Dogs are not just animals that respond to stimuli in a primitive and innate way. All the behaviors they perform are learned, in one way or another. They are conscious animals , with high learning abilities and complex emotions. Therefore, it is normal that they suffer from behavioral problems, due to misinformation or mismanagement of it.
Before adopting, it is essential that we learn about the behavior of dogs, guided by updated scientific methods that do not harm these sensitive animals in any way.
In this article by Animal Expert we will explain what emotional cognitive training in dogs is and how, through knowledge about the nature of our pet, we can help her to be happy.
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- Differences between ethology, education and training
- Canine cognitive training
- Other types of training
- Factors influencing canine education and training
Differences between ethology, education and training
Before a problem of the behavior of our dog, we must know what type of professional to go to . There is a totally erroneous popular belief that trainers are out of fashion and that an ethologist is now often visited. This, in addition to being uncertain, can cause us a waste of time, resources and that our dog does not improve.
To know where to go, we must know what each of these canine behavior professionals do:
- CanineEthologist: Ethologists are veterinarians or behavioral biologists who study the behavior of an animal in its natural environment and are mainly in charge of instinctive behaviors , usually treating behavior disorders in the dog based on canine ethology .
- Dog education: a dog educator is responsible for facilitating the integration and interaction of the dog with human society and its family, teaching basic rules of conduct . The dog, from its birth, receives the education of its mother to know, for example, where it can go and where it cannot. Once we separate the puppy from its mother and take it home, education is up to us.
- Caninetraining: canine trainers teach the dog to perform certain behaviors and postures, quickly and accurately, when given an order. Also, try to get the dog to learn other rules, allowing him to participate in sports activities, competitions or work.
Canine cognitive training
There are many different types of training that we will see briefly later. In this article we focus on cognitive training of dogs . This method was designed by guide dog psychologist Bruce Johnston, who tried to teach dogs through learning understandable to them.
Nowadays, this method is considered a training that is not only valid for guide dogs, but for any dog that lives with humans, since with this training it is worked in such a way that the dog acts out of affection for its tutor and not for a prize, be it food, a toy or for fear of the tutor.
In addition, the training seeks the understanding on the part of the dog, since this is an animal with emotional capacities because they feel emotions, with cognitive capacities because they think, with social capacities since it is capable of establishing relationships and with communicative capacities, the dog is designed to receive and send information.
This type of training, at the beginning, does start with the positive reinforcement of the food until you learn what we want to transmit. Once you understand the concept, that reinforcement is removed and replaced by affection . If he fulfills the order correctly, he receives affection, if not, we must show an expression of anger, beware, only an expression, no fuss, no vocalizations or physical damage. The dog, facially, also shows moods.
The exercises that are most worked on in this type of training are:
When we go for a walk with a dog we go out for him, not for us. The strap should never be taut , something that causes, for example, flexi straps, or tied around the neck, always harness. The leash length should be about 3 meters in length so that the dog can go wherever he wants (provided there is no danger) and smell all the walls, lampposts, plants and trees that he wants and we can follow them.
Topics such as dominance or submission do not have a place here, since dominance only occurs within the same species and before a resource and it is very rare to observe it, so the dog can go in front of us, behind or wherever he wants .
In guide dogs, at a certain point, the type of leash is changed, through specific training, as they will have to be an extension of another person in the future, but always through affection.
A happy and balanced dog must always have an active nose. For this, daily tasks of environmental enrichment of smell are carried out. For example, offering him his food divided into small piles inside crumpled newspaper, or inside an egg carton, or taking him to the park and throwing his food on a lawn.
This ensures hours of entertainment and nose work, which will greatly relax the dog, keeping its brain very active. Offering a dog food in a bowl is very boring, you don’t have to do anything to get it, it’s just there. In dogs with anxiety at mealtime, they will devour the bowl in ten seconds and those with a light appetite will always have the bowl full. For this reason, food should always be offered in such a way that the dog must work a little with his nose and mind.
Later, the order to “search” can be taught , essential for guide dogs.
Playing with our dog is essential for creating a positive bond . There are many toys to play with our dog, always taking into account his interests and priorities.
Games like “push and pull” don’t encourage aggressiveness or any kind of predatory instinct. It is a game and, as such, it can be practiced, considering that the dog must win 90 percent of the time, otherwise it will lose interest. It is important that guide dogs are taught “seek” and “release” within games.
The socialization of the dog is a stage of development in which the puppy learns to communicate with other dogs, humans and other animals. Here they learn the behaviors and guidelines necessary for the rest of dogs and humans to understand him, such as the signs of calm, the signs of play, the presentation with a new dog and other behaviors.
It is not necessary for our dog to meet hundreds of dogs during this stage. Just knowing two or three balanced dogs and knowing how to behave properly like dogs is enough.
At this point we must also think that there are dogs that, due to their physical characteristics, will have more difficulties in communicating with other dogs. These are dogs with their tails cut , since many of the emotions they need to show do so with this limb, dogs with long hair on their faces that hide their facial expressions from other dogs, and brachycephalic dogs that, in addition to having eyes Very prominent, due to the physiognomy of their nose, they tend to appear directly from the front, without making a detour to the anal area of the other dog.
We must remember that emotional cognitive canine training, as its name implies, is training. For it to work, the dog must be properly trained or in process. For example, it is very important to work on self-control , such as waiting quietly for us to give you your food or leaving the house relaxed, regardless of whether you leave before or after us.
Other types of training
Throughout history, our way of relating to dogs has evolved according to our needs and the end we seek. Thus, there are other types of training, some of them totally obsolete.
It was created by Colonel Konrad Most and William R. Koehler before the First World War, in 1906. The method was developed without any scientific basis. Hanging , electric, or spiked collars were used , all as part of a negative reinforcement. Other types of physical punishment were also used, such as jerking or hitting the ribs if the dog pulled on the leash.
All of these methods are either banned in many countries or end with an emotionally unstable and heavily traumatized animal. Although many trainers consider it an effective method, in fact, we can see some of these techniques today in some television shows, camouflaged as “alpha-roll”.
This technique is based on the studies of the psychologist E. Thorndike . Where animals (dogs and cats) learned with operant conditioning through a positive reinforcer (an award). The problem with this technique is that it does not treat animals as beings loaded with emotional connotations, more like mere robots that respond to a stimulus, and it is not.
This technique is combined with the use of the “clicker” . It is based on a synchrony between a given command and the animal’s response. If you are right you are rewarded . It is used to teach basic commands for dogs such as “sitting”, “tumabado”, etc.
Lure guide attraction training
Also known as “Luring”. The dog is guided with a lure (food or toy), until he gives the given order. The dog should focus on the booster or lure and ignore all other stimuli.
This method consists of rewarding the dog when by chance it performs any behavior that seems desirable to us. For example, lying down, dropping an object that we don’t want it to pick up, etc.
Molding, modeling or modeling training
In the first case, the dog is guided until he performs the behavior we want, for example, lying down, we reward him until he does it. In modeling, we gently push the dog to lie down, and in modeling, the dog learns by imitating another dog.
It consists of preventing the dog from carrying out behaviors that we do not want. We stop reinforcing the behavior by avoiding paying attention to the dog when doing it or indirectly reinforcing it, for example by quarreling or a simple “no”.
This technique is used to change certain negative emotional states that have been born due to trauma. It is always accompanied by systematic desensitization . It consists of gradually bringing the dog closer to the focus of the negative state and rewarding him with food when he relaxes.
“Tellintong TTouch” training
Created and developed by Linda Tellington – Jones, trainer. It consists of unusual movements and touches that help the dog to relax. It fosters the bond between the guardian and your dog, increases the dog’s self-esteem, never with negative reinforcement and totally ignoring the false belief of “dominance-submission”.
Factors influencing canine education and training
All dogs can improve their behavior, some more easily and quickly, others will need months and even years of therapy, support and care.
Some of the factors that can influence the process are:
- The breed: the physical characteristics of the breed can cause the dog to not communicate correctly. Something very recurrent in brachycephalic dogs.
- The temperament and character: the temperament has a strong genetic base, but it is the character that is molded and formed according to the experiences that a dog lives throughout its life and that prevails over the temperament.
- Sensory limitations: a dog with vision, hearing or smell problems, that does not correctly understand the emotions of its guardian or with some physical problem, will work worse than other dogs and will need more training time.
- Sterilization: in very few cases aggressiveness problems are linked to non-sterilization. In any case, this sterilization should be done early and not when the animal is already an adult. Most of the problems of aggressiveness with environmental causes or related to an incorrect education.
Before any problem of education, training or conduct we must go to the correct specialist .