My Dog Training Methodology
All breeds dog training methodology.
Wrap your head around this very simple rule of behaviour. It is the rule of Action->Memory->Desire, and goes like this:
An action which brings about the condition for some favourable memory will most likely increase the desire to repeat the action in the future. While at the same time, an action which brings about the condition for some unfavourable memory will most likely decrease the desire to repeat the action in the future.
You don’t need an advanced degree in the behavioural sciences to effectively apply this Method of Dog Training. All you need to understand is that good things usually follow good behaviour. “Good behaviour” being as we define it through the training process.
Use of Contrast and the Right of Choice
Dogs generally move from a state of discomfort toward a state of comfort. You can see an example of this by watching a dog out in the mid-day sun, or out in the rain. When the elements become more uncomfortable than whatever the motivating interest is occupying the dog, the dog will usually choose to abandon the activity in favour of seeking cover in order to make itself more comfortable.
The dog’s primal need to move himself from a state of discomfort to one of comfort is hard wired; making it a very powerful motivational factor in our training. And, in my opinion, it is even more powerful than his seeking food.
Why? Because a dog with a full belly no longer seeks food, but an uncomfortable dog will almost always choose to seek comfort.
In order to allow the dog to discover the self-empowerment that right of choice implies we will be using a 5 metre long line and collar, each of proper construction, in conjunction with the absence of any verbal commands.
I will describe in detail, just how this happens; so there is no need for me to recount it here.
However, I would like to clear up a common misconception that teaching the dog to pay close attention to the handler is the same as the ‘watch-me’ game used by many of today’s new-age trainers. It is not. In fact, the two have very different goals.
The teaching of ‘watch-me’ will generally have the owner rewarding the dog for looking at his face or at his eyes. That’s all well and good, IF that’s your goal. But it is not the goal of the foundation long line work.
The goal of this method of long line work is far more comprehensive than it may appear to the first time user. But to examine that fully one needs to have actual experience with its effect; something you won’t fully appreciate until the enf of the course Hence “foundation”. For now, what is important for the first time user to understand is that the long line work, as instructed, is paramount to the successful end result. To short-cut this step will likely short circuit the end result.
The use of praise, corrections and distractions
The dog training methodology follows a very simple format of teaching which puts together like this:
- Teach the dog what IT is you want;
- Give IT a name;
- Praise the dog when he gets IT right; and only after the dog has demonstrated that he understand what IT is you want, do you
- Correct the dog to help him keep IT right.
Somewhere between steps ‘3’ and ‘4’ varying levels of distractions will be introduced. These are done so as to deepen the dog’s responsibility and commitment to the command/response sequence.
It may be important for the first time user to understand what constitutes a fair distraction, a fair correction, and fair praise. For this I like to explain the rule of Goldilocks.
- Not enough may not produce the desired outcome.
- More than enough may produce some unintended outcome.
- Just enough will produce the desired outcome.
The ‘desired outcome,’ as related to praise, correction, and distraction is always to deepen the commitment to the command/response sequence.
The use of mechanical placement
Many of the new-age trainers will have you lure the dog into a desired position (i.e. the sit) with a bit of food or the promise of a toy. Some will ‘catch’ the behaviour, when offered randomly, and then reward it. I am not going to say anything one way or the other as to someone else’s preferred practice, to each their own.
For our purpose, though, we want to give the dog every opportunity to honestly earn praise, and so the method follows the practice of modeling the behaviour we want. The dog simply cannot fail to succeed, and with each successful placement the dog is praised for the effort. In doing it this way the handler grows comfortable with handling the dog, and the dog grows accepting of being handled. The benefit of that should be patently obvious to anyone who contracts the services of a groomer, vet, or just wants to be able to clean his own dog’s teeth or cut his nails without a fight.
Mechanical placement is used for the sit, the down, the stand, the front and the finish.
By the way, it is not because i know nothing about using treats to shape behaviour … I know enough about it to understand that it can sometimes interfere with the honest development of the owner/dog relationship. Yep, I wrote ‘interfere.’
The method teaches the use of mechanical placement because that is what works best in the bigger picture.
Dog Behaviour Problem Solving
Generally, and as evidenced in our classes, most problem behaviours will seemingly self-extinguish as you move the dog through the course.
Because the exercises are designed to instill a new level of responsibility that the dog must remain attentive to, and as he becomes more and more attentive to his new role in the owner/dog relationship his character shifts from one of animal to one of responsible companion. He will become quite content to remain within the framework of obedience that you have worked to establish for him; a structure of rules which liberates him from having to wear leashes, muzzles, e-collars, etc..
Still, there will occasionally be those dogs who will flirt with old habits. Should that happen, I will provide you with problem solvers specific to the unacceptable behaviour. But, the dog must have completed most of the obedience section BEFORE moving into it.
In the meantime, consider that there are always three fundamental approaches to problem solving. They are:
- Remove the stimulus from the dog.
- Remove the dog from the stimulus.
- Change the dog’s response to the stimulus.
Item three can’t fairly or honestly begin until the dog has had some fair and honest obedience training. But items one and two can be employed right away.