Training Principles


  1. TRAIN TO SUCCEED – 95% success is necessary in any exercise before moving on to the next stage and increasing difficulty by extending time, distance and/or distractions. 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 it exhibits the required behaviour. Wrong timing leads to confusion for the dog as to what is expected.
  3. DON’T ALLOW SELF-RELEASE – If a handler has given the dog a cue, they must ensure that the cue is obeyed until given the next cue or released.
  4. ONE VERBAL AND/OR VISUAL CUE ONLY – Once a cue is given, it is not repeated. 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 and place. No reward is offered.
  6. CONSISTENCY COUNTS – Dogs learn through repetition, so it is vital that hand signals and body language are consistent at all times, resulting 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 does as cued, it is immediately rewarded (marked). 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 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 it is allowed to become established it becomes more difficult to eliminate.