Dog Psychology — Foundations Of Learning In Dogs

When we talk about learning, there are always theories, patterns which explain the “this” and “that”. If you are pet training, then you might also consider studying their way of learning to guide you in the training course because basically, all methods are grounded to these learning theories. Ready? Let’s start.

Theory # 1: Classical Conditioning by Ivan Pavlov

pet trainingTo keep it simple, we start with trainer rings bell (stimulus) then dog gets food (reinforcement), and eventually end up with trainer rings bell, dog drools (response), and dog gets food. In dog training, association is the name of the game. You say a particular word or make a particular sound, get him used to what is expected then treat him with a primary reward, as in “sit” and he sits, then he gets a snuggle and a “good boy”. It doesn’t matter how you did the training, but what matters is how the dog associated the act, the stimulus, and the reward.

Theory # 2: Operant Conditioning by B.F. Skinner

This means taking action based on behavior. A simple example would be dog does something (operant behavior) then dog gets a snuggle (positive reinforcement). If we control which behaviors are to be done through reinforcement, then we can get him to do it more often. For every pleasing action, dog gets a reward, and dog does it more often.

But in pet training, we don’t do the operant and classical conditioning separately, we mix it to get the learning process running.