One of the phrases often heard in dog training classes and clinics as well as seen in books and articles is, “When the dog knows the exercise, we can then correct him for not doing it correctly.” This is all well and good, but how do we know when the dog knows it? This question is seldom addressed and leads to many novice students not making rapid progress in the fundamental exercises.
The student needs some objective way of evaluating his dog’s progress. In some cases it might be the dog’s repeating the correct response several times on the first command with no help. In others it may be that the exercise, even the sit, needs to be broken down further into smaller pieces so that the dog can be rewarded and more easily evaluated.
Dogs differ in ease of condition. Handlers differ in their ability to train their dogs. For this reason we can not say practice for one week and the dog should have it.
In setting up a training program or class, try to break exercises down into small steps which when put together give the final product. Set up a way that each student can judge his own progress so that he and his dog can move to the next step without guess work. If the students have difficulty knowing what they are supposed to do, how can we expect them to evaluate their dogs’ actions?
©1980 W.H. Morrison, III