I was over at one of the “other” training forums recently and answered a question posted by one of their members. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of feedback from the haters there. lol
Here is the question that was posted.: “When should we allow the dog to learn to correct itself, versus us correcting him?”
I like the way you worded that. Very thoughtful.
That’s a great question. It tells a lot about how humans see training. Just the word “correct” speaks volumes. From the dogs point of view, when he is “corrected”, he is being punished for using his free will and making a choice. That will not work when you’re trying to build trust. The goal of most training methods is to replace free will with obedience, basically by removing trust.
The word “correction”, in the context of training, means late timing. In other words, after the fact. That’s tough on a dog brain. I find it’s much better and natural to help the dog learn to control his energy (or excitement). He learns that by managing his excitement, his odds of success (getting the bird in his mouth) increase. He will naturally become steady, thus requiring no “correction”. He already possesses this ability. It’s why he points (manage energy to increase the odds of success). All we have to do is show him that only we possess the ability to catch (shoot) the bird. As soon as he trusts that to be true, he becomes steady with all his natural intensity, drive and focus still in tact.
Here is a young dog in training. This is what we call the “defer” ( a glance at the shooter). The dog is asking the shooter to go out front and kill the bird. He has decided we are trustworthy.
Higgins Gundogs hunting etiquette
Dogs: Stay in touch and handle well. Always honor another dog’s point, be steady when necessary and manage the birds for the gun.
Handlers: Be silent in the hunt. Allow the dog the freedom to do his work. Nurture the natural retrieve.