Step Two: Applying the Correction
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.
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.
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.
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