The dog and the wolf do not have the same values as La Fontaine said in his famous fable.
many ethologists who observe dogs in the wild, but also stray or free dogs, are gradually leading to a new form of recognition of the learning and communication modes necessary for the well-being of the dog.
Domestication binds the dog to man far more than it seems and deploys so much effort to adapt and live with us.
What is dog training?
Dog training is a traditional method of obedience to teach the dog to sit, lie down … etc.
Training dogs is very different! It turns out to be more complex because it is based on learning to live in a human environment.
knowing that even the working dog, necessarily needs training to be integrated in an environment where the codes are specific to a species that is not his.
He will have to learn to accept that we touch him, to accept the leash, to come back to you during a walk, to remain calm in an unknown place, to accept cuddles, to control himself in a game, not to bark needlessly , eat at fixed times and not just anything … and even, live with the neighbor’s cat or passers-by in the street.
Communication and learning are precious for the dog:
The dog uses two faculties we know well: communication and learning.
In ethology the communication for the dog is a signal emitted by an individual, the master, which influences the behavior of the receiver.
For example, by explaining to a dog that he must stop on a sidewalk with you before crossing a road, the stop signal that you show him and that you reinforce by stopping, is advantageous for you since you avoid a danger, it saves you from having to run after your dog who could have crossed the road in front of cars.
This form of communication that is integrated into dogs training also has an advantage for your dog in our world, that of not being crushed.
Learning is defined by the modification of the dog’s behavior as a result of individual experiences. The dog experiments with you every day and learns all the time, thinking and memorizing what you can expect from him in certain situations.
Dogs training is the set of techniques used following the intervention of a person to ensure that learning leads to a predictive response of the dog.
Dogs training refers to operant conditioning:
According to Skinner, the conditioning operating in dogs training is:
“the modification of the probability of occurrence of a behavior according to the consequences of the behavior”
Thus, the behavior that we want to see adopted by his dog is dependent on the consequences associated with it, whether considered by the dog as pleasant or not.
Widely used in practice, operant conditioning uses the dog’s motivational factors: primary reinforcement, recognized spontaneously by the dog and often associated with pleasure (food, outdoor walking, getting out of the car, seeing his dog friends, playing … ), which is secondary and not natural for the dog (the voice that the dog has learned as associated with something positive for the dog, the caress if it has become pleasant for the dog too).
The dog may feel pleasure for some rewards while others do not, it is a question of individuals, temperaments, experiences or feelings.
Coercive or positive methods?
The main methods of training used can be of two types:
coercive: based on reprimand and unpleasant sensations. The dog listens or “obeys” out of fear, to avoid physical or physiological pain, the dog renounces all actions that have not found solutions to escape, he has no choice.
These methods still used today, as with electric collars or spikes which are however prohibited in some European countries, reduce the well-being of the dog and increase stress-indicating behaviors or major behavioral problems.
Cooperatives: sometimes called “positive”: based on the rewards and pleasant sensations for the dog. The dog listens and “obeys” out of envy, he adheres and understands his interest, he becomes an actor of his learning, he feels pleasure or an absence of discomfort physically or psychologically.
Beyond obedience, dogs training is a reflection of a state of mind with his dog.