I train dogs for a living and am a positive trainer.
We rely on reward and repetition and allow the dogs to make the decision.
Most people don't believe me when I tell them that leaving the decision up to the dog works better than making it for them. It just doesn't make any sense that we leave decisions up to the dogs – it goes against everything they know about training dogs.”How can they do something if I don't tell them what to do?”
Learning is a Journey
Telling a dog what to do too early short circuits the learning process.
Giving the answer to the test:
“The answer is 'C'… shut up kid, I said the answer is 'C'!”
might help the kid pass this test, but it's not learning. Change the test and failure is all but guaranteed.
Learning is a journey, it's not a destination. It happens in the preperation for the test, it's not just getting the right answer.
The reading, the research, the mistakes made in homework – that's where learning takes place. If a student makes that journey, they can pass any test.
Our clients often try to direct their dogs to do things that short circuit the learning process. They try to take short cuts to pass the 'test' (get the behavior).
This is a problem because we, as teachers, don't really care as much about this particular behavior at this particular time. We are more concerned with the learning process.
We want to give the dogs the opportunity to learn the underlying concepts so they can perform this behavior any time any where and be wildly successful, at which point we drop the cue on it. (grossly simplified, but you get the idea…) This also allows the dog to learn variations of this behavior and other similar behaviors very quickly.
If we drop the cue on it, or even worse, give a command (do this or else) too early, we get limited understanding, confusion and a high percentage of failure. Sure we might get to the answer faster, but what if the test changes? The learning hasn't happened. If the learning hasn't happened the dog has a very limited understanding of that behavior.