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I began using the Koehler method of dog training in 1982 when I got my first Dobermann. It is a very compulsion based method of training. Written in the early 1960's, for its time it was very good and for sure one of the best available training methods available in print . While there are aspects of it that are still useful, for the most part I would now say it is quite obsolete when you look at modern training methods. In the book, even teaching the dog the exercise at the very beginning is pretty much compulsion based.
While teaching(showing) the exercize, positive re-enforcment/Motivation training produces a dog that will be happier and have a better expression while working. Later once the dog knows the exercise then corrections would be introduced.
Here is a brief article by Lance Collins which provides an overview of the 3 phases of training:
“To achieve this confidence, having to resolve problems by itself should be a normal training situation for the dog. The dog must be taught that there is always a solution to the difficulty and no stress will come if it remains committed to solving the problem by itself. The dog must adamantly believe in a solution!”
CONFIDENCE IS MANIFESTED AS AN EXPRESSION
This article is contingent on the handler recognizing that training (and learning) is a process developed in the three major steps of Showing, Proofing and Securing and that Proofing cannot come before Showing.
Showing the dog an exercise (motivationally manipulating) utilizes the application of positive consequences exclusively and is usually taught in an environment that is distraction free.
Proofing the dog in an exercise requires the strategic introduction of distractions and the application of negative (compulsion/ stress) and positive consequences (satisfaction). Proofing is dependant on the dog having a demonstrable understanding of the exercise in a motivational, distraction free environment. A dog that is made to be clearly aware of the consequences of wrong decisions and the benefits of correct decisions will be dependable and precise in the work.
In normal training situations, corrections should come only when the dog has “commenced to act in an incorrect manner” on a handler’s command.
In the early stages of performing under distractions, corrections should not be administered for the dog making errors or having difficulty in complying exactly with directions from the handler. That is to say the dog’s intent or commitment is initially more important than exactness. Rewarding the commitment is a small, but crucial, confidence builder for the dog, which provides the handler with a foundation on which to build precision.
Excellence is a product of the confidence that is generated when the dog successfully executes the handler’s commands. This is achievable only when the consequences are clearly and consistently applied.
Successful repetition is the key to the dog being secure in its ability to control the level of stress while working. With the repeated and consistent experience of pleasant rewards for correct decisions and unpleasantness for incorrect decisions the dog is able to make choices that control stress. Having the control of stress levels by making choices gives the dog the feeling of comfort.
To be effective, a correction should not be given in such a manner that the force or method of correction solves the problem for the dog.
While tracking, a dog searches an area next to the track and has decided to continue to search further away from the track.
The correction for the incorrect decision to search farther in a direction where there is no track should not move the dog back to the track. In order for the dog to clearly understand (and learn), it must experience the incorrect decision and the consequences of that decision. The correction should only block the dog’s willingness to continue to pursue the incorrect decision. After the correction, the difficulty for the handler is in keeping the dog working by itself until the dog resolves the problem.
The objective is to have the dog learn to get back to the track on its own and it must be convinced that to go where there is no track is uncomfortable.
When the dog receives stress for the decisions to respond incorrectly to a command, the stress should be significant enough to make the dog unwilling to continue with the undesired response.
Having the freedom to work out problems is essential for the confidence and well being of the dog. It is the single most important concept for consistent and reliable competition results and it is the single most important factor in the relationship between the dog and handler. It builds trust.
Irreversible tentativeness will be created if the dog is stressed (with compulsion) for having difficulty while solving problems. Artificial time limits (enforced by handler corrections) to find the solution will result in stresses that prevent the dog from enthusiastically working through a difficulty. Should a dog learn that after a period of time the stress will come regardless of the effort, the dog will become more concerned about the looming stress than solving the problem.
A dog that consciously makes decisions which avoid stress and generate rewards is comfortable in the working environment. Comfort results in confidence.
The handler’s ability to balance the dog’s motivation for correct work and stress for contrary decisions will dictate the picture of the finished work.
-This article was written several years ago by Collins. In recent seminars that I have attended he makes a clearer distinction between compulsion and corrections. At the time of the article he still used the words compulsion, stress and correction together to mean the same thing but clarified that the correction should not place the dog in the correct position. He now more clearly separates the words and reserves the word compulsion for clearly "correcting" the dog into the right position. He now uses the word correction for applying stress to the dog when it is not correct until the dog begins working to get back into the correct position.