Sadly, it isn't :) Dogs are very complicated, thinking animals that, in order for humans to get the most out of a dog, their training has to be taken as an "artistic journey" rather than a concrete destination.
Before I started herding with my dogs, whenever my dog didn't give me a behavior I wanted, I would think, "He didn't do what I asked..."
Now...I ask "Why DID he do that?" aka the behavior the dog offered. So many times we get stuck in what a dog does or doesn't do, the outcome. When in reality we should be looking at what forces are combining that the dog makes an incorrect decision (incorrect to US, apparently very correct to the dog!).
I was thinking about this last night, I am on a little Internet group that talks all about running contacts. Running contacts are a very artistic type of journey...no dog trains up the same way. There are talks about what to do when the dogs does X, and what if they do Y?? That isn't a simple answer. It depends on the dog, the situation, the trainer, their timing, the reward etc....an HUGE list of things.
People are used to more concrete things to train, like 2 on 2 off, and weave poles...everyone knows the little tricks to training those things...but with running contacts, many of those things have to be thrown out the window. To ME, it's more in line with herding...smallest change, slightest try (thanks Ray Hunt)...little differences can make a good or bad thing in the end. But you still need to remain clear in your meanings to your dog.
On stock, your dog does something...look at your sheep, and if you can read sheep, you know why they are doing it. Yes I know reading sheep can be tough, but it is possible and it WILL show you why the dog did what they did.
Oh running contacts...it's a but less obvious, but it is still there...dog looking back? Reward FORWARD...things like that. Dog not running fast enough on a full height DW? LOWER IT....You are constantly changing your approach in how to reward, what to reward, how much, etc etc.
Some say NO Manners Minder, some say NO TOYS in the beginning...etc etc. And I say, I have used all of the above when training running contacts...there is NO hard and fast rule...
I think that's why people have issues with them, there are no rules, more like guidelines...I love guidelines :) Many people are more rule oriented. They like recipes :)
OK...so I like recipes while COOKING, but with dog training, I am SOOO a guidelines type of gal :)
My "guideline" approach can get me in trouble though...it for sure isn't a strength or a weakness, it just is :)
How do YOU approach dog training? Are you more of a rules person, or a guidelines type?