Volhard Motivational Method

The Volhard Motivational Method was developed by Jack and Wendy Volhard.This is a positive training model overall that does not shy away from necessary compulsion if warranted.

The method is divided into three phases.

  • Teaching- This is where the dog is shown what to do. Then induced to do the task and finally compelled to do the task once the dog is aware of what it is that is required.
  • Practicing- In this phase the behaviors are drilled to set them permanently in the dog’s mind.  Once firmly established distractions are added to make the learned behaviors solid under difficult conditions
  • Testing- In this phase the behaviors are evaluated.  The handler doesn’t give praise or compel the behavior.  All that is done in this phase is evaluate where the dog is in the learning curve.  If the behaviors are solid, wonderful!  If more practice is needed this is where the weaknesses are identified.

The Teaching Phase is further divided into 4 tasks.

  1. Show the dog what to do
  2. Induce the dog to do what was shown
  3. Induce and compel compliance
  4. Compel compliance once the behavior is established.

The Practice phase is where distractions are introduced.

The first degree of distractions are visual.  A person or object is added to the vicinity of the behavior to entice the dog to fail.  Then the dog is worked until it can complete the behavior in the presence of the distraction.  Every enticement that can be used to help the dog past this distraction is used.

The second degree of distraction adds and auditory distraction to the visual distraction.  This can be in the form of clapping, cheering or loud noises to create the startle reflex.

The third degree of distraction is sensory or tactile. With this level the dog is touched or offered a treat from an external source.  If the dog can overcome this distraction the behavior is just about bullet proof.

Finally the Testing Phase verifies that the behaviors are set in stone, are reliable and thoroughly entrenched in the dog’s mindset.  The testing phase is not designed as a training tool but is to determine if all of the behaviors are solid.  If solid, new behaviors can be targeted.  If there is still work to be done the testing phase will identify where the problems are and what still needs to be addressed.

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