Reflections About Force In Transition vs. Anticipation
           
Home                                               September 16, 2006

                  I couldn't train this morning and was sitting around thinking about the transition my pup Daisy is
                  going through.  One thing for sure, I could not be more pleased with her attitude and progress. That
                  being said, there are some steps in her training that dictate making “adjustments” before moving on
                  even though Daisy is a manic trainer and loves the game.

                  The basic instinct to “go after something” is activated by motion, odor and/or sound. In other words,
                  retrieving uses the senses – sight, olfactory and/or auditory. For the trainer that properly taps into
                  these traits, a dog will develop desire and style (if it is genetically there to begin with). However,
                  style comes easier for some dogs than others.

                  In addition, Labs are expected to not only retrieve marks.............but to run blinds. Marks readily lend
                  themselves to at least one of the senses linked to the “go get it” trigger. Successful trainers understand
                  the order of appealing to the senses to maximize the ability of a young dog to mark and retrieve - sight
                  first and nose second.  When teaching blinds, the trainer utilizes another sequence called transition.
                  The goal is to achieve a stylish “go get it” attitude without the readily obvious motivators of sight, smell
                  and (or) hearing. One of the critical tools in the process of transition involves the use of  force.

                  Now given that a young dog has been taught and loves to use his eyes, nose and ears as motivators,
                  what makes the smart dog feel like he would want to “go get anything” when not stimulated by these
                  sight, olfactory or auditory senses? There is nothing to see, no odor and no sounds. My feeling is that
                  the repetition of “going as sent” eventually builds an "anticipation of stimulation" by at least one of the
                  senses. Basically, there is a tangible reward for going and the dog learns the “go to something” focus.
                  The dog wants to. Therefore, in transition the balance of sending vs. going must stay on the side of
                  “making sense” to the dog (pun intended). Positive anticipation is the key.

                  Bluntly, stated the dog must have a motivation other than JUST force to make it through transition. The
                  young dog must embrace anticipation…..........which means “I know if I go it will lead to the promise
                  of triggering my exciting instincts.” Building anticipation must be the focus and maintaining a positive
                  attitude is absolute. Too much “you gotta go” and not nearly enough “I wanna go” will build a barrier
                  of negative anticipation. The dreadful alternative is that “dead bird/back” triggers the anticipation of
                  something unpleasant and inhibits the wonderful stimulation of finding a "fun object".

                  The important point to make is each dog is unique in how it deals with transition. It depends a lot on
                  how the dog learns things and especially upon the depth of its instinctive triggers. Working with lining
                  drills, walk out blinds, bird boy blinds, sight blinds, and pattern blinds....a trainer must read when to
                  make the subtle move to cold blinds. It depends entirely on recognizing when the pup has made the
                  jump.

                  A thirsty dog will not look good when "sent to the water bucket" if the ONLY thing occupying his mind
                  is negative anticipation. During transition, force must be properly applied so as to not stifle the growth
                  of positive anticipation. Style when running blinds is all about exciting, positive expectations.