Discipline is defined in the dictionary in many ways. I like to think of it as a form of teaching or a branch of knowledge. This means that if a person has motivation, he will become self-disciplined by virtue or the things he’s learning. This phenomenon is internal. A conductor does not control a musician; it’s his passion for the music. The musician has control over himself, just as a football player, artist or anybody is dedicated to their field.
If a martial arts student refuses to show the right attitude towards training, the sensei will ignore him. If a student exhibits dedication and spirit, the sensei will work with him. No matter what the art form is, discipline is the teacher’s responsibility to be knowledgeable of the subject and to be capable of teaching rather than forcing something on a student.
This is very evident in dog training because unlike a human’s, the dog’s motivation to learn makes him depend completely on his trainer. In order to motivate dogs, we have to know how they learn, how they perceive, and how they feel. The dog owner has to have enough discipline to refrain from lashing out in anger or experiencing feelings of discouragement and powerlessness. Problems always need to be handled from the point of view of the dog. If you ask how much discipline your puppy or dog needs, it is a moot question. Discipline isn’t like a drug that you give in dosages.
A dog is disciplined by instinct and needs nothing more. Another definition of discipline that relates to dog training is that it is a method to attain obedience or a punishment used for correction or training. There are times when you need to use this view, but we should keep the initial definition in mind and use it as the foundation of dog training.
As an avid dog lover and trainer, I have to sometimes correct a very nervous dog. The ideal way to do this is to use the lead and collar in a context of training, so that he relates correction with me. I’m able to calm him by appearing confrontational. The purpose of this is for the dog to associate the shock with me so that the nervous system becomes dampened. After that I go ahead and put him on track to cheerful motivation and drive depending on his temperament.
Emphasis has to be placed on the fact that many dogs that we think of as hyper are like that only because they were trained through denial and confrontation. Also their prey instinct may have been allowed to seek gratification at a level of its own, away from his owner. If domination has to be used, the dog should be redirected immediately into an instinctive, positive path to success.