Conflict Management System (CMS)
Conflict Management System (CMS) is a crucial training methodology. For us to be successful at a trial, we need to prepare our dog for possible conflicts. Conflict is simply defined between what the dog wants to do and what the dog should do. It does not have to have a negative meaning. It can be just the incompatibility of the two. One is different from the other. One is preferred above the other.
Some trainers will say that they would “want for the dogs to want to do what we want them to do.” We all desire this, but, in reality, it is hard to keep the dog 100% positively motivated 100% of the time. We are not saying it is impossible but difficult.
At some point, we have to help the dog learn how to work through these conflicts. How do we do this?
We brainstorm and try to identify any possible occurrences that might create such a conflict.
Protection. A good example is a dog taking a shortcut to the blind #6 in IGP3. We know that dogs might experience extra level of drive and excitement on a new field. Depending on the trial's location and its size, a decent number of people might mingle by the final blind. The dog might get conflicted and take a shortcut.
What we do in practice is run the dog until he is able to withstand any temptation to cut across to the final blind. A Helper can be using his whip to get the dog’s attention out of #6 while the dog is on the way to #1. We can have people clapping and hooting by that blind. The dog learns that no reinforcement is coming ever if he “cuts corners.”
Obedience. Another example is retrieve over the jump. If you place the dumbbell completely off the center of the jump, so the straight line to you is not even close to being across the jump - it will be challenging for the dog not to take the shortest route. It takes a certain level of self-control to take a “detour” over the jump. Hopefully, you will never throw the dumbbell so badly, but if you do - your dog is ready for it.
Tracking. Many dogs love tracking. They get excited and antsy. What if during a trial, some confusion happens about track-laying, and you end up waiting a super long time with your dog being hyped up to start tracking. Teach your dog to wait calmly even for an unusually long time with the flag in line of sight. He wants to track, and he has to calmly wait. Yet, another conflict.
In practice, we make it much more complicated than it can possibly be during a trial. Of course, there is no need to be unreasonable and stress the dog. There has to be a balance.
Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions at the bottom of the screen.
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