How does dog behavior training work?

Operant conditioning is a powerful tool for shaping the behavior of almost any animal, including dogs. Focusing on positive reinforcement helps everyone to enjoy training and deepens the bond between trainer and student. Using a marker helps to accurately identify the desired behavior and greatly accelerates the training process. When a dog doesn't learn something, it's often due to a break in communication and not a lack of willingness to cooperate.

A good coach can help solve these problems. The only real limits of this type of training are the manager's ability to correctly identify significant reinforcers and divide the desired behavior into manageable steps. A dog can sit perfectly when the handler is standing, but it can get very confused when the handler gives the order from a sitting position. When training a new command, trainers should add new contexts and make backup copies when necessary to help the dog generalize.

The score isn't the reward; it's simply a sign that the behavior was correct and a promise of a reward to come. When breaking up a dog for undesirable behavior, the first thing to consider is what reward the dog will receive for it. The trainer can push or lure the dog into a sitting position, or he can simply wait until the dog naturally sits on his own. However, today, many pet shelters work directly with canine behavior specialists to help them treat problem pets that have been delivered by their owners.

Although I've had dogs since I was a child, I never really trained them until 1979, when I had my first German shepherd. Susan Friedman, professor of psychology at Utah State University, entered the world of dog training after a 20-year career in special education, a field in which she has a doctorate. After all, shepherds were police dogs or dogs like Rin Tin Tin or Bullet (Roy Rogers' dog), so of course they should be trained. Dogs that are trained using traditional methods are basically punished, usually with a leash correction, every time they make a mistake.

Once the dog has learned to adapt at the right time, it should be possible to begin to be exposed to gradually more intense stimuli (see Desensitization and Counterconditioning). If you want your dog to be obedient and well-behaved, you'll need to invest time in training him properly. As you can see, behavioral training differs from these other types of training in that it aims to correct unwanted behavior rather than teaching a new skill. When behavior is fully learned, no reward may be necessary, although both dogs and people appreciate feedback for a job well done.

On the contrary, the sound of a bell does not normally cause dogs to salivate; they will only do so if they have been conditioned to associate a bell with food.

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