What does ABC really mean?
I see all kinds of threads on RTF that deal with issues ranging from, “what set-ups to do”, to “what do you in a typical day?” to “how to sequence”, to “what to do next!” I find the answers are all over the map. I suggest that much training can be guided by using the ABC's of dog training.
I have often emphasized the importance of ABC which stands for Attitude, Balance and Control. And yet, I fear that few understand what I mean by that. I see many asking for a formula or a specific training sequence, or a daily schedule instead of using ABC to guide their training. ABC involves principles of sound training such as the Principles that Lardy and I have assembled (do you have them?) but it also always involves custom training for the dog that you have at the stage that he is at.
What ABC means to me-Attitude-Balance and Control.
Attitude is critical. Your dog has to have a good attitude to learn. He has to be excited about playing the game. He cannot be over-excited to the point of being in a frenzy. Everything you do must be tempered by your dog’s attitude. If he has a sour attitude that should be your priority to change. If he is a wild man, you need to temper it. If he has a good attitude you need to maintain it.
Attitude is everything.
Balance means seeking the over-all all-around dog. Your dog needs to be balanced in work on land and water, on marks and blinds, on simple and complex, on multiples and singles on simple blinds and diversions, on drills and field set-ups, on free decision-making and compliance, on excitement and control, on technical and drive, and so much more.
Control means compliance and tractability and willingness to be a partner. It means steadiness and playing the game with us rather than just to get the bird. It is so easy to lose control while achieving attitude and balance. In reality when you lose control you have lost balance-- I know-been there-done that- too many times with high-powered high talented dogs!
ABC should guide all your sequences.
Sequences are often great if we theme a concept such as angle entries or drive or check down during the day but sequences always should involve ABC also. For example, I do not believe in always doing marks before blinds each day. In reality sometimes blinds are better done first thing in the morning when dogs are full of go. Then again, in an all-age stake, you are often required to do a blind first thing Saturday morning in an all-age stake-be prepared!. Your dog needs to be in balance and ready to handle anything. He needs to run down the shore and not get in early but also angle in when required. That is what balance means.
So don’t look for automatic formulas but ask yourself what does my dog need for A, B and C?
ABC requires thinking about YOUR dog and not just some formula that somebody has found works for their dog!