Phase 1 - TEACH
No matter our expectations, our pups and dogs need to learn what our expectations are before they can perform. When I was a young lad I used to think "some dogs are born being able to walk with you, and some dogs aren't". Ludicrous now, but then it was very real to me. It never occurred to me that you could teach a dog...most any dog... to walk with you.
Not only walking, but coming back when called, waiting inside while the door is held open, detecting contraband in prisons, finding lost children in the bush, wildlife conservation such as Koala or Bird detection and fun stuff like dancing, party trick...in fact your imagination is the limit!
But, lets not get ahead of ourselves! First we must teach!
First we must shape a rough idea of what is to happen before we can make the more refined skill evident.
Teaching does not need to be mistake free, all my clients learn how to capitalise on mistakes to be able to get to the end goal faster! Yet, we do want to minimise the availability of making mistakes. That being said, we refrain from any and all punishment during this phase. Our student is learning what to do, not what to avoid doing.
First we have something that our puppers want...usually a meatball or other form of food. Then we use that to get our pups doing what we want. Since they are after the food, they will give some effort to getting it.
Once we have our pup making progress we Yes them then feed them that lure.
A simply procedure which we break down into enough steps to ensure that our puppers are able to achieve the learning outcome.
During the Teaching Phase we make sure to pay our pups each time we Yes them.
The outcome of the Teaching phase is for our dogs to understand what we want. Not necessarily how, but what. For example, if I want to teach a Sit, I want the butt to hit the floor, it doesn't matter where or how long it takes, we are simply requiring the outcome.
We are not yet naming the skill! We will wait for that! At this early stage, to name the skill would be to capture all the mistakes and archive them in that folder which we would reference later. In the case of the Sit example, saying "Sit" then presenting the lure and having your pupper go and smell the breeze puts us at risk of teaching our dog that smelling the breeze is an option when we say Sit.
The benchmark is 4 successes out of 5 attempts, after our dog shows comprehension of the task. When we have completed that readiness test, we move straight into the Training Phase.