“A mind stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”—Oliver Wendell Holmes
Welcome to the Motivational Method
This is an approach to training for people who like their dogs and who have them first and foremost as pets and companions. At the heart of the Motivational Method is the conviction that positive reinforcement is the most effective teaching tool. By rewarding the correct response, the dog is motivated to learn and training is made pleasant for both handler and dog.
It is an evolving method. As we have gained experience through training, teaching and the continued study of canine behavior, we have been more and more successful in eliminating the need for negative reinforcement and compulsive training.
The Motivational Method dates back to 1970, and the Volhards gave their first seminar in 1974. The seminars were followed by the first Instructor School in 1977, sponsored by Off-Lead Magazine.
Next came the Instructor School/ Training Camps which have been attended by individuals at every level of experience. Participants have come from across the country, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Singapore and the West Indies.
The Volhard Motivational Method
Orderly, Logical and Fun.
The Volhard Motivational Method of training, a proven approach to teaching beginners. The techniques are simple and can be successfully used by a majority of class participants. Although it was intended for training puppies, it proved itself equally effective with adolescent, adult and even problem dogs, many of which were given a second chance at life. The relationship between man and dog is complex and often suffers from poor communication. Blending human and canine psychology into a carefully structured program, the Motivational Method bridges the gap between the species.
“Success Breeds Success” is an old saying and one that applies to this method. With the ultimate goal of a happy, reliable dog, each exercise is broken down into easily mastered steps, each step building on the previous one. Learning becomes easy and enjoyable, as complex chains of behaviors are mastered. Starting with the companion dog whose owner wants basic control, training levels progress through to Utility training for AKC competition.
The Motivational Method systematically moves through three phases: (1) teaching, (2) practicing and testing, (3) training the dog through positive reinforcement.
This training results in a dog that believes it can succeed, a belief that is crucial—without it, the dog cannot continue to learn and perform in a reliable, motivated fashion. As the work becomes increasingly demanding, the dog accepts the challenge. He has been taught that he will succeed, because at no time has he been placed in a position of failure. The same applies to the owner.
Recognizing that clear communication is necessary for successful training, the Motivational Method places great emphasis on training the handler. “We are not training your dog—we are teaching you to train your dog.” Research into the psychology of how people learn is incorporated into every step of the training process. Body posture, leash handling, tone of voice and an understanding of dog behavior are skills taught to each handler, enabling him to achieve the training of his dog.
Jack & Wendy Volhard’s Motivational Method – 1994
Reproduced with permission by the author.