Training Principles

Our club operates according to the following key principles.

  1. TRAIN TO SUCCEED – A 95% success rate is necessary in any exercise before moving on to the next stage. Once this has been achieved, the difficulty of the exercise can be increased by extending its duration, the distance between the handler and the dog, or the number of distractions during the exercise. If you’re not consistently gaining the desired result, return to a point where the dog was succeeding and progress slowly again from there.
  2. THE TIMING OF ALL MARKING IS CRUCIAL – The dog must be marked immediately after it exhibits the desired behaviour. Poor timing will confuse the dog and reduce its ability to identify the desired outcome.
  3. DON’T ALLOW SELF-RELEASE – If a handler has given the dog a cue, they must ensure that the cue is obeyed until the next cue is given or the dog is released.
  4. ONE VERBAL AND/OR VISUAL CUE ONLY – Once a cue is given, it is not to be repeated. Only immediate compliance is rewarded. Non-compliance is either ignored or corrected and no reward is offered.
  5. DON’T INADVERTENTLY REWARD NON-COMPLIANCE – If the dog moves from a cued position before being released or given another cue, it must be returned to exactly the same position as desired. No reward is offered where a dog fails to comply or self-releases.
  6. CONSISTENCY COUNTS – Dogs learn through repetition, so it is vital that hand signals and body language are consistent at all times. This will result in faster and easier learning.
  7. WATCH THE DOG’S RESPONSE – The handler’s reaction to the dog’s behaviour is crucial. Never persist with a method which is unsuccessful – look for a different approach such as a more appealing motivator to inspire the dog to work happily and eagerly.
  8. DOGS LEARN THROUGH CONSEQUENCES – If the dog immediately acts as cued, it is immediately rewarded (this is also known as marking). A positive consequence encourages the dog to repeat the rewarded behaviour.
  9. CONTROL THE CONSEQUENCES – Unless you are certain of compliance, never cue the dog to do anything without being in a position to immediately correct the dog if necessary.
  10. ALWAYS WORK WITH A LOOSE LEAD – A loose lead encourages the dog to have confidence in the handler and remain relaxed. A tight lead invites resistance and can lead to defensive aggression.
  11. CORRECT AT THE FIRST SIGN OF UNSATISFACTORY BEHAVIOUR – Unsatisfactory behaviour should be corrected immediately. If poor behaviour is allowed to form a habit, it becomes more difficult to eliminate.