Dog Training Part III Communicating With The Dog

Dog Training Part III Communicating With The Dog

Fundamentally,​ dog training is​ about communication. From the​ human perspective the​ handler is​ communicating to​ the​ dog what behaviors are correct,​ desired,​ or​ preferred in​ what circumstances. From the​ canine perspective the​ handler must communicate what behaviors will give the​ dog the​ most satisfaction to​ his natural instincts and emotions. Without that inner satisfaction a​ dog will not work well.

A successful handler must also understand the​ communication that the​ dog sends to​ the​ handler. the​ dog can signal that he is​ unsure,​ confused,​ nervous,​ happy,​ excited,​ and so on. the​ emotional state of​ the​ dog is​ an​ important consideration in​ directing the​ training,​ as​ a​ dog that is​ stressed or​ distracted will not learn efficiently.

According to​ Learning Theory there are a​ four important messages that the​ handler can send the​ dog:

Reward or​ release marker
Correct behavior. you​ have earned a​ reward. For example,​ "Free" followed by a​ reward.

Correct behavior. Continue and you​ will earn a​ reward. For example,​ "Good".

No reward marker
Incorrect behavior. Try something else. For example,​ "Uh-uh" or​ "Try again".

Punishment marker
Incorrect behavior. you​ have earned punishment. For example,​ "No".

Using consistent signals or​ words for these messages enables the​ dog to​ understand them more quickly. if​ the​ handler sometimes says "good" as​ a​ reward marker and sometimes as​ a​ bridge,​ it​ is​ difficult for the​ dog to​ know when he has earned a​ reward.

Rewards can be treats,​ play,​ praise,​ or​ anything that the​ dog finds rewarding. Failure to​ reward after the​ reward marker diminishes the​ value of​ the​ reward marker and makes training more difficult.

These four messages do not have to​ be communicated with words,​ and nonverbal signals are often used. in​ particular,​ mechanical clickers are frequently used for the​ reward marker. Hand signals and body language also play an​ important part in​ learning for dogs.

Dogs usually do not generalize commands easily; that is,​ a​ dog who has learned a​ command in​ a​ particular location and situation may not immediately recognize the​ command to​ other situations. a​ dog who knows how to​ "down" in​ the​ living room may suffer genuine confusion if​ asked to​ "down" at​ the​ park or​ in​ the​ car. the​ command will need to​ be retaught in​ each new situation. This is​ sometimes called "cross-contextualization,​" meaning the​ dog has to​ apply what's been learned to​ many different contexts.

Next: Dog Training part IV - Reward and punishment

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