Dog Psychology: How Do Dogs Learn?

Dog Psychology: How Do Dogs Learn?

Dog Psychology: How Do Dogs Learn?

  • June 16, 2022
  • Posted by Admin
  • Dogs, Cuddly Tails, News

Training is necessary to teach your dog the disciplines and ethics he needs to follow in or outside the house. Untrained or poorly trained dogs show disruptive behavior and cause awkward situations for their parents. To avoid these unwanted moments, it is a must to train your dog, but before you do that, itís necessary to understand how dogs learn.


Dogs learn by association Ė meaning that they associate actions with behaviors. These behaviors are triggered whenever the linked actions are performed and thatís how dogs are trained.


These are the ways by which you can associate an action with a desired behavior and help your dog learn:


#1 Rewarding

Naturally due to their wild instincts, dogs will only continue to perform a task as long as they receive a positive outcome from it, in other words, a reward. Therefore, if you encourage your dogís disruptive behavior in the start, it is more likely to grow stronger because in your dogís mind you rewarded him for what he did and he thinks it makes you happy.


However, this rewarding technique works both ways and you can use it effectively. For example, you can reward your dog with a treat or offer to play with them every time they follow your rules. This way, your dog will associate following your cues with rewards and learn and obey you.


#2 Unrewarding

This is pretty straightforward: if your dog finds negative outcomes from his actions, he will most certainly stop doing those things. The act of unrewarding refers to the process of taking something pleasant from your dog every time he does undesired things.


For instance, if your dog body slams people who enter your house or incessantly barks at them, you shouldnít yell at him because by doing so youíre giving him exactly what he wants Ė attention. So, what you should do is face your back toward your dog or leave the room to show your disregard against his actions and take off the attention you were giving him. This will create a stimulus in your dog that every time he inappropriately greets people he will lose attention, and eventually, he will stop doing it.


#3 Low Disciplining

You can use mild corrections associated with little physical or emotional pain to urge your dog to learn certain behaviors. As an example, you can use prong collars that inflict mild pain on your dog every time they try to pull. This way, your dog will want to avoid the pain altogether and learn not to pull the leash.


It is necessary to keep in mind here that extreme levels of disciplinary exercises might create distrust, aggressiveness, or short-temperament in your dog. Therefore, it is a must to perform everything under a limit and never try to humiliate or completely dismay your dog.


#4 Classical Conditioning

This method doesnít involve any rewards or punishments and is purely based on tuning actions with involuntary behaviors. In other words, you can induce a new action with a predefined action that triggers certain responses in your pup and then use the new action as a sole trigger. For example, if your dog responds to your SIT command effectively and sits down on the floor, you can pair the command simultaneously with a clap and then every time he hears a clap sound, it would become a trigger and your dog will take it as a command to sit.



It is important here that you remain firm, affirmative, and mindful of your dogís thinking and learning process before you start training him. Donít be carried out by your nerves when your dog does something unpleasant because when you think youíre instilling a feeling of wronging in your dog, you might just be encouraging him in his mind.


So, understand what youíre doing, and if you think you canít train your dog yourself, itís always a good idea to seek professional help.


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Thanks you,

The CuddlyTails team

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