Behavioural Training

All dogs need an education, dogs are not designed to live in our homes, ride in our cars, sleep with our cats, play with our children and be confined to gardens or to chase after tennis balls, but they do and that is what we expect them to do; this is all a form of training.

Teaching the rules of the house, whether the dog is allowed on the furniture, or upstairs, whether a dog can grab food from your plate whilst you are eating and whether it is acceptable to chew your very tempting, but expensive new shoes!

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Golden retriever pack playing retriever and dalmation playing in field

Most dogs are trained in some form to behave in our homes and follow our rules. So why take this any further? In short, to be fair to the dog. Few people can speak a second language, but people often expect their dogs to do just that. Dogs do not speak English (despite some owners calming that their dog understands every word they say!) However, they do learn to associate different voice tones and levels, body language and visual signals. Teaching your dog to respond to your commands should cut out conflict and confusion thereby making your life easier, but moreover making your dog's life happier.

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Positive training methods are better for you and your dog and are more efficient. Rather than trying to make your dog do some behaviour, it allows you to teach your dog "to want to" do the behaviour you want from your dog. It is simple, easy to use, and it is fun, why would you want to train your dog any other way.

The methods used to train dogs should depend upon a firm foundation of practical experience and an understanding of how dogs learn using "classical" and "operant".

learning. The dog trainer may also utilise in addition to these, other forms of learning to help the dog's owner learn how to teach their dog, namely "observational" (demonstrating) and "cognitive" learning (printed instructions).

The relative importance of different forms of learning:

Type of Learning Dog/Human:

TypeDogHuman
ClassicalHighHigh
OperantHighHigh
CognitiveVery LowHigh
ObservationLowHigh

Classical learning is responsible for most forms of emotional conditioning (how we feel about something) it can override other forms of learning. This fact is especially important to remember when dealing with problem behaviour that is driven by any negative emotional states in the dog, such as fear, anger and frustration.

Classical Learning:
The forming of an association between two stimulus, it is concerned mainly with involuntary or reflective behaviour (eye-blink, salivation). Many of our emotions also respond to classical learning.

Operant Learning:
Learning in which the likelihood of behaviour is increased, decreased or suppressed, by the consequences that follow it.

If the consequence is:

  • Reinforcing ~ Behaviour will increase
  • Non-Reinforcing ~ Behaviour will decrease (extinction)
  • Punishing ~ Behaviour may be suppressed

Cognitive Learning:
Learning by insight, processing new and learned information (Reading a map, reading a book, solving a problem).

Observational Learning:
Learning by observation or imitation, this may also be a form of Cognitive Learning, (observing the demonstration of a process).

The use of punishment in dog training can destroy or damage the relationship and mutual respect and trust between the dog and trainer. The consequences are not predictable, and may increase the level of fear and stress, may also cause fear-induced aggression or displacement behaviour. In positive reinforcement training, we avoid the use of punishment to suppress unwanted behaviour, we focus on teaching and reinforcing behaviour, we want from our dog.

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Dog Postures

The images below show the various common postures you may notice in your dog. To view or download the full document, please visit our Links/Downloads page.

dog posture diagrams

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If you would like to discuss your behavioural training requirments, please call me for FREE using the number in the header, or alternatively, please click here to make an online enquiry with me today.

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