''MASTERY IS ACHIEVED THROUGH DELIBERATE PRACTICE''
- Author Unknown
The strength of a building lies in its foundation. The main purpose of the foundation is to hold the structure above it and keep it strong and upright. If we progress our training without the correct foundation in place, it will crumble and come back to bite you on the butt!
Building a foundation is a process which takes different ingredients such as trust, patience and A LOT of training and is what ensures both handler and dog understand the game and have the skills to be successful during a trail. Mantrailing is a 2 way sport which relies on communication between you and your dog which means that both ends of the lead must be open to learning in order to create a solid foundation, not just your dog!
UNDERSTANDING TRAINING COMPONENTS AND CRITERIA'S
What do you think happens when we constantly set our dogs up for failure? In other words, if we make it too hard for them to succeed. See graphic below:
Less success = Reduced motivation, which then leads to a decrease in the overall performance.
More success = Increase in motivation, which then leads to an increase in the overall performance.
Think about it.... Imagine you have been set a really difficult task at work which was outside of your skillset and knowledge without any adequate training. You tried your very best but missed the deadline as your struggled to complete it and then your boss says he was cutting your wage because he wasn't satisfied with your performance. Would you do it again with 100% enthusiasm? No you wouldn't.
So, where do 'components and criteria's' fit in to create success in training? A training component is the individual aspect of training you are working on (example: Split Start).
A criteria is a standard which something can be judged or decided. (example: A confident decision on the direct of travel from the scent article.)
By focusing on one chosen training component (example: Split Start) at a time and understanding the training criteria for it, whilst lowering the other criteria's (example: length of trail, decoys, contamination), we create the best chance of success for our dog.
PROOFING YOUR TRAINING Proofing means practicing a behaviour (example: practicing a component) in different environments and situations until your dog has generalised it and can do it anywhere and in any situation, even with distractions. Just because your dog chose the correct trail layer twice 6 weeks ago on a Split Start exercise does not mean they have proofed the behaviour and can move on. - What happens if it's a windy day? What happens if there are decoys? What happens if they just did it by 'chance' last time? So, it's very important that we 'proof' their new skills through our training at sessions so that we can then trust them to make the correct decisions in future.
''Sometimes being successful means taking a step back. And that’s ok!''
THE YO-YO EFFECT
Now that you have scratched the surface in this blog (just!) to try and understand your Mantrailing dogs training needs better, you may now see what we mean when training sessions are often described as having a 'yo-yo effect' and why you will focus and jump between different skills, start types and components throughout your Mantrailing journey. The 'Yo-Yo effect' reflects our constant evolving and the adaptation of our foundation training, training components/criteria's and proofing of behaviours so that we set our Mantrailing dogs up for the best chance of success, thus creating a motivated and resilient problem solver.