Basic principles of leash correction
There is an art to communicating with any dog. If you were to watch two highly proficient search and rescue handlers, for example, I would bet you would detect differences in the ways they communicate with their dogs. Yet, both of their dogs may handle beautifully because both handlers understand basic dog psychology.
The nature of the correction should vary with the age of the dog. You do not want your dog to cower at the sound of your voice because it fears receiving a correction. On the other hand, if your dog does not respond the first time you give a command, a stiffer correction is needed.
Stiff corrections that get your dog's attention are a necessary part of communicating with your dog. Your command should not be a request. Your voice should be confident and even-toned, not angry. If you find yourself repeating commands without success, you are "nagging" your dog; your dog has already learned that there is no consequence to ignoring your command.
Make sure the dog knows WHY it is being corrected. It is essential that you apply the correction IMMEDIATELY after the behavior you are trying to modify (break). Corrections applied even minutes after the behavior do not work. So, if you are physically not in a position to reinforce a command should your dog not immediately obey, don't give the command.
Example 1: You come home to find your favorite rose bush dug up. You call your dog, it comes to you, and you apply a correction. In the dog’s mind it is being corrected for coming to you.
Example 2: Because your dog is a protector, he barks when strangers approach the house. The UPS delivery man approaches the house when you are in the kitchen 200 feet away from the dog and the front door, so you yell "no bark" and turn off the stove and coffee pot. The dog continues to bark, you continue to yell "no bark" and your dog learns it need not pay attention to the "no bark" command.
There is no optimal amount of force to be used when applying a correction. Know your dog. Just as each breed of dog is different, dogs within each breed have individual personalities. As a result, different dogs will respond differently to the type of correction and the force used to deliver the correction. Your dog's body language will tell you as much as if it could speak. A correction should never be applied with the intention of causing pain, yet it is important to apply sufficient negative stimulus that the dog will choose to modify its behavior in the future. Being too permissive with your dog can be deadly for your dog. If you cannot consistently recall your dog by calling one time, it is not safe for your dog to be off its leash.
Motivating your dog
We use praise as the motivator for our dogs. We do not believe that shock collars, an angry voice, or even food rewards are necessary to any training routine. Training your dog with food as a reward is not always going to be convenient in the field. You might also enjoy our tips on how to encourage your puppy's play drive.