Step Two: Applying the Correction

Overview

We now add the correction to training to teach the dog that there is a consequence for breaking the boundary rules. Adding this deterrent will help cement the boundary rules you taught the dog in Step One. Since you have already taught the dog to turn and retreat when they hear the warning beep, the dog should quickly learn how to turn off the correction by retreating from the boundary.  

After the first correction we will calibrate the correction strength so that it is strong enough to capture the dog’s attention but not so strong that it overwhelms the dog. It will be important when the dog is corrected that you exercise leadership and show the dog how to turn off the correction if they get flustered. You want to take care not to feed any fear in the dog by indulging nervous behavior.


Preliminaries

Setting the Correction Level

Reactivate the shock on your collar, either by adjusting the controls or removing any probe covers you added.  Set the correction level. For a small and sensitive dogs, start with the correction on the low setting, for a medium size dog start on the medium setting and for a large or high pain threshold dogs dog start on high.

The correction level required by each dog is different and we will just make an educated guess until we have observed the dog get their first correction and we can better gauge the right correction level. If in doubt about the initial correction level, guess high for hard headed dogs and guess low for timid dogs.

Some people set the correction very low, in an attempt to avoid hurting the dog, but the opposite is true. If you set the correction low the dog will learn that it is not too bad and try exploring past the boundary … they may end up on the street and they could really get hurt. Some people set the correction level very high in an attempt to “scare the dog straight,” but again this is counterproductive. If the correction level is too high the dog can get overwhelmed and not be receptive to learning. Instead we want a correction level just high enough to recapture the dog’s attention and refocus it on the dog fence.


Fitting the Collar

Place the collar on the dog, ensuring that the collar probes contact the dog’s skin.  Remember, if the contacts are not touching the dog’s skin, the dog will not receive the correction. For long hair dogs, this will often require you to move hair out of the way so that the contacts contact skin. If the hair is too thick, thin out the hair in the area of the contact using a pair of scissors. When you fasten the collar it should be tight enough to hold the contacts in place. A good rule of thumb is that you want the collar tight enough that you can insert two fingers between the collar and the dog, but no more. Some of the superior collars like the Innotek IUC-4100 and the IUC-5100 have collar check modes that allow you to determine if the collar is fitted properly. If your collar has this feature it is a good idea to use it. A collar being incorrectly fitted is the most common causes of a dog ignoring the correction.


Playtime Before & After Training

As before, we want to start each training session, begin with a few minutes of play with the dog. This is a good habit to get into before all dog training. A little bit of play before and after each training session keeps dogs eager to take part in training.


Training

As in Step One, you are going to put the dog on a long leash and take them about a yard from the boundary. As before you never want to lure the dog over the boundary, let them wander over by themselves. It may take a few minutes. When they cross and the beeping starts, wait till they receive their correction. This may take a second or so. You will know the dog got the correction because they will visible flinch or recoil. Then pull the dog back into the safe area saying “no, no, no.” When they retreat praise them.

If the dog gets the correction do not baby them. The dog got a static shock and it is no big deal, it was just like the static shock you sometime get on carpet (if you are in doubt try it on yourself – we have been shocked scores of times and it is no big deal, more surprising than hurtful). You are the dog’s leader, if you panic they will panic and they will not learn. If you act like it is not a big deal it will not be a big deal and they will learn that the shock was simply the consequence of crossing the boundary and that it can easily be avoided by staying back from the boundary.

If the dog doesn’t cross the boundary, reward them. Watch their body language. You will often see the dog heading toward the boundary, but then stop when it shifts it’s vision to the flags. You will often see a dog spontaneously turn their back to the flags. You want to reward this type of behavior with praise, a treat, or a quick game of fetch.

Repeat this activity three times a day for another week. Make sure your dog does not get shocked more than once a session. You do not want them to find this training an unpleasant experience. If they get shocked during the session, simply switch off the shock (or wrap the receiver contacts collar in masking tape) and continue on with the training.

When the dog is consistently demonstrating an awareness of the boundary and refusing to cross, it is time to start the next phase of training. In Step Three, we Test Compliance and see if the dog resists crossing even when excited and confronted with temptations on the other side of the fence.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My dog completely ignores the correction. Should I turn up the correction strength?

A: If during the training the dog has no reaction at all to the correction, the most common explanation is that the collar is not properly fitted. Even at the lowest settings, most dogs will at least react by turning their head or scratching at the collar as if stung by an insect. If they don’t react, it is probably because the collar probes are not actually touching the skin, and consequently the dog is not getting the correction. Check that any hair is moved out of the way and that the collar is tight enough that you can only insert two fingers between collar and the dog’s skin. You may want to thin out he hair of a long hair dog around the neck where the probes contact the skin to make establishing contact a little easier.

Wait until you see the dog’s reaction with the collar properly fitted before increasing the correction level. A complete non-reaction is very rarely because the correction level is too low.

Q: My dog reacts to the correction, but does not seem particularly bothered by it. Should I turn up the correction strength?

A: If the dog shows only a very mild reaction to the correction, for example not moving with urgency and just pausing to scratch at the collar we need to increase the correction level so that it better captures the dog’s attention.

Q: After the correction my dog became extremely fearful and ran back to the house. He will not go anywhere near the boundary?

A: Some dogs will be extremely sensitive to the correction and will become overly timid of the boundary. For these dogs we want to increase the level of reward for playing inside the boundary and decrease the correction level. So devote more of your training time to positive activities like playing in the safe zone. You can also start feeding the dog in the safe zone to help create more positive associations with that area.

If your dog had an overly fearful reaction check that you are not inadvertently nurturing this fear by babying the dog or acting timid during the training. Sometimes we accidentally nurture the fear in dogs ,rewarding and validating the fear by giving the dog lots of attention after the correction.

Q: My dog learned the boundary rules but stays too far away from the boundary. How do I get them comfortable using the entire yard?

Many dogs will stay 10+ feet back from the flags after getting the correction. This is a normal part of learning the boundary line, at first they will be very cautious. Over time they will become more adventurous and get closer to the boundary. You can help this along by leading them on the leash into the safe zone and playing with them in this area. But, you do not need to do this. The dogs will naturally get closer and closer to the flags as they get familiar with the system over the coming months.

Next: Step Three (Testing Compliance)


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca August 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm

My dog, a border collie terrier mix, is almost done with week one. My husband got a little ahead of himself and let her feel the correction right off the bat so naturally our first day was really rough… she would only go into the yard a few feet away from the door. She’s gotten a lot more comfortable since then but still doesn’t get close to the flags (she’s usually about 5 ft away) unless she’s playing hard enough to forget about them and as soon as she hears the beep she high tails it back to her “safe zone” (her safe zone has moved a few times by us congregating in new areas so she realizes she has quite a bit of safe space to be in) Since the beep seems to be enough to get her to run back into the yard should I still move onto step 2 or give her a little more time to get comfortable with how much area she has to roam?

ADMIN – Hi Rebecca, I would continue like you are doing. Continue to allow them to wear the collar while spending time exploring the yard to learn that it is okay to do so. After they have enough time doing this, which may take several days to a couple of weeks, then you can begin training. When you start back, go ahead and move into step 2 and 3. You will need to create incentives for your dog to want to try and leave.

Heather December 18, 2013 at 8:45 am

Hi, Our 52 lb, 12 year old pit mix had a great first week of training. She reacts well to cues from us. However, while starting our training using static correction, we’ve hit a snag. She’ll cross the boundary when there is a temptation (mostly a family member standing on the other side), receive the shock, and then freeze. She definitely feels it (she yelps), but she does not retreat back to the safe zone. Any tips on how to remedy this? Thank you-your videos have been extremely helpful!

ADMIN – Hi Heather, We utilize a long leash through the entire training process. When your dog receives the correction, quickly run in the opposite direction, assertively pulling them with you as you give the command. You will want to continue this until they begin to retreat on their own initiative.

Quyanna July 18, 2013 at 12:43 am

We have been training our 8 month st bernard Shepard mix boy and after two days of introducing him to the fence he had learned not to cross the line. So we decided to let him have free run of the yard. Then, when we were all across the street at the neighbors yard, he ran right through the line without getting shocked. We thought his fur was too thick and the collar wasn’t reaching the skin so we shaved the fur away. It still didn’t work and he kept escaping. I still continued training but during sessions, he wouldn’t even get close to the fence. The collar also seems to twist around his neck a lot so maybe it is still not touching skin. I’m not sure how to keep training because we really like having him have free rein of the yard but when he escapes he doesn’t come back until we manage to capture him to take him back home. I admit that we might not have trained him as we’ll as we should have because we thought he understood how the fence worked. He has escaped a total of 5 times. When we are there, he hasn’t escaped at all, it is only when we are on the other side of the line that he has escaped. How do we start over? On which step?

ADMIN – Hi Quynanna,

I would make sure the dog is secure while we retrain him. It seems like he is now routinely going out (when you are not around), and we want to stop that as soon as possible to stop it becoming a habit at which stage it will become much harder to fix.

Like you said, I think the problem is that we just went through the training too quickly. I would back up and start at stage two, and do the full two weeks training (including the testing and the gradual introduction to off-leash). It seems like he is getting the general idea – there just isn’t a lot of consistency.

Steve January 15, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I purchased the PetSafe UltraSmart Inground Fence PIG00-13619. I’m on a little over 2 acres and currently my terrier is jumping over the 5+ft fence. I’d like to mount the wire towards the top of the fence so he can still roam the fence line and only get “corrected” when he tries to jump since it takes him three or four attempts before he is able to get a hold of something and pull himself over. How would I train him on this since he wouldn’t get the warning until he starts his jumping? I know I’ll still have to train him at the various gates since I’ll have to put the wire in the ground there and he will be in the zone where the wire descends down and then back up.

ADMIN – Hi Steve, when you combine a dog fence with a natural fence your success rate if very high. What you’ll want to do is set the flags near the fence and teach him not to cross the flags as the training instructs. With the jumping, the best way he’ll learn is by jumping. The natural fence is a barrier that will slow him down enough for him to receive the correction and cause him to stop jumping.

Maggie December 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

We introduced our dog to the lowest correction level yesterday and she completely freaked out, jumped about 3 feet into the air, yelped really loud etc. This happened about 3-4 times yesterday when she got was shocked at the boundaries. Of course we are going to go back to only the phase 1 tone training for a while till she has a better grasp of that, but I’m wondering if there’s a way to lower the shock level any, below level 1–such as setting the prongs on her fur instead of on her skin? I think the lowest level is just too much for her. Do you have any suggestions?

ADMIN – Hi Maggie, we can send you a set of resistors that you attach to your collar and it will decrease the correction by 50% or 75% depending which resistor you use. Let us know and we’d happy to send those out.

Tim September 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I’ve been training our 9 month old lab mix for three days now and i am having a problem. Day one he did great walking to the flags and turning back to me when he heard the warning beeps. Day 2 the instructions advised to remove the contact point training covers and follow the same instructions as day 1. Well, he got the correction (on the lowest setting) and he tucked his tail and pulled me to the house. It took awhile but I got him back outside but he wouldn’t go anywhere near the flags. I have been able to get him to the correction zone only a couple times since and once he hears the beeps he tucks his tail and wants to go back inside. I am glad that he understands the warning but I am afraid he will not learn the containment area if he is scared to go to the flags.

ADMIN – Hi Tim, this is quite normal. I would advise putting the yellow caps back onto the probes until he is more relaxed. When moving back to step 2 with correction, make sure to only allow your dog to receive no more than one correction per training session. Over time, he’ll relax and be confidently and safely contained.

Julie July 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I have been training my sheltie pup for two weeks now (he is 6 months tomorrow and since we had been doing very well with the beeping training I decided he was at the correction stage). My pup is very reluctant to get near the boundary and since you highly recommended him feeling the correction before being set loose. He seems to know the boundary rules, but our horses live across the boundary and he loves them! I had my mom watch over the dog while I got the horses stirred up and running around a bit so the dog would be interested in chasing and possibly going over the boundary. My mom dropped the rope attached to the dog when he ran and he went all the way across the boundary, received the shock and came to me on the “outside” with his tail wagging. I promptly walked him back through the shock zone to the safe zone and played there. I don’t know what to do now because he obviously did not know to stop and turn when he got the correction… Should I just treat it as a non-event/no-big-deal and continue trying to entice him to cross and then have him turn and retreat into the safe zone?

ADMIN – Hi Julie, In step 2, which you began with your horses, your dog remains on leash with the correction turned on. When you create the enticement, let your sheltie walk into the boundary, receive the correction, and then turn and retreat giving the “No, No, No,” command. Only when your sheltie begins to obey the rules even when excited or enticed do you want begin to let go of the leash.

Jay February 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I have the stubborn dog petsafe, My 110# Rottweiler knows the boundary lines and pays attention to the beeping and vibration and retreats well. my problem is when another dog walks by, he runs right through the barrier and crosses the wire getting corrected at level 5,(only one that will phase him) and doesnt stop! He will even cross back through it. He has done this twice! The boundary width is set to 14ft. What am i to do?

ADMIN – Hi Jay,

Check his reaction when he goes through. If he does not react when crossing, likely the collar probes aren’t properly contacting the dog’s skin and they aren’t getting the correction at all. That he is willing to come back hints to me he is probably not getting the correction. Also the Level 5 correction on the stubborn is very high, even a Rottweiler should be phased by it. It is also possible that the collar is not correcting properly, you can test this using the tester tool that came with the system.

If the dog is indeed getting the correction, then we would usually make the boundary wider (but your boundary is already plenty wide), turn up the correction strength (yours is already on max … you could add a second collar), and do some remedial training. When doing the training, focus on Step Three and using the triggers that are the dog’s problem spots, in your case borrow a neighbors dog and have someone walk it past as bait.

My money is on the problem being the probes not contacting skin. You should get a big reaction, even out of a tough dog like a Rottweiler.

Linda September 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

Do the prongs on the collar have to be on the dogs throat? Can they be placed on the back of the neck or sides?

ADMIN – Hi Linda,

The probes can touch the dog anywhere, such as the side of the neck or the back of the neck. But, you want to be sure that the probes are contacting the skin and are held firmly in place.

Sue July 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I have a correction collar from about 10 years ago. I have lost the manual. I recently got a new puppy (6-8 month old) and I would like to train her on the fence. How do I regulate the intensity of the shock?

Admin- Hi Sue,

I would start the correction level out on the low setting. See how your new puppy reacts to the corrections, then you can adjust the level up based on the dogs needs going forward with training.

Mark January 16, 2011 at 6:55 am

I have a underground containment fitted at the boundary of the yard. The boundary consists of a combination of 4 ft walls wire fencing and an evergreen hedge. My question is with the yard closed do I still have to follow the same training scheme as for an open yard? The problem is in a lot of cases I stand a yard away from the flags and the dog looks at me as if to say do you want me to walk into the boundary? Even though with effort he can clear the boundary at certain places and he can push his way through the hedge. There is a defined boundary and I can only entice him up to it. I have finished stage 1 and have moved on to stage 2. Is it best to continue or can I let him off the lead a bit more?

ADMIN – Hi Mark,

As you say, where the boundary line is set along an existing physical boundary, the dog will often not naturally go right up to the physical boundary. You do however want them to hear the beep at least a dozen times and to get the correction at least a two or three times so that they know that they are supposed to “turn and retreat”.

You want to set the fence up so the correction starts at least a couple of feet away from the base of the fence to help with the training for this reason. You can reduce the boundary width later, but for the initial training you need at least 2-3 feet of boundary zone to work with.

You can also use some sort of bait to encourage them to get closer to the fence. Food, or laying down a scent near the fence works. Also having a neighbor walking their dog along the fence is another good form of bait.

PS – I would always be careful never to lead the dog into the boundary (you don’t ever want to lose his respect and trust as leader).

Mark January 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

Hi, I feel this is my problem also. I have the stubborn dog petsafe product and have an area of hard standing where I cannot fix flags. The yellow wire is visible and my dog, an energetic black labrador male. On the lowest setting the dog received a correction on three occasions. He yelped and ran round in circles pulling on his lead in to the correction area. It did cause me concern and now I am a little jumpy when the collar is on level 2. I have reverted back to level 1 to encourage my dog to retreat when he hears the beep. Problem is when it beeps it is so quiet that i sometimes do not hear it and the dog may get the wrong message. My question is. The Petsafe manual says the awareness training (beeps and vibration only) should last one day. I am in to my third day after reverting from the correction phase back to the awareness phase. I feel a little cowardly to put my dog through this discomfort and have asked myself if the lowest corrective level is low enough. I have to say I was driven to buy this model because of its lack of commitment to specialist batteries and the ability to turn up the correction if the dog was unresponsive but do you think that the dogs behavior is what is expected? How should I proceed? P.S. Keep up the great work your site is fantastic and so informative. I have recommended it to all my friends.

ADMIN – Hi Mark,

We do the training a little differently to most of the manufacturers. In my experience doing the awareness training (what we call Step One), where the dog hears the beep but does not get the correction, for a week (instead of 1-3 days as per the manufacturers), makes for a lot easier training. It means that by the time you get to the correction part of the training, the dog knows exactly what to do to stop the correction. When you go into correction too soon, the dog has no idea what they are supposed to do and is not in a good state of mind to learn. Both methods work, I think the manufacturers method is a little faster, and our method is a little easier on the dogs and owners. Either way, stick with the training and in two weeks you should be done.

Where the flags are hard to stand up (e.g. driveways), I will usually just lay them on the ground. The dogs are smart enough to figure it out even without flags – but anything you can do to differentiate the area is helpful. If you are unusually diligent you can either get the better metal masted flags at a hardware store, or stick the flags in an old plastic flowerpot. You can also use some other visual marker like spraypainted dots, a scent trail also works well.

The lowest level on the PetSafe Stubborn is fine for a lab. If you are really concerned you can try it on yourself – it definately stings but is not a big deal. It is not half as bad as a cattle or horse fence. If you are still concerned, you can further reduce the correction level using a resistor across the prongs. (We are happy to send them out to our customers at no extra charge, just give us a call or shoot us an email). I would not reduce the correction level any further, if you spend a little longer on step one (the awareness training) the dog should only get a handful of correction and it is a little rattling.

As to the training, when the dog gets corrected, you want to pull the lead and yank them back into the save zone. That will teach them the way to escape the correction is to “turn and retreat.” A little yelping is normal, and being timid toward the boundary is normal (and desirable). Most dogs will over-react and not go within 10 yard of the boundary, but this timidness will diminish over time and with more experience with the system. It is really important that you project confidence in the safe zone, and don’t console the dog when they get corrected – it just communicates to the dog that there is reason to be fearful.

Debra October 13, 2010 at 12:03 am

Thanks for this info. I tried today for the first time and had it set medium for a 55 pound dog. The beeping started and I called her back, but then it shocked her inside the boundry it seemed. Scared her and me. I then set it on the low setting as per the manual and I don’t think she felt it at all. Gave up for the day and will try again tomorrow.

ADMIN – Hi Debra,

One little tip, when the dog is scared you need to be super confident. When you act scared it tends to amplify the dog’s feat. Your body language should announce to the dog that they will be safe if they do what you say and retreat away from the flags. When you are fearful it announces to the dog that there is a reason to be scared.

Diana March 20, 2010 at 9:52 pm

We purchased the SportDog system a few weeks ago from you all and put over 6,000 ft of wire down to encompass 45+ acres. Our dog was incredibly sensitive immediately to the lowest setting on the collar – just beeping. He appeared to catch on to the flags and the wire itself as it is just laid on top of the ground mostly through wooded areas. From the first day of training to the present when he can see the flags he stops 10-30 feet from the fence and refuses to move toward it. As we have a large space and a lot of fence to train him on we were able to train him in new areas with the leash pulling back when he heard the beeping, but once we had encountered that area he remembers and refuses to go near it again.

So our problem with the second phase of training is that we can not get him near the fence to experience the shock correction ( I now have the collar on setting 3) Today we skipped a little into the third phase by bringing over a friend with a puppy to offer an enthusiastic distraction, even throwing sticks over the fence thinking the competition would get to him. No he is stoic at a safe distance. Our dog is a hound so I suspect that he can smell the plastic of the flags and perhaps even the wire – if this is possible. Because he is a hound his scent tracking instinct and thrill of the chase is what we are trying to interrupt and I understand why he needs to feel the correction and train his response so he does not run through the fence.

How will we get him to feel the correction?

ADMIN – Hi Diana,

That is a good problem to have! It is not uncommon that after week one, the dog gets the message and does not want to cross the fence despite never having got the correction. It is most common in dogs that have had another type of correction collar. I do like the dog to get the correction at least once in a controlled setting to make sure that have that right instinct of turning and retreating when they get the correction.

You have the right idea in using various temptations to get them to consider crossing, and of course you want them to cross of their own will (and not lead them across). Usually what works best is to get the dogs super excited so they are no longer paying attention. For some dogs this is a game with a ball, or playing with a neighbor’s dog. For scent motivated dogs, I may lay down a scent trail leading to some smelly raw chicken (i.e. well thawed out and not frozen) or if there is a dead animal carcass, that works great.

Very worst case, and after a week of trying I can’t get them into the correction field. Then I will get someone else to lead the dog into the correction field (not the dog’s owners). If the dog strongly resists even that, I will let it go … even if they have not got a correction if they still will not go through even when led through that tells me they are rock solid trained.

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