A dog, with the exception of things he inherently knows through instinct, learns through experience. The tools he uses include trial & error (trying options), observation and association.
Dogs certainly think but I don’t believe they reason like we do. Put a ten foot long fence in front of a dog, between him and something he wants. He will have a hard time understanding the “go around” concept if he has not already experienced it. Show him once, and he’ll repeat it easily. The same thing happens with obedience commands. Teach him a “whoa” or “here” command in the yard. When you take him to the field (a new place where he has no experience with the command) and give him the command. He may not understand what you want. He knows the commands in your yard but he has not experienced the commands in the field. Distance is the same thing. Teach him a “here” command from 10 feet away. Now move 50 feet away and give a “here” command. In most cases, he won’t know what you want. This is where some obedience trainers make a major mistake. They believe that because they taught him a “here” command at 10 feet, he should know it at any distance. They electrocute him for disobeying.
A dog needs to gain knowledge through personal experience. If he has no experience with something new, he does not know before he tries, what the outcome of his actions will be. Instinct (drive and desire) will push him into trying different options to be successful (trial & error).
The Higgins Method takes advantage of how dogs learn naturally. Instead of relying so heavily on obedience and repetition, I encourage the dogs to build on what they know, build on their personal experiences.