Showing posts from December, 2008

Classical Conditioning

Many types of dog training methods overlap or work in conjunction with one another. And while you might understand the overall concept, it's important to know each type of training and how it works in order to better understand and utilize them. In this article I describe classical condotioning, also known as Pavlovian conditioning.

Pavlov Stumbles on Classical Conditioning
Many of us know who Ivan Pavlov was, and that he is best known for conditioning dogs to salivate at the ringing of a bell. What many people don't know is his original experiment with the dogs had nothing to do with behavior; rather he was testing their saliva and how its chemistry changed in the presence of food.

In his testing, he noticed the dogs began salivating at the sight of the lab assistants (who gave them food) before any food was actually present.

What he'd inadvertently done was teach the dogs that lab assistants = food. A dog's natural, reflexive response to the sight of food is salivation, …

Classical Conditioning to Train Dogs

How Do I Use Classical Conditioning to Train My Dog?

Clicker Training
Trainers who use clicker training are actually using classical conditioning. When a trainer wishes to start clicker training a dog, first the dog needs to be taught the significance of the clicker. The clicker actually marks the moment of desired behavior. In order to create the association in the dog's mind, the trainer begins by clicking and then treating the dog ("treating" can be food, play, or anything else the dog is motivated to have). This is repeated until the dog learns the association between clicker and the positive outcome.

I've also read several accounts that mention reversal of reflexive behaviors can be trained utilizing classical conditioning. This involves changing something the dog views as "negative" and turning it into a "positive." An example would be a dog which is afraid of loud noises, such as fireworks. In this case, the trainer would st…

Using Operant Conditioning for Dog Training

There are numerous methods utilized today for dog training - but which one(s) should you use to train your own canine?What is Operant Conditioning?
Operant conditioning is the modification of behavior through the use of consequences (reinforcers and punishers). Although there are arguments against this, operant conditioning differs from classical conditioning in that it deals with changing operant behavior (or 'voluntary' behavior) versus reflexive behavior ('involuntary' behavior). That being said, whenever you're dealing with changing behaviors, operant and classical conditioning can work hand-in-hand.

Operant conditioning has two main tools for modifying behavior - reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcers increase behavior, while punishers decrease a behavior. These operate in two contexts - positive and negative. In this case, positive refers to addition; negative refers to subtraction. B.F. Skinner was the "Pavlov" of operant conditioning, and actua…

Keep Your Dog Busy with a Kong

If you have a high energy dog, you're on the constant lookout for "busy" activities to keep your pooch occupied. One of the best inventions in the history of dog toys is the rubber Kong. Not only is it virtually indestructible (even for extreme chewers), it's also ideal for keeping your dog busy.

Kongs come in a variety of types, and while all of these toys are excellent in durability, the one we're highlighting here is the classic Kong toy for dogs. This comes in various sizes, as well as models for extreme chewers, puppies and senior dogs.

While you can certainly give a Kong to a dog to play fetch or merely chew on, the true capabilities of this rubber toy are best utilized with treats.

All dogs have "food drive" – meaning all dogs eat, and at some point are food motivated – plus they also have the need to "work," or keep themselves busy. This means for those dogs left home during the day the hours draw out and they might find amusement in c…

Frozen Kongs

How many times have we felt guilty leaving our dogs home alone all day while we're at work? Conversely, how often have you come home to a house that's been "re-arranged," chewed or destroyed by your frustrated, energetic dog?

While rigorous exercise should always be the first thing you try to keep your dog out of trouble – the old adage "a tired dog is a good dog" is absolutely true! – there are other things you can try to keep your dog busy.

The Kong is a great toy for this. Its tough rubber make-up makes it virtually indestructible (even for extreme chewers), and depending on the model, it can keep your dog busy for hours. There are also other durable, rubber toys – such as the Squirrel Dude Rubber Chew Toy, Chompion Dumbbell, Atomic Treat Ball and Premier Chuckle from Busy Buddy – which are great for stuffing with treats.

You can stuff the Kong with treats to give your dog something to do, or you can take it one step further and freeze treats inside of …

Potty Training With Puppy Pads

Using Puppy Pads / Newspapers when Potty Training
While this method of potty training might work best in an apartment setting - to a puppy, those long hallways and stairwells are a long time to hold it! - it can have repercussions. Puppies who are potty trained this way are in essence trained to urinate and defecate in the house. House training can also take longer with this method, as the clear lines of "yes, you can potty here" and "no, don't potty here" are blurred. To a puppy, inside is inside - they won't understand the difference at first.

Puppy pads are most likely preferable to use instead of newspapers, as they are specifically engineered for this purpose. They come in all kinds:
scented with pheromones (and/or cut grass)wetness protection (absorbency)leak protectionodor control reusable disposableNewspapers, on the other hand, are free...but, beware, they're not very absorbent.

To use this housebreaking technique, place the pad or newspapers in a …

Crate Training a Puppy

Using a Crate to Potty Train Your Pup
The methods for potty training a puppy are numerous, but a very popular way to housebreak your puppy is to crate train him. This method uses the principle that dogs do not like to lie in their own mess. This isn’t a foolproof method, however, as sick dogs will evacuate their bowels/stomachs regardless of where they are, and if left alone too long, small puppies physically can't hold it. But of course, generally speaking, dogs do not like to urinate/defecate in the area in which they sleep.

Crate training is a good method for potty training when you're at work, or busy elsewhere in the house...if you can't watch the puppy, put him in his crate. When you're home and able to watch the puppy, then you can use your constant supervision method.

Crate training is easiest with a crate that’s adjustable, because as the puppy grows you’ll need to accommodate for size. When potty training your pup with the crate, it's extremely important you…

Potty Training a Puppy

Constant Supervision: Timing & Consistency
In order to do any type of dog training – potty training, obedience, behavior, etc. – you need to focus on 2 very key points: timing and consistency. I would get frustrated when potty-training my first dog because, “she’s not being consistent with her signals”…when in reality it was I who was not consistent! The dog takes its cue from you, its leader. So if you're not consistent, your training won't proceed smoothly.

Also, timing is important because dogs cannot distinguish 2 seconds ago from 2 minutes / hours ago. So, if you turn around and the dog’s already done its deed, there is no use in correcting the behavior because it’s already in the past. IF, however, you catch the dog in the act, then you can take steps to correct it.

Conversely, if your puppy does what he's supposed to, praise him immediately! Don't let the only thing he hears from you be "No!"

How Do I Know When to Take My Puppy Out?
After knowing that t…