I got some good questions on my last post:
Third, it allows for a correction if the dog disobeys. You are not correcting him for looking at the man, you are correcting him for not doing what you asked.
This sounds like it’s way too complex for dogs to…
Some interesting things I’d like to note here.
First, I’ve absolutely never seen a dog who truly knew a command 100%. So a correction for non-compliance due to ignoring of a 100% known cue is sort of a misnomer… dogs, as they say, are terrible generalizers. Knowing a command up, down, inside out and backwards on the field doesn’t mean jack doodle on a busy urban street if your dog has not been properly exposed and trained to that environment. You say your dog knows sit on a busy sidewalk… but does he know sit when a random cyclist zooms by? When a car backfires? When a lose dog charges him? Have those scenarios actually been trained for? The answer to that questions is usually “no”, therefore, its not fair to say the command is “100%” anything. There can be proofing involved, but in order to proof, the dog has to actually have a grasp of the situation you are asking him to preform in, and the simple truth is the vast majority of the time, all these people say “my dog knows this command”, DON’T actually have an animal that understand as well as they THINK they do, or as well as they think they should (important distinction, as so, so many people think dogs are magical and should just somehow know to do things despite never being taught them properly).
Its being stated that its better to correct a response than to remove the dog (already reacting) from the situation… personally, the correct answer here is “neither”. Neither correction or removal is the TRAINING response to such a situation… its the management response. Your dog reacts, you correct. Its easy to say you’ve delivered a cue and corrected the dog for non-compliance, but few people ever actually get that sequence correct, usually due to the high degree of emotions involved on both ends (with dogs and with handler). What seems very tight and functional in practice is, more often than not, very sloppy, and rarely truly fixes the issue in the way that one would hope an appropriate correction would. Very few people are, after all, Michael Ellis… ;) Likely what results is a dog who has stopped his behavior in THAT instance, maybe the handler has been able to regain control of the dog long enough to redirect him, but the behavior rarely completely diminishes at this point. Thus, it was managed in that moment, not trained away.
Same with removal. Removal isn’t training, its managing the situation. Though personally, I would rather remove the dog, as very rarely do I consider myself in a completely focused, training-savvy mode when my dog has just had a meltdown. Quite the opposite, actually, and in instances such as reactivity, EMOTIONS are what throws gasoline on the fire. Reaching a leveling point is what is desired, and walking away is, personally, the least emotional option. Correcting the dog in this instance actually has the potential to backfire (depending on the dog) as corrections in and of themselves can be very emotional. In protection, to get the dog RIGHT up on the helper and to make that bite sink like the Titanic, you get him as pissed as possible at that helper. This is often achieved by quick, successive collar or prong pops, which is agitating to the dog and thus increases his emotional response when finally getting to his target.
I can only speak to what I myself consider the appropriate response to all this, and for me that is digging past the surface of the reaction and figuring out what I need to change in the dog’s mind to eliminate the issue. I don’t care if I’m asking for a cue and the dog ignores it due to being over stimulated by something… to me, that is not grounds for correction in most instances. What it is grounds for, is figuring out WHY the dog was over stimulated, and fixing that problem first. Here, there are no band-aids in training, we do not fix surface issues, we fix the actual problem. Without changing the emotions behind what the dog is feeling, and thus what is creating the problem, I cannot consider an issue “fixed”. Perhaps cleverly trained around, something someone ultra clever like Ellis could surely accomplish, but that is not my end goal. A well trained dog means nothing to me if he is not comfortable with the things I am asking him to do.