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The Elimination of Confusion

Stimulation with direction

By Dennis Helm

Virtually all of our dog training problems results from the dog being confused. The dog needs to have a clear understanding of what behaviors are expected in certain situations. The trainer must understand how to eliminate confusion and uncertainty in the dog's mind. Giving a dog a correction by itself accomplishes little other than confusing and upsetting the dog. A light correction with direction (showing the dog what is expected) facilitates training.

Stimulation without direction leads to confusion.

An example of this is in article indication where we want the dog to down with the article between its front feet and touch the article with its nose. Now, what do we do if the dog consistently downs on the article and crosses his front legs in top of the article? How do we correct the unwanted behavior and train for the desired behavior?

As an illustration of how stimulation with direction works have a friend play the part of a dog? Have him cross his wrists in front of him. Now, come and start slapping your friend's wrists with out saying anything. It will not be long before your friend will become irritated and ask why you hitting him. You are providing stimulation without direction, which leads to confusion.

Using this situation again, give your friends crossed wrists a slight tap and then take his wrists and separate them. After separating his wrists give him a friendly pat on the shoulder. A few repetitions of this sequence should be all that is necessary to bring your friend to understand what you are trying to get across. This is an example of stimulation with and with out direction.

Stimulation with direction leads to understanding and the elimination of confusion.

Most trainers know what the desired training behaviors should look like. Our being able to mold the dog's objectives and needs to be consistent with our training expectations is a whole different matter.

The dog is going to do what is in its best interests from moment to moment. Our job as trainers is to mold the dogs needs and interests so that they are consistent with our training objectives.

With confusion eliminated, training and understanding takes place.

Many trainers have a good understanding of what the training objectives for their dog are. Where they fall short is in having a clear understanding of how to accomplish their objectives with out confusing the dog. If the new handler/trainer is fortunate he or she will find an instructor who has a clear understanding of how to teach the desired behaviors while eliminating confusion in the minds of both the dog and handler.

When there is training without direction and confusion has resulted, avoidance behaviors will develop.

A dog that is only given hard and frequent corrections is going to be confused and will develop unexpected copping or avoidance behaviors. Examples of trainers who have not molded their dogs needs to the point where they are consistent with the handlers training objectives can be frequently found at dog tests, trials, and shows. There has been many a handler who having just had their dog show some unwanted behavior in the show ring or on the training field can be heard to say, "My dog never did that before".

All training comes down to proper preparation with repetition. We compete the way we train. If the trainer has eliminated confusion and redirected the dogs priorities to be consistent with the trainers objectives the handler/dog team will be successful.

Stimulation with direction leads to the elimination of confusion.

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