What & Where - Strategies for Developing Skill Sets

                                                                        Topic from RTF - 3/2/15
                                             A retrieve broken down into it's parts by Darrin Greene


Perspective: nothing specific here about how to train a retriever
(just a retrieve broken down into it's parts to illustrate a basic point)

As you are training your dog, there two very basic things you always have to keep in mind - the “what” and the “where”.

First – WHAT are we trying to train?

We have two basic types of behavior. I call them “simple” and “complex”.

Sitting is a good example of a “simple” behavior:

  1. Sit

A finished retrieve is a “complex” behavior:

  1. Heel to position
  2. Sit/stay/wait your turn
  3. Mark the fall
  4. Go away
  5. Hunt for the bird
  6. Bird in mouth
  7. Return to handler
  8. Get to heel position
  9. Sit
10. Deliver to hand

A complex behavior is a chain of simple behaviors. Each simple behavior can be viewed as a link in the chain. Each link needs to be solid for the chain to hold together under stress. We train each simple behavior separately and then build the chain when the dog is ready. You can’t build a strong chain without solid links.

When we pull on a chain to the point of breaking, we find the “weakest link”. Once that link is identified we can work on strengthening that simple behavior for better overall performance. Training is the process whereby we create links and put them together into chains. Trials/tests/hunting are places we pull on those chains and see if they hold up or break. Sometimes, training groups can be like trials/tests/hunting to our dogs. Even though we are training in those environments, the chain and its individual links are strengthened away from that environment. This is what is commonly referred to as “yard work” vs. “field work”.

One of the biggest “stress factors” on our chain is the environment we are working in at any given moment. We must keep this in mind as we advance our dogs toward competition. 

The second thing must always consider is – WHERE are we trying to train?

As you have probably seen, your dog performs much better in a quiet environment.
                                   by Darrin Greene
(RTF - 3/2/15)
Darrin Greene - "On Command Dog Training" (link)

     What & Where Application - Pounce's Mar 4th Training (bookmark link)