Dogs learn to associate a range of commands, familiar noises, whistles and call with well drilled and almost automatic actions. It takes a lot of repetition and hard work on the part of an owner or trainer before their dog is able to be obedient. Years ago some circuses used to use pain and cruelty to train animals. Owners and trainers today are more inclined to use praise and reward.
Horse whisperers also appear to use a mixture of insight and kindness when they are training and developing their horses. The words `horse breakers’ must have almost been eliminated from our vocabulary.
A dog training session will often start with an intense session – which is often repeated five or six times a day. The sessions do not last too long so that the dogs (and the trainers) do not become too bored. Dogs are instructed in a variety of commands. Key ones include:
Sit. The dog is often expected to sit on the left side. Lots of praise and a range of rewards are usually needed.
Stay. This command is sometimes accompanied with a hand movement.
Lie. Here the dog is expected to lie down – often in a position of submission with the head resting on the paws.
Fetch. Come on dog. Collect the ball, stick, newspaper, sheep or what ever takes the trainer’s fancy.
Some owners are also very successful with `come’. Often prolonged praise and rewards are needed to drive this command home.
Do some eleven plus children respond to a similar range of commands? Some children, for example, may not choose to address the softly spoken query: “Is it time for work, dear?” A selective hearing loss could be covered by: “It is time for work! Go NOW!”
Does all eleven plus topics have to become familiar and well drilled or is there an argument for a liberal and broadly based approach?
Should children have to work through a thousand or more questions or is that an educational travesty of justice and endeavour?
The one dog training technique which should not be entertained is the use of the clicker. Some dogs learn to associate the noise of a clicker with the need to pay attention and concentrate. Imagine the eleven plus examination hall with little groups of eleven plus children using their well used eleven plus clickers to stimulate their brains at key moments.