My dogs go down holes and face raccoon, fox, and groundhog. They get bit on occasion. How do I reward them? I let them do it again!
The same dogs that go down holes do not chase regular tree squirrels, or deer, rabbits, or other dogs when off-lead in the park. Why?
Because my dogs have been trained with an e-collar that is set at a level less than half of what I can begin to start to feel. And it works so well, that it's been months since I tapped a button at even a level that you and I cannot feel.
Dogs are not wilting orchids, and they can be trained with pretty mild corrective inputs.
What people fail to notice is that dogs get jabbed with vaccine shots, have spay-neuter surgeries, get stung by bees and wasps, and face countless thorns without a major meltdown.
My own dogs also face animal bites and barbed wire, and yet their enthusiasm for a hunt in the field is undimmed. You think Moxie has turned into a shrinking violet because she got bit in the face by a Copperhead? Think again!
Why do my dogs shrug off real pain but pay rapt attention when I give them a very mild "tap" on an e-collar?
The answer, of course, is consistency and communication. My dogs want to do what's right, and they understand that the "tap" on an e-collar is not just communication, it is also consistent, and can be made variable.
Repetition and consistency, combined with a good relationship, creates communication and education. Call it "dog training" if you prefer. The point is a simple one: it does not take serious correction to "proof" a dog that has learned a basic command -- it simply takes consistency.
And does it help if that consistency occurs off-leash as well as on, and from a distance of 100 feet as well as 3? It does.