Training as a Process
To establish balance in training a retriever, one should not subscribe to a mindset of a "training program." Successful retriever training methodology is best described as a process, not a program. Programs are straight continuums with a beginning and an end. Far too often this "training program" is universally applied to all dogs, despite the dog's maturity, aptitude, ability or progression. Programs move from step to step, seldom revisiting previously established skills. Processes, on the other hand, are neverending cycles of planning, teaching, revisiting established skills and evaluation. The assessment phase provides direction for the next training session.
Daily evaluation causes the trainer to assess results, scrutinize methodology (Is it working?), clarify desirable outcomes, assess the dog's attitude and, as a result, modify training methods accordingly. The training process must remain flexible based on the individual dog's needs and abilities. No "fixed regiment" or off-the-shelf, canned training program can replace a logical training process customized to fit your individual dog. In dog training, one size does not fit all.
When training your dog, remember to...
1. Evaluate your dog daily and periodically throughout the training session. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is the learning progressing?
- Are the methods working?
- How is the dog's attitude?
2. Revisit previously established skills continuously. Keep core skills entrenched. Avoid, "OK, that's it for obedience. You got it, ol' boy. Now it's on to marking." You can never stop reinforcing previously conditioned skills.