Training Both ends of the leash

The Leash Correction

A SENSITIVE SUBJECT, “THE CORRECTION”, Especially The Leash Correction

The utilization of corrections in dog training is a sensitive subject amongst dog owners and the purely positive community of dog trainers.  It is my belief people avoid the use and discussion of corrections because it is misunderstood. When something isn’t thoroughly understood, it is easier to avoid it and view it as a negative approach.  It is more acceptable to say you are a purely positive dog trainer because it is easier to sell your training.  Most dog owners want to hear their dog is going to feel warm and fuzzy and get treats during his training process.


The real truth is consequences and corrections are a part of our daily lives.  Experiencing consequences for actions or behaviors is an excellent way of learning.  I know for myself when my actions result in a negative consequence, I frequently will say to myself “I won’t do that again”.  The purely positive defined dog trainers don’t discuss the fact treat training may lead to over-weight, food begging dogs, who will only fork for food. They become focused on the hand that feeds them instead of the human giving direction or commands.  When utilizing treats, transitioning away from the treats are essential.  This must be done at the appropriate time of the training process.  In my opinion, at this point in the training process, the correction or consequence is an integral part of the learning process.


Correction is a type of feedback for the dog.  Feedback is an important element in effective dog training.  It simply gives the dog information. This information, which is given to the dog throughout the learning process is the key to dog training.  Without giving the dog appropriately timed information, the dog may become confused and have difficulty understanding the task for which is being asked.   Feedback can be defined as something positive, for example verbal and physical praise, treats and play.  It can also be defined as a correction, such as a leash or verbal correction, low-level stimulation for a remote collar, withholding of a treat or something the dog desires.  Purely positive trainers resort mostly to withholding of treats or something the dog desires.  A balanced trainer will utilize all of the types of feedback available.  A balanced trainer approaches the dog as an individual, and is open-minded to all types of feedback.  Dog training is not a one size fits all approach. Some dogs require a soft, but fair approach; while others require a firm, but fair approach. This will establish an open line of communication with your dog.  This line of communication allows your dog to look to your for guidance.

Taking the time to watch dog behavior in a dog park is an awesome way to begin to understand “feedback” or communication with the pack.  For example if a dog gets too rough, the dog will quickly be put back in line, possibly by a nip or a loud growl of another dog.  All animal pack behavior follows rules.  In fact, the discipline of the pack or herd is a mechanism that promotes harmony, access to food, breeding rights, protection of the young and survival.  So, correcting your dog is not a new or foreign concept to their genetic component.


Dogs are happier and stable when they are living amongst a leader.  In a human-dog relationship, the human must be the leader.  If a dog is allowed to make his own decisions, live by his own rules and control his environment as he desires, this results in chaos and instability.  This is the main reason dogs find their final homes in shelters, are constantly rehomed and sadly euthanized.   These animals are forced into living a domesticated world, but never fairly integrated or taught how to live cohesively among humans.  It is a fact even wild dogs live by established rules and follow a pack leader.  The biggest responsibility of any dog owner is to be an effective and responsible leader. Learning how to develop an open line of communication, which provides a fair and structured feedback is crucial to develop an effective healthy relationship between you and your dog.


A professional trainer, who is balanced and skilled with a fair approach is a trainer who considers utilizing a correction at the appropriate time of the learning process.  The consideration of correcting a dog when the dog does not thoroughly understands what you are asking is unfair and detrimental to the learning process.  Dog owners who have not sought out the help of a professional trainer, nor have learned how to open a line of effective communication resort to ineffective and destructive methods of communicating with their dogs.  This poor communication leads to frustration, low confidence and a destructive bond between their dog and themselves.  Yelling repetitive words in a loud and an intimidating tone is counterproductive and meaningless.  The more the dog doesn’t respond, the more frustration develops between the owner and the dog.  This results in the loss of confidence and trust with their relationship.  This confidence and trust is an essential part of developing a life long bond.


The leash correction, if done properly, can be an effective way of giving feedback to your dog.  Before the utilization of the leash correction, trainers must teach the dog to understand leash pressure, and the meaning of the correction. You must teach the unwanted behavior before it is enforced! When you enforce the approach must be fair, effective and giving in a way the dog thoroughly understands it.  A correction is a consequence for unacceptable behavior.  This leash correction is giving guidance and information to the dog.

Understanding when and how to introduce a correction is crucial.  Implementing the wrong technique and wrong timing can be damaging to the learning process; as well as deteriorating the trusting relationship with your dog.  For example, giving a correction at a time when your dog is confused or fearful is damaging to the training process.  Also, rewarding a dog at a time when the dog is challenging you can also be just as damaging in the same training process.  Establishing fear in a training approach is a failure! Fear, if intense enough,  is the one emotion which will always override all training.


The correct technique is the fair approach for than individual dog.   As mentioned earlier, understanding your dog’s limitations, temperament, and personality is crucial.  Some dogs require and soft, but fair approach, where other dogs may require a firm, but fair approach.

There are numerous correction methods and techniques.  A leash correction is a quick “popping” action of the leash, followed by an immediate release.  A lot of trainers will argue this is “old school.”  I disagree, the older technique of “yank and crank” early in the training process is what I would describe as “old school”.  The new leash correction approach is incorporating the process of establishing the meaning of leash pressure.  This is a more time requiring, slower and sensitive approach.  This approach requires patience and time labored approach.   Teaching this leash pressure combined with positive reinforcement is the gentle and cohesive approach to effective dog training.

This action is typically performed with a training collar and a sensitive hand.  Frequently used training collars are the Prong (pinch collar) and slip collars.  Some skilled trainers utilize low-level stimulation with remote collars.  Seeking the advice and instruction from a trained and balanced professional is very important.


If a correction is done fairly and effectively, not only does it give your dog feedback and information, it can be used as a  to get your dog to refocus on you, and not the distractions around him in his environment.  If the dog is not focused on you, he can’t listen to you, if he can’t listen to you he can’t learn or process information you are giving or communicating to him. This is exactly why treat training fails, the dog learns to focus on the treat and reward, not the owner.   Dog owners fear they will somehow make the dog upset or harm their relationship with their dog.  This is actually the opposite of what happens.  Properly trained dogs, who learn to take guidance from their handlers/owners are well-adjusted, mannerly and less anxious and hyperactive in their surroundings.


I am not denying the use of treats can be beneficial in the training process.  It can be an extremely helpful additive to training in the early stages of young behavior for a dog.  It can be very helpful in relationship bonding to lay the ground work for more intense training.  But, it should never be the motivating factor to get your dog to listen to you.  Luring techniques with food is an awesome approach to developing your young dog.  Motivating a dog with energetic play can also be extremely beneficial in the training process.  However, along with treats and motivating play, comes the crucial step of introducing corrections an d consequences for unwanted behavior.

Teaching a dog not to run after prey whether it be human or animal is not done by holding a piece of cheese or hot dog in your hand.  It is accomplished by establishing a solid bond and relationship with very clear leadership roles and expectations.  The leader is you, the owner/handler! There should never be a negotiation between you and your dog.  If you find you are negotiating or struggling with your dog regarding behavior or actions, it is time to evaluate your dog’s position in your leadership!  Get the proper training for you and your dog by a qualified, diversified and balanced trainer.

A professional dog trainer is the key to success in establishing training on Both Ends Of The Leash. For help, contact us.

Thank you for reading!

Complete Control K9 Academy, Serving the Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Fredrick County and Southern Pennsylvania areas.