Today’s topic is: When firm corrections are needed. My first client of the new year has a dog that came out of a shelter. It’s having some aggression towards people walking by. Interestingly enough, he hasn’t really shown any aggression other than just some severe barking when I walk in the door. Today I decided that we would head out and actually work in the hallway of her apartment complex. We eventually ended up being outside.
There weren’t many people around the apartment complex like normal, so I decided to take the dog out. It was actually going quite well. Then, about midway through the session, another resident came out. The father of my client was actually handling the dog this time. This is when I saw some really nasty aggression.
At that moment, most people are pretty hesitant about correcting a dog for that kind of behavior. I’ve learned something over the years. If you place a well-timed but firm correction at that moment, it really tends to nip it in the bud. Not always, but usually.
Firm corrections are needed whenever you’ve been working with a dog diligently. Showing them what you want and where the rewards are. Also, showing them how a particular drill works. And if the dog decides to start going after somebody, I think the dog deserves a chance at being corrected. That way, you don’t have to keep Mickey Mousing around with this whole thing that they know how to do.
I do want to provide a couple of practical tips for anybody who’s dealing with this. And how to actually correct a dog and some good ways to deal with it.
The first thing to remember is that when your dog gets distracted by anything, especially if they have aggressive tendencies, don’t let yourself get distracted as well. I see it over and over again.
Tighten Your Leash
So the first practical tip is if your dog tends to be aggressive, I want you to tighten up on your leash. I want you to be kind of low on the leash. Essentially, I have a knot that’s maybe just 4-5 inches away from the dog’s neck. It’s just where there’s maybe about an inch or two of slack when my arm is fully extended. I’ve got that knot in my hand, and when I get a feeling that the dog is going to become aggressive, I just keep moving. As I begin to do that, the leash tends to take care of the problem because the dog will push up against it. I’m not going to stop moving, and I’m not going to be distracted from the direction I’m heading.
That is a really great way to deal with it. Another thing that I have people do is if you’re going to stop, you’ve got a demand to set, and that’s exactly what I did with the dog I mentioned earlier. When the dog started acting aggressively with my clients’ father towards the other person, I took the leash, then forcibly put the dog into a sit, and then I relaxed the leash and continued my conversation with the client and her father.
Roll Out A Correction
The dog subsequently chilled out. We went back outside after a small discussion, and we saw that things actually got much better. We ended up working on a drill, and the dog saw more people, and you know what? I didn’t see any more of that aggression. I just saw a dog that was still interested in barking at people but was now thinking about it. If your dog makes a poor choice after you’ve shown them the right thing to do, don’t be afraid to actually roll out a firm correction because sometimes they really are needed.