Four Phase Training

WalkyWalk’s training blueprint is broken down into a four-phase training philosophy, which must be completed correctly and in order. Each phase supports the next as we build upon what the dog already knows. Like a good architect, we start with a strong foundation.

The first phase of training is called the Learning phase. Consider this the foundation of the program. The foundation of the training will determine whether or not the dog is ready to take the next step in the program. Without a strong foundation the training can’t support the later phases.

During the learning phase the dog learns new behaviors through MARKERS and through the motivation of food, toys, and/or verbal and physical praise. Once the dog learns the behavior, it takes a minimum of thirty perfect repetitions before the dog understands the command. The first phase MUST be completed and firmly established before moving on to the next phase.

The second phase of training is the Correction phase. This phase can be considered the framework of the training program that will support the training and reinforce the meaning of command. Sit means sit. Once a dog understands the verbal commands in the program we begin administering appropriate corrections if the dog chooses not to obey. If the dog understands the commands learned in the Learning phase, but chooses not to obey, we address it as a respect and dominance issue. Although many owners and trainers stop after the first phase of training, this second phase is crucial. Now it’s time to proof the training.

The third phase of training is the Distraction phase. Consider this the roof and walls of the program that protect the dog’s training from the city’s distractions. To complete the training program, the dog must learn to execute obedience exercises in new and unfamiliar places where there will be a variety of distractions. This is an essential phase where both learning and correction come together to adapt the training to unfamiliar, public, and crowded areas.

The fourth and final phase of training is Maintenance. The mantra for this stage is “use it or lose it.” Now the owner must learn and understand that there must be consistent reinforcement of the training principles the dog has learned throughout the training program. This is essential if the owner is to maintain the progress accomplished during the training.

Each of the four phases of training is equally important. If we skip a phase of training and move on too early or don’t move on at all, the training will be incomplete and ultimately unsuccessful. For optimal results, all four phases must be completed.