~ K9 Motivation ~ Both Art And Science

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~ K9 Motivation ~ Gun dog retriever prospect SHR LAKE CHAFFEE'S AUTUMN LEGACY O' TRAD FINIAN MAC JH exhibiting drive and style during a recent training session focused on water work skills specific to 3 directional casting.

All of us that work with dogs have our own ideas with regard to what motivates K9's. For those of us that work with sporting dogs, it is often a number of factors that result in a highly motivated dog. Of course, a great starting place and a common denominator would be excellent field bred genetics. As a trainer, I prefer to stack the deck by working with pups / dogs from proven bloodlines. The time, energy, and money invested in producing solidly performing dogs is considerable, so that in mind, it is a good strategy to increase the odds where and when we can. Along those same lines of consideration, a pup out of a quality breeding with solid health clearances on both the sire and dam are more likely to minimize genetically based health problems down the road and a healthy dog is likely to be more motivated than one that is experiencing chronic health problems or pain.

I utilize a success based training model starting very early on in the pups development and continue that as a core philosophy throughout the entirety of time I am training any individual K9. It is critical to recognize that every dog is different, to that end, a competent trainer will flex his methods to meet each dog's given needs.

By its very nature, training gun dogs is repetitious and that can lead to boredom for the trainee if allowed. I profess that training dogs is both an art and science and that the competent trainer is adept at employing methods based on both. Certainly much of dog training is based on the principles of operant conditioning, those being based in the behavioral sciences and proven effective. The art of training for me is based in the "reading" of each individual dog I work with and strategizing what will make that dog perform at its optimal potential. So much of K9 communication is silent, yet, their attitude and posture is constantly sending messages to the astute observer. As well, every dog we spend time with studies us intently and we are constantly sending them messages regardless if intentionally or not. Consider that with carefully planned attention, we as trainers can send out messages of positivity that motivate the K9 trainee, or we can carelessly send out messages of negativity that will have the same effects on a K9's motivational level.

I find that a balanced approach based in both the art and science of training is most effective for me and the K9's I work with. Add a conditioned love for birds and keeping our sporting dogs eager to learn / train becomes incredibly motivational for both the trainer and the trainee.

Seek to keep ye dogs happy and highly motivated by meeting their needs for both physical and intellectual stimulation. Carefully strategized skills development drills can be approached from many varied angles keeping things exciting and eliminating boredom.

Best in training,