The Million Dollar Correction Question
What does it mean when you say, "I need to correct my dog when they..." ?
The word "correction" has such a negative implication to me that when I hear it used by an owner, I get a little....well, negative. So, I looked the word up in the dictionary.
the action or process of correcting something
• a change that rectifies an error or inaccuracy
• used to introduce an amended version of something one has just said
• punishment, esp. that of criminals in prison intended to rectify their behavior.
The last definition is the one that most people have in mind when they use this word to describe correcting their dog's behavior. The doing of physical harm to teach a dog what not to do.
But, looking at the origin of the word I find something that makes more sense:
ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin correctio(n-), from corrigere ‘make straight, bring into order’
I like the original intent of this word. There is no mention of physical punishment, merely the act of bringing order. This true definition fits so nicely with my training philosophy:
- Discover what need the unwanted behavior fills for the dog.
- Find a new way to fill that need.
- Figure out what you want the dog to do in it's place and teach them to do it on cue.
- Reward the new behavior with something the dog values, thus conditioning the new behavior to replace the old one.
- Bring order to the dog's behavior.
So, how do I respond to owners who want to know how to correct their dog's behavior? I ask them the million dollar question:
What would you like them to do instead?
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