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Let's Talk Fluency

Today, Crystal, Stacy, and Robin talk all things fluency.

“Fluency” can be described as “a performance measure which refers to speed and accuracy of responding.” Another way to put it is as “the fluid combination of accuracy plus speed that characterizes a competent performance.”

In the realm of dog training, fluency can be considered the third and final “stage” on the road to mastery. The first stage is competency, the second proficiency. Once a trainer has achieved proficiency (usually this is when they attain certification for a particular skillset), the final step is to demonstrate that the dog can exercise the behavior they were trained to exhibit in any given context. In other words, the key is for your dog to perform consistently regardless of the search area and distractions therein.

“Beware the trainer that thinks they know it all.” It isn’t only the dog that needs to demonstrate fluency, but the handler as well. Our hosts break down how handlers typically make decisions at the competent, proficient, and fluent levels.

Ultimately, our hosts contend that, “Until you’ve reached a fully generalized set of skills, you’re still competent or proficient. Fluency is always something to strive for.”

Key Topics:

  • An introduction to fluency (0:50)

  • Finding a match between the skillset of the handler and the skillset of the dog (3:21)

  • The definition of “fluency” (5:17)

  • What does it look like when a dog is not fluent? (10:37)

  • Defining the intermediate steps toward fluency that drive your everyday training (16:10)

  • Different levels of fluency (24:04)

  • Ensuring that you do not create handler dependence (29:14)

  • Remembering that you, as the handler, are the limiting factor (37:21)

  • How to become a fluent handler (41:23)

  • Can proficient handlers and dogs “succeed”? (50:46)

  • Our hosts’ closing thoughts (52:37)

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