The Higgins Method is unique among dog training methods. Our foundation is based on trust not obedience. Trust is innate in all social (pack) animals. It is a survival mechanism that has served the species well. It is what makes all cooperative endeavors possible.
In a mutually beneficial dog/owner relationship, trust is the glue that holds everything together. This means you as the owner and handler, have a responsibility. The only way you can make a gundog trustworthy is to show him success, then step out of the way and trust him. The surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him.
When it comes to teaching a dog to be steady, obedience training is limited in it’s potential. It can create no more than a temporary, physical steadiness. It never taps into the dogs true nature and potential. Think of it this way, obedience training nurtures an untrusting relationship. You say “whoa” and threaten to electrocute him because you don’t trust him to be steady. He, in turn, is unsteady because he does not trust you to help him be successful. By nurturing trust on the other hand, you create much more than physical steadiness, you create a mental steadiness. With mental steadiness comes focus, drive and intensity; the evolution of the cunning nature of the predator.
For those academics out there, and you know who you are, here is the Higgins Method as seen in its mathematical equation.
Steadiness must be seen from the dog’s perspective. After all, only he is in control of the outcome. You can control his cooperation, you can make him respect you but you cannot make him trust you. Trust happens when he voluntarily chooses to gives you these things. He will show you steadiness when he finds you trustworthy.