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Building through a layered approach

k9 Mar 22, 2022

Two weeks ago, I shared a info on a presentation I did regarding the Art of the Handler in preparation for the K9 Social Summit hosted here at Deepwoods last week.

For this week’s tip, I’d like to share with you that progression happens through a layered approach.

Dogs just like people learn new skills with time and exposure. When a foundational skill becomes proficient, you take that skill and complicate it. Need an example?

One of the most important skills in life is stability. A dog needs to essentially behave when things are calm
as well as when they are chaotic. For the handler, we’ve termed this skill as “critical thinking under stress”.

To start, we place dogs and handlers in a calm environment with no stress, little noise, and few distractions to test their basic obedience levels. From there, we placed them through a series of environments with and without gunfire as a distraction. This tested the dogs’ ability to stay obedient and the handlers’ ability to think and perform as the environment became increasingly more stressful.

As the teams demonstrated proficiency, we continued to increase the stress in layers. This was achieved by testing the dog and handler’s ability to perform the same skills but now at a distance or from an elevated position. From there, we tested their ability to perform while operating down range or the ability to recall during gunfire.

Through the layered progression approach, we were able to expose teams to a variety of new skills and scenarios while simultaneously gaining confidence.

The layering approach can be used over a plethora of platforms or in a variety of settings. Start small to gain confidence and proficiency and then kick it up a notch until your conquer that layer. Then on to the next layer and the next layer. As the options for change are endless, the training environment remains consistently challenging for the learner.

How will your choose to apply the progression through layering approach in your life?

PS check out the K9 Social Summit Instagram for a glimpse into what happened last week. Thanks to all that came out!

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