How Dogs Learn? Understanding How Dogs Think


In the last two hundred years, our relationship with dogs become more complex. Dogs became involved in many aspects of human life: herding; assisting people in need, hunting, sniffing drugs and explosives and saving lives…

So how is it that some people can train dogs to perform incredibly challenging tasks while others are facing unsuccessful and daily battle of desires to prevent the dog from chasing others small pets, jumping on visitors or simply, not obeying? Are there natural talents with dogs that are just some of us endowed with? Are there destined to be great trainers, while others are doomed to plod along the end of the leash like a ball?

Before getting dogs to have good manners and to integrate properly in human society, you need to understand how to train a dog. This process can be defined as a change in the behavior of the animal based on previous experience. Using technical terms, we can say that dogs are effectively brought to the required state. This means that the dog’s behavior is determined by what it brings. If after the reaction of the animal to the given command something pleasant or joyful occurs, therefore, the animal will continue to show the same reaction to this command. Conversely, if the dog does not receive anything as a result of its special behavior, it will try not to repeat it.

However, in the case of dogs it is very important to understand that these animals can realize whether their action is right or wrong if it is awarded or corrected in fact at the very time it is being performed. Therefore, it is wrong when a dog, for example, receives rewards only five minutes after the “Sit!” Command has been executed, since it will consider that the reward is given for some subsequent action, which may turn out to be wrong.

Dogs Learn

Dogs learn fastest if a reward or restraint is applied in the interval of a second after reacting to a command. The remuneration must always be ready and be at hand – not wrapped up and not be in a tin can.

Similar to the above, behavioral correction methods should be considered in advance. To do this, it is advantageous to have a suitable object on hand that you can throw if necessary to distract the dog, as a result of which in some cases you will not have to use other methods of influence, since the abandoned object will produce an instant restraining effect from its inappropriate action.

Never pull and pull the dog by the neck when wearing a squeezing or tight collar. Pressure on the neck can cause injury to the pharynx, spine and eyes. At the time, this method of containment was quite widely promoted, but it was proved that it is extremely dangerous, and the injuries caused by the use of this method do not immediately become apparent.

The best promotion is a piece of food. In the process of training, you will need to have a ready supply of such pieces. If there is no piece, the satisfaction of most dogs will bring generous affection and praise.

It is important to apply two forms of containment:

1, Use distracting things, such as an abandoned item or the noise of a strumming keychain or a tin can filled with pebbles.

  1. Depriving a dog of something pleasant. The dog is especially sensitive if it is sent to the place and ignored (subjected to social isolation) and do not pay attention to it.

When using restraining methods, the following rules must be followed.

  • Methods should be applied immediately. Must be effective enough to stop unwanted behavior.
  • The dog needs to be given a chance to do something differently, but so that it brings him a reward.
  • Restraint methods should not be applied to shy and nervous dogs and puppies that are between 7 and 14 weeks old.
  • The dog will confuse the blows and spanking with the game and, therefore, will be completely ineffective. And ignoring the dog works in most cases. If the dog does not obey, turn away and do not talk to him – this will show him that such behavior is not encouraged.
  • If in doubt, do not use restraining methods or outright punishments. Better turn your back and ignore the behavior or use the method of social isolation. Some trainers do not recommend the use of containment methods, but they can be a very quick and effective way to prevent the development of unwanted behavior. However, never lose your temper. It is very important for the owner to correctly use these tools, consistently and objectively. In fact, it’s best to try to prevent behavioral errors, rather than trying to correct these errors after they are fixed.