Learning Through Natural Consequences

Dogs, and predators in general, learn to be successful through trial and error and reacting to the natural consequences of their actions.

Conventional obedience based training (whoa training) works against nature in that it short circuits a dogs natural learning process by not allowing the consequences of his actions to occur. This is the difference between training and learning. The following is an example using steady to flush. The goal is to have the dog stay still when a bird flushes. In conventional training, a dog is given a “whoa” command. He is corrected with an e-collar stimulation if he moves. Now a bird is launched in front of him. If he moves, he is stimulated and given the “whoa” command again. The dog is being taught that if a bird flushed and he moves, it hurts. His motivation is not related to being rewarded with the bird, instead, his motivation turns to avoiding pain.  The natural consequence of losing the bird if he move has been replaced by the unnatural consequence of being “whoad”  and shocked.

Learning steady to flush with the Higgins Method is different. The dog is shown how to be successful (when a bird flushes, if you don’t chase it, I’ll kill it for you). Once he has seen the successful scenario, if he feels the need, he is allowed to try his options (trial and error, looking for ways to get the bird without me).  He must then deal with the associated natural consequences. I let the birds show the dog that the natural consequences of any other options he may try, will simply be unsuccessful.

In my method, from the dogs point of view, I am the superior hunter. It must be true because when it comes to birds, I possess an ability that he does not. I can catch the prey. He learns that if he plays his cards right, cooperates and defers to my superior ability, I’ll share the prize with him. This is the nature of the predator/prey relationship.


About the author
Brad Higgins, professional dog trainer and creator of the unique Higgins Method of dog/handler training.

One Comment on "Learning Through Natural Consequences"

  1. Christina Lasich, MD says:

    OK, well I’d better work on my shots in order to be considered the superior huntress. Got it boss.

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