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Science & Dog Training

Science & Dog Training

Dog training is the process of teaching skills/behaviors to a dog. This can include teaching a dog to respond to certain commands, or helping the dog learn coping skills for stressful environments. Dog training often includes operant conditioning, classical conditioning, or non-associative learning to achieve the dog performing a desired behavior.

 

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Melissa Barron

Melissa Barron

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Three main conclusions emerged from this study. First, the vast majority of companion dogs owned by people willing to voluntarily complete a survey about dog behaviours are considered by those responsible for their care to rarely display behaviours identified in the literature as being potentially problematic for dog owners. Second, engagement in a range of training activities, but not only attending formal training classes, is predictive of a lower frequency of reported behavioural problems. Third, the extent to which owners engage in training activities and the extent to which their dogs are perceived to be unfriendly or aggressive, are predictive of engagement in a range of shared activities. This suggests that interventions which aim to increase involvement in dog training and improve dog sociability may have significant implications for companion animal owners through reducing behavioural problems.

Article: Owner-companion dog inter...
Source: Applied Animal Behavior S...

People with relatively little experience in interpersonal control, as measured by the use of decision making power to affect the lives of others, exercised less control over the dog than their high occupational control counterparts. That the possession of control or its lack would generalize from "on the job" to other interpersonal situations does not seem surprising.

Article:   Actual and Perceived Cont…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

The conclusions, therefore are, that being trained is stressful, that receiving shocks is a painful experience to dogs, and that the S-dogs evidently have learned that the presence of their owner (or his commands) announces reception of shocks, even outside of the normal training context. This suggests that the welfare of these shocked dogs is at stake, at least in the presence of their owner.

Article:   Training dogs with help o…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

Briefly, proponents of operant conditioning believe that "behavior is a function of its consequences". In other words, what happens to the dog after it performs a behavior is important in determining whether the behavior will occur again in the future. For example, if the dog performs a behavior and is then given something it likes (perhaps food, play, a hug, and/or a smile), it will be more likely to do it again in the future.

Classical conditioning is concerned with the events in the world that exist prior to the occurrence of biologically important events (food, pain). It has been shown that dogs will salivate to a bell that is regularly sounded prior to giving food.

Article: Science and Dog Training
Source: Dr. P's Dog Training: Sci...

This study demonstrated that 20 min of daily positive training of shelter dogs, in addition to human contact provided by volunteers, increases the dogs’ chances of being adopted. In view of limited resources and labor at most shelters, practical ways of implementing a training program have to be found. At the shelter used for this study, university students are now involved in training as part of a service learning course (a course in which students gain knowledge through supervised volunteering) and through a student-volunteer organization. The next step in improving the program will involve better advertisement of the training program to the public to increase interest in shelter dogs, and to instruct the adopters in the training methods that had been used to train their dog at the shelter.

Article:   The Effects of Training a…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

When talking about a particular behavior, scientists speak of how much of a contribution genetics have made compared to learning. For some behaviors, genetics plays a more important role than for others (for example, herding as compared to retrieving in a Border collie). We refer to behaviors that have a strong genetic component as "instinctive". Furthermore, we can selectively breed animals based on their behavior. Those dogs that show the behavior we desire (for example, pointing or retrieving in hunting dogs), are the ones we breed. If successful, the result will be offspring that are more likely to show the behavior we desire.

Article: Science and Dog Training
Source: Dr. P's Dog Training

The aggressive response to the ‘‘alpha roll’’ was not surprising as dogs will roll onto their backs as a means of threat avoidance or social appeasement, and may progress to defensive aggression if the threat persists, as it would when an owner continues to manipulate the dog. Such interactions present a substantial risk for owners who seek advice regarding the management of aggressive behavior; punishment may increase fear and arousal, particularly in an already-defensive dog, and perhaps teach the dog to bite
without warning. Studies have shown that most dog bites to humans are inflicted by familiar dogs as opposed to stray dogs, making it even more crucial for owners to properly handle their own pets.

Article: Survey of the Use and Out...
Source: Elsevier

The results suggest that the focus of a dog's attention and additional verbal information given prior to the command can decrease its apparent obedience. In particular responsiveness may be affected by non-informative verbiage preceding important information. The change in response is also affected by the novelty of the environment relative to where it was taught and also familiarity with the command, with less well established commands being more susceptible to even familiar preceding verbiage such as the dog's name.

Article:   Factors Affecting Respons…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

The high retention of the learned task after 4 weeks is not surprising when compared to long-term memory of other animals; e.g. horses have demonstrated the ability to remember relatively complex problem-solving strategies for a minimum of 6 years and as long as or longer than 10 years without further training. A study by Kastak and Schusterman (2002) showed that a California sea lion can remember abstract problem-solving strategies for at least 1 and up to 10 or more years. Even though massed training had a negative impact on acquisition as did a long duration of training sessions, this result did not affect long-term memory; once a task was learned, the dogs retained the task in memory.

Article:   The Effect of Frequency a…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

As reported in a recent survey, owners of dogs with behavior problems are likely to consult trainers rather than veterinarians. This lack of veterinary intervention is problematic as the lack of standardized oversight of many
owners’ opinion of effect of 30 behavioral interventions on their dog’s behavior. Behavioral intervention training programs has resulted in a range of competence and ethical practice of behavior modification and owners
may be at risk of receiving unsafe advice. The recommendation made most by veterinarians was use of a muzzle, which may be attributable to the fact that most of the dogs in this population presented for aggression,
and most veterinarians will muzzle biting dogs for safety during an examination.

Article: Survey of the Use and Out...
Source: Elsevier
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