Going To The Line Practice

I find it rather amusing to suggest that a dog is being disobedient for not heeling to the line properly. When a retriever performs correctly, the trainer takes credit for establishing a useful expectation or standard. However, when the dog does not perform correctly it is disobedience. The definition of disobedience is “the refusal to do the right thing”.

The suggestion of disobedience deflects from the fact that just maybe the trainer did not do a very effective job establishing  and proofing the proper conditioned responses in the first place. Practice and repetition demand a lengthy investment in time which includes gradually replicating consistent, quality performances in various situations.   

In fact, it would be accurate to state that no matter how the dog proceeds to the line, what you see are conditioned responses (good and/or bad). A dog is always at some skill level and when performing will provide a visible “description” of its training.  A dog generally is not refusing to do the right thing, but simply doing what the trainer has conditioned him to do up to that point in time. The dog does what it has been permitted or conditioned to do.

To repeat, the definition of disobedience is “the refusal to do the right thing”. What trainers need to establish are correct conditioned responses that are reliable all the time. Only then is a dog’s performance close to ideal (and then there is maintenance). Just "Because I said so!" does not necessarily produce reliable conditioned responses.

Practice and repetition seem to be old fashioned in today’s pace of having things "solidified" yesterday.   note: Pounce is presently working Hillmann's heeling program (fall and winter). 

                                                        Competition vs. Disobedience

During the last few years, I have watched countless baseball, football, track, tennis and basketball competitions. There were winners and many more losers. Those that lost failed to “measure up”.  In most competitions there are penalties that often determine the final result of an event. No one wants to loose, but someone always does.

So as to re-focus the point of this essay, the definition of disobedience is “the refusal to do the right thing”. Humans performing at any level of competition will at times demonstrate a “refusal to do the right thing”. They are penalized and must deal with the error. They may even be removed from the game. Players make mistakes, know what they look like and understand consequences (not always just in the moment).

However, loosing is rarely because of a "refusal to do the right thing". In general, they are either not talented enough, poorly trained  or simply make a mistake. In another format, if it is a dog  performing poorly, this is "conveniently, frequently and simply" labeled as disobedience. Apparently, they simply refuse to do what they have been taught even though they know better. The onus is smoothly shifted to the dog and poor behaviors are somehow not the trainer's fault. Training then becomes focused on obedience with pressure and corrections to make a dog NOT do something. How well does that work when one is Not permitted to use either?

Whatever happened to the concept of perfect practice with many, many correct repetitions producing dependable, effective conditioned responses?

                   A well trained retriever is a "work of art". Its trainer is the sculptor (or not).

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Bill Hillmann YouTube Videos

YouTube "Line Practice"

                      "I'm beginning to learn that 95% OB is not enough.........and 85% is much
                          worse.........but 75% is pretty good."           KwickLabs  Sept., 2006

YouTube Hillmann "Session"

Pounce's line Conditioning Into the Field

At the Line Conditioning