a result of lack of motivation or a lack of concentration in the face of of distractions.
This type of behaviour means there is something going on that the dog wants more than what it is you have. At this point the dog needs to get a correction and the correction needs to be more complex than just removing the something he wants.
This is where we add positive punishment. This means we add a correction after the word NO. Some trainers will use two words. One for negative punishment (withholding a reward) and a different word for positive punishment (adding a correction). The fact is over time every dog is going to figure this out.
It is critical that trainers not add positive punishment until the dog knows exactly what he is expected to be doing. To introduce positive punishment before the dog understands the meaning of a command simply reverts back to Forced Training.
The way positive punishment works is to say "NO" and split second later give a leash correction or in later training a correction with a remote collar.
Mature dogs are going to quickly figure out that when you say "NO" they need to immediately change their behavior and do what you want or if they don't you are going to correct them.
The dog is basically going to anticipate the correction and quickly change their behavior. In other words it is going to behave just as if you just gave him a leash correction. When you test your training and you see behavior changes immediately after you say "NO" that's when you don't need to give a correction every time you say "NO". All to often I see handlers saying NO,NO,NO!! and the dogs behavior doesn't change at all. Obviously what this handler is doing is not working. That dog doesn't respect the positive punisher. Either the correction was not strong enough or the correction did not follow the "NO" often enough for the dog to believe the correction was ever going to come.
The bottom line for positive punishment to work is the handler needs to do something to have the word "NO" mean something to the dog. Withholding a reward doesn't mean anything because the dog is distracted with whatever else is going on that they don't care about withholding the reward and the dog has not learned to respect the word NO.

The fact is we would much rather work with reward based training. Its more fun to do, the dogs like it and it's way more forgiving to a handlers mistakes, especially when the dogs are learning. If a handler makes a mistake when the dog is learning its not a big deal. They can get past it with a bunch more reps.
Handlers that make mistakes with positive punishers have dogs that slink around and act like their world just as soon not be there because they don't understand what just happened and they don't want it to happen again. As you start positive punishment your timing needs to be perfect. The handler/trainer needs to understand the importance of his or her timing because if you screw it up you are not going to fix it very quickly.
Handlers must also be very careful with distractions and punishers. The reason is that when its done poorly the dog will associate the distraction with a punisher. It's very easy for a handler to screw up and make a dog fearful of certain distractions.
What handlers need to think about is if a correction is warranted because they know the dog understands what's being asked but the handler finds himself having to correct the dog over and over again for the same thing, then something is wrong. Either the correction isn't hard enough, the dog didn't understand what was being asked or the distractions are to much for the dog. Or when they know the dog understands what they are asking them to do and the handler gives a correction for noncompliance and this becomes a pattern where the handler finds himself continuing to correct the dog for the same thing again and again and again - well the handler needs to step back an re-evaluate what they are doing because it's not working.

Just a little something to keep in mind this training season as you work to polish up your dog for home,testing or hunting. Remember to keep a positive attitude, stay in control and if tempers flare, walk away, re-evaluate and return with a confident, assertive attitude.
"Your dogs behavior is a direct reflection on your ability as a dog trainer."


Hessian's TV Appearance

I worked at Wasatch Wing and Clay this fall and winter. Picked up some guiding work with Hessian and boy was that fun! Met alot of great people and had a wonderful time working the dog for all to enjoy. It has been great being able to watch the dog work and I really enjoyed the reaction from the clients when they see what Hessian can do. Pure amazement at the obedience,skill, talent and pure drive of the DD. Always fun to watch! Wasatch has hosted a number of events this year. Pheasant derby's, tower hunts, clay tournaments. The funnest one for me was the 2 Shot Derby. Hessian and I guided a group of hunters while the hunt was taped for a local program, Hooked On Utah. It was one of the best times I had out there. I have been asked by many people that missed the show or want to see it again, how to view more. So, I have included a link to all the videos from that event. The club is only open for dog training and clay shooting now, but the season opens September 1st, so be sure to get out there! Enjoy your summer, don't let the dogs get lazy, and keep that trigger finger in shape!! Click here for Video footage

VJP Show and Tell

April 9th, we put together a "show and tell" for some new pup owners and handlers. A few will be testing next week and others had brand new pups, but came to check it out anyway. The weather was cold and snowbound, but all showed and the day was a success. We gathered at Wasatch Wing and Clay, ran through the details of test day, worked with each dog and handler on tracking, searching,pointing, cooperation, gunfire stability and tips for test day. Had a great lunch in a warm facility and all went home feeling a little better about VJP day. It was good exposure for dogs and handlers alike. When coming into the DD world it can be intimidating. We want our puppy owners to test, so we can watch the direction the breed is going, and get an idea of what dogs are producing what pups. It is also good for the new owners to get involved in testing as it will help them better understand thier dog along with the training and dedication it takes. Not only were these new members shown the breakdown of what a VJP test is, they learned training tips, got ideas and met and talked with other new members in the same shoes. It will help to take alot of pressure off come test day and make it a smoother transition into the testing system. We need to help out these new folks, they are interested and pleased with there DD's as much as we are, and we need to keep it that way. If we let new members slip through our fingers, that dog too will be lost. We will not know what that dog or owner could have contributed to the organization. Thanks to all who showed for this day and Zac, Chad, and Brian for helping it run so well. Enjoy some pictures of the fun, click here for original post and slideshow..

Just A Dog Gone Good Story

Had friend email this to me a while ago. Not Draht related but just plain dog related,Working at a dog day care,hunting and training and in dealing with people and dogs on a daily basis, I have noticed the bonds that are built and broken. Unfortunately we live in an imperfect world and life happens. Sometimes a situation occurs that we can not control. This story is about one of those types of situations, and how one dog owner changed the life of another..

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen.. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open.
Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.
But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new
life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk
to. And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The
shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they
said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like
"Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie
and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all
of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter
from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off
when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the
shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was
the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too
much alike.
For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls --- he wouldn't
go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all
of my other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn't really think he'd need
all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in.
But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.
I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like
"sit" and "stay" and "come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it. He never really seemed to listen when I called his name --- sure, he'd
look in my direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then
he'd just go back to doing whatever. When I'd ask again, you could
almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey. This just wasn't going
to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a
little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell. The
friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks to be up,
and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid
all of my unpacked stuff. I remembered leaving it on the stack of
boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that
the "damn dog probably hid it on me."
Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I also
found his pad and other toys from the shelter...I tossed the pad in
Reggie's direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most
enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home. But then I called,
"Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I'll give you a
treat." Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction --- maybe "glared"
is more accurate --- and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped
down .... with his back to me.
Well,that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the
shelter phone number.
But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten
about that, too. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud,
"let's see if your previous owner has any advice."

To Whoever Gets My Dog:
I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the
shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even
happy writing it. If you're reading this, it means I just got back
from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the
shelter. He knew something was different. I have packed up his pad
and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this
time... it's like he knew something was wrong. And something is
wrong...which is why I have to go to try to make it right.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond
with him and he with you.
he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to
get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't matter where you
throw them, he'll bound after it, so be careful - really don't do it
by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him
Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them again:
Reggie knows the obvious ones --- "sit," "stay," "come," "heel."
He knows hand signals: "back" to turn around and go back when
you put your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your
hand out right or left. "Shake" for shaking water off, and
"paw" for a high-five. He does "down" when he
feels like lying down --- I bet you could work on that with him some
more. He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobodies business.
I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at
six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He's up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9Th Street and update his info
with yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's
due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in
the car. I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet,
but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie
and me for his whole life He's gone everywhere with me, so please
include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the
backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around
people, and me most especially.
Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to
live with someone new. And that's why I need to share one more bit of
info with you....
His name's not Reggie.
I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the
shelter, I told them his name was Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get
used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just
couldn't bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it
seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as
me admitting that I'd never see him again. And if I end up coming
back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means every thing's
fine. But if someone else is reading it, well ... well it means that
his new owner should know his real name. It'll help you bond with
him. Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change in his demeanor if
he's been giving you problems.
His real name is "Tank".
Because that is what I drive.
Again,if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has
been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn't make
"Reggie" available for adoption until they received word
from my company commander. See, my parents are gone, I have no
siblings, no one I could've left Tank with ... and it was my only
real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq , that they make
one phone.. call the shelter ... in the "event" ... to tell
them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my colonel is a
dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd
do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on
his word.
Well,this letter is getting downright depressing, even though, frankly,
I'm just writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was writing
it for a wife and kids and family ... but still, Tank has been my
family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my
And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he
will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.
That unconditional love from a dog is what I take with me to Iraq as an
inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from
those who would do terrible things ... and to keep those terrible
people from coming over here. If I have to give up Tank in order to
do it, I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of
love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.
All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this
letter off at the shelter. I don't think I'll say another good-bye to
Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I'll peek in on
him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss
goodnight - every night - from me.


I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure I had
heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people
like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and post humorously
earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags
had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring
at the dog.
"Hey,Tank," I said quietly.

The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
"C'mere boy."
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months.
"Tank," I whispered.
His tail swished.
I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears
lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of
contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his
shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me."
Tank reached up and licked my cheek. "So what do ya say we play some ball?"
His ears perked again. "Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?"
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.