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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Best Kept Secret in Dog Training - Criteria!

I was in the process of writing a blog post questioning WHY dog handlers don't give the concept of predefined Criteria the attention it deserves...when it dawned on me. Have they ever been told of the need for planned Criteria?

So for the heck of it, I did a little surface research to see if Criteria is mentioned in common training definitions.

First, I looked up the general term 'Training' and found two relevant, accurate and interchangeable definitions for human & dog training. The definitions are 1) "acquiring of skill: the process of teaching or learning a skill or job." 2) training is an organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient's performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.

While there were some great key words used, the word Criteria was no where to be found.

Next I looked up the term Dog Training. Dog training is defined as - a standardized program of training for dogs calculated to give owners mastery of their dogs at all times. 

OK, I can't help the sarcasm and getting a little off topic here, but REALLY?!?! That was the best definition Websters & Wikipedia and other referral sources could come up with? I'll have to devote yet another blog post to this topic called 'What IS Dog Training' . But back to the current topic...again, no mention of the word Criteria.

While the word Criteria was not specifically used in any of these definitions, words like...

  • Process - a series of actions directed toward a specific aim 
  • Instruction - a spoken or written statement of what must be done
  • Skill - skill is the learned capacity to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of timeenergy, or both
  • Knowledge - all the information, facts, truths, and principles learned throughout time
  • Calculate - to consider a situation carefully and decide what is likely to happen
....were used. So the question all dog trainers should be asking themselves is "How do I come up with a process? How do I give instruction? How do I teach a skill? How do I share the knowledge of what I want my dog to do? And how can I calculate what my dog is likely to do?"

All of the above (Process, Instruction, Skill, etc.) uses Criteria as a means to obtain the wanted outcome. Think about it, Criteria is the necessary base to train specific behaviors. Need further proof, how about all of the pros use it (agility, baseball, football, etc.) so why shouldn't you?

Give Criteria some thought as it deserves attention when it comes to dog training. As a little tidbit, something to remember is that in dog training, Criteria is a bunch of small little steps that ultimately make up a specific end-behavior. 

I'll be writing more about criteria, but in the meantime, ask yourself "Can you define what the expectations are for your dog in a factual and logical manner? Do you have a clear and concise blue print to work or train by?."

If you answered 'No' then you need to add Criteria to your tool box. Not sure how? Well stay tuned for more on Criteria!

*On-line references used: Websters, Wikipedia & Encarta

1 comment:

  1. Criterion (criteria) is generally used in the definition of evaluation or assessment rather than training. The criteria are the benchmarks of a performance and determine the success of your training. Without them you'll never know if you get to where you are going! Looking forward to the next installment. Marian