Help how dog learn. Understand dogs


How dogs learn First a Little Background to better help understand your dog

Unfortunately, many inexperienced handlers do not credit their dog with having the ability to solve a problem mentally, to analyze a situation, to imagine ways to manipulate or control it, then take a pre-planned course of action toward a goal that was preconceived in the dog's mind. Laboratory experiments have confirmed what every experienced handler knows - dogs are smart - dogs can work problems out. It is true that the dog's language learning skills are limited but luckily for us, dogs are quick to learn the few sounds that are important to them. Dogs think in mental images and relate our 'utterances' to mental images. Much to many triallers chagrin, they can even recognize 'command words' when different people use them. A mature dog can associate images with more than 50 words. Remember, a whistle is a human utterance so far as the dog is concerned, so is a sigh, cough, laugh, scream, growl, sob, etc. The inability to originate thoughts and express it in a spoken language does not make dogs unintelligent. After all, dogs communicate their state of mind to other dogs predominately through body language and not through verbalizing. We can learn and use some of this body language in our training but we humans will never be able to understand all of its subtleties.Because dogs communicate very effectively in body language we can use hand signals with and without the voice to communicate with the dog.

How Do Dogs Learn

Almost everyone has mental imagery. Often, just the thought of a loved one conjures up their image in our mind. This can apply to sounds, as well. Think about your favorite musical piece and you can often hear it in your 'mind's ear'. These are positive images. They are emotionally pleasant. At the other end of the scale, recalling a terrifying experience can not only create its images, it can sometimes even make us shudder. This is an example of negative, emotionally unpleasant images. Dogs think in images too so we can mould their behavior in hundreds of ways if we adjust our thinking to the way they do. To relate this simply to an obedience exercise, let's say for example the retrieve, we must condition the dog to imagine or visualize the command 'Fetch' as: sitting squarely close in front of the handler with a dumbbell (or any other object which has just been thrown) in his mouth.The 'going and getting' should merely facilitate the 'Fetch' image. If the handler is using imagery correctly, he must praise a 'good fetch' when the dog is sitting squarely, close in front with the dumbbell in his mouth.

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