What Everyone Ought To Know About Dog Training
Dog training refers to the modification process of a dog behavior, either for the dog to help in particular activities or perform specific tasks, or for the dog to effectively participate in typical domestic life.
While dog training for particular duties goes way back, their training to be compatible pets started in the 1950s. The dog learns from each interaction that it has with the environment. This chapter highlights what dog training focuses on to achieve the training purpose.
How Dogs Learn
# Operant/Instrumental conditioning
This form of learning allows a dog ’s behavior to be modified by the consequences. There are 2 complementary motivations that drive instrumental learning: the minimization of aversive outcomes and the maximization of positive ones.
There are basically two methods of reinforcing or strengthening behavior: Positive Reinforcement is where a behavior becomes strengthened by the production of certain desirable consequences while Negative Reinforcement is where a behavior becomes strengthened by the avoidance of some undesirable consequences.
Typical positive reinforcement situations satisfy certain psychological and physiological needs; hence it can be in the form of food, demonstration of affection or a game. Different dogs find various things reinforcing. Negative reinforcement happens when the dog discovers that a specific response terminates the presentation of any aversive stimulus. Aversive may be anything that a dog doesn’t like; for example, a tight choking chain.
This is a form of learning where a single stimulus, the conditioned one, signals a second stimulus to occur, the unconditioned stimulus. Classical conditioning is basically when the dog learns to familiarize itself with things in the environment, or realizes that certain things go together. The dog may be frightened of rain by associating it with lightning and thunder, or the dog may respond to its owner putting on a specific pair of shoes by getting its leash. This method is employed in dog training to aid it in making particular associations with a specific stimulus, in order to overcome fear of situations or people.
This is a response change to stimulus that does not include association of the presented stimulus with an event or even another stimulus like punishment or reward. There are two forms of non-associative learning: habituation and sensitization.
A good example of habituation is when a dog that often reacts excitedly to a door alarm is subjected to repeated ringing until it stops responding to this meaningless stimuli.
The dog will become habituated to such a noise. Some reactions to stimuli may become stronger rather than habituating to repeated event or stimuli. This is where desensitization comes in handy.
Desensitization involves pairing positive reactions with objects, people, or conditions that causes anxiety or fear. Consistent exposure to feared objects or rewards, such as fireworks, reduces the dog’s stress, thereby making it desensitized.
This is influenced by the behavior of others. It does not require reinforcement to take place, but rather a model. It involves observing, remembering and imitating behaviors. Domestic dogs are social animals and their social dependency enables them to learn the behavior of other dogs.
The term “social learning” covers many closely linked concepts: mimicking or allelomimetic behavior where puppies copy others, social facilitation where another dog causes increased behavior intensity and local enhancement that includes social facilitation pieces, trial-and-error learning and mimicking.
How To Choose The Right Training Method?
Dog training involves teaching a dog to obey various commands given by the master. There are various dog training methods and each of them has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. People who are looking for the right dog training method for their pet must consider the amount of time they would devote to dog training, their patience, how smart their dog appears to be, as well as the dog’s preferences.
The characteristics of any successful method include knowing your dog ’s personality and attributes, accuracy in timing reinforcement or punishment, as well as consistent communication. Here are the major dog training methods you can choose depending on the above factors.
Dog Training Methods
The Koehler method is based on the philosophy that dogs often act on their rights to choose their actions. The method emphasizes that every dog’s learned behavior/action is a matter of choice which solely depends on their personal learning experience. When these choices are driven by the expectation of some reward, such a behavior will probably be repeated. On the other hand, when they are driven by anticipation of some sort of punishment, they will likely go away. Once your dog learns that the choices lead to discomfort or comfort, it can then be taught to always make the right decisions. Action-Memory-Desire is the learning pattern that this method employs; the dog will act, remember the consequences, and then form the willingness to avoid or repeat the consequences.
Adherents of this method often believe that after a behavior has been taught correctly, it should be enacted so that any subsequent correction would be fair, expected and reasonable. This method has been used for several years, but some of the prescribed punishment procedures are now considered unnecessary, inappropriate and inhumane by several trainers.
Motivational or positive training uses reward in reinforcing good behavior, while ignoring the bad behavior.
This is based on Thorndike ’s Law of Effect which states that actions that result in rewards will become more frequent and those that don’t result in rewards will become less frequent.
Pure positive dog training is possible, but hard, as it calls for patience and time to regulate the rewards that the dog gets for its behavior.
This is a positive reinforcement dog training system that depends on operant conditioning. It employs conditioned reinforcers that are delivered more rapidly and precisely as compared to primary reinforcers like food. The key to effective delivery of this dog training method is accurate timing by delivering a particular conditioned reinforcer at the time when a desired behavior is exhibited. The clicker focuses on entrenching a good behavior in a dog by luring it by using reinforcers such as hand gestures or treats. After the dog learns the behavior, the treat and the clicker is stopped.
Clicker training does not employ physical corrections or compulsions. It is majorly based on positive reinforcements.
Certain clicker trainers employ mild corrections like a non-reward marker: “Whoops” or “Uhuh” to make the dog realize that a behavior is not right, or corrections like “Time out” in which attention to the dog is withdrawn.
This entails the use of an aversive tool like an electric shock. Common types include remotely triggered collars or those that can be triggered by barking, fencing which gives a shock when a dog with a special collar goes over a buried wire, and special mats placed on the furniture to give some type of shock. Certain aids produce an aversive like citronella spray when triggered.
Electronic dog training has generated a lot of controversy. Those who support it say that employing electronic device in training dogs permits distance training and can eliminate self-rewarding behavior.
They also claim that if well used, they have a reduced risk of injury and stress compared to mechanical devices, like choke chains. Opponents point out the serious risks of psychological and physical trauma that can be caused by abusive or incorrect use.
Based on social learning principles, this type of training employs a model and a rival for attention in demonstrating the desired behavior. This training method was initially used by Irene Pepperberg in training a parrot to label various objects. After that, Young and McKinley undertook a study whether this method can be used to train domestic dogs. The study generated the required results since the origin and nature of the dog allows observational learning.
This is based on the belief that “dogs are wolves” and because wolves have hierarchical packs in which the alpha male rules, humans must therefore dominate dogs so as to modify their behavior.
Animal behaviorists claim that the use of dominance in modifying the behavior may suppress the dog’s behavior without solving the root cause of a problem. It may exacerbate a problem and elevate the dog’s aggression, fear, and anxiety.
Dogs subjected to continuous threats might react aggressively. This may happen because the dogs feel afraid and threatened and not because they are trying to acquire dominance.
This is derived from symbolic interactionism theories and uses the patterns of adjustment, communication, and interpretation between the trainers and the dogs.
By building a positive relationship, this method intends to achieve results which will benefit the trainer and the dog alike as well as strengthen and enhance their relationship. The fundamental principles include:
Making sure the dog’s basic needs are met prior to commencing training.
Knowing what motivates the canine and employing that to influence its behaviors.
Interpreting the dog’s body language for better communication between you and the dog.
Using positive reinforcement for desired behavior. Teaching compatible behaviors instead of unwanted behaviors.
Controlling its environment to prevent unwanted behaviors.
In conclusion: someone should take into consideration many factors prior to choosing the right training method that will be best suited for him as well as his dog.