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Online Dog Trainer Course: Types of Learning

Learning to train dogs online is a convenient, economical way to get the basics.

This gets a little in the weeds, but as professionals, we do need to understand the different types of learning and which ones the animals we work with best learn by. Since this website is primarily for dog trainers, this article will be discussing dogs and how they learn. After I started writing this article, it occurred to me that it would be a great topic for a short online dog trainer course, so I’m doing a FREE webinar on types of learning. This article will give you an overview, but we’ll look at video and discuss the types of learning in more depth during the  course.

The two types of learning we, as trainers, use most are respondent and classical learning. Because there is so much to these two topics, and they are so crucial to our industry, I’m going to be very brief in this article, but I will do an in-depth article or dog trainer course online for each of these types of learning.

RESPONDENT LEARNING

Respondent learning is also known as either classical or Pavlovian learning, and this phenomenon was discovered and studied by Ivan Pavlov around the turn of the twentieth century and, in fact, he won the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine in 1904 for his research.

Respondent learning deals with conditioned responses. Conditioned responses are when a stimulus (such as a clicker) evokes the same physiological response as an unconditioned stimulus (such as food). The animal has made an association between the two events, and the conditioned stimulus predicts the unconditioned stimulus.

Of course, there is much more to respondent learning, but this is it in a nutshell. And, as promised, I will do another presentation on this topic in more depth. The thing to remember is that ALL learning has its foundation in respondent learning. When you teach a dog to sit, he’s making an association between the cue and the behavior, and the behavior and the consequence—the association is classical learning.

OPERANT LEARNING

As with respondent learning, probably most of what we do revolves around operant learning. The name comes from the idea that the animal is “operating” on his environment. The main difference from respondent learning is that the animal chooses his response—i.e., he chooses whether or not to sit when he hears the cue, he chooses whether or not to chase a squirrel in the park. So an example of operant learning is the dog perceives a stimulus/antecedent (such as the lid comes off the dog food bin), he decides on a behavior (to come into the kitchen—although he could equally decide not to come into the kitchen), and there will be a consequence of his decision (if he comes into the kitchen, he’ll be closer to his food when it’s ready—if he decides not to come into the kitchen, it will take him longer to eat).

As you can see, there is the potential for a lot of different outcomes to this scenario. Most dogs are pretty food motivated and a lot of their life revolves around meal time. However, if the dog isn’t hungry (motivation), he may decide it’s not worth the effort to get up from his cozy bed and walk into the kitchen.

Again, I’ll do an article or trainer course online where we can discuss this in much more depth.

SOCIAL FACILITATION

Social facilitation is when an animal is motivated to perform at a higher level because someone else is doing that behavior. Dogs learn very well through social facilitation. Say two dogs are barking at a squirrel. If it were just one dog, he would probably stop barking after the squirrel was out of sight; however, because of the second dog, they continue to bark, even though the squirrel is gone.

Often, lay people see dogs doing something another dog is doing and attribute it to imitation of observational learning (see below), but there’s little evidence that dogs learn through those means. Usually, it is social facilitation or local enhancement (see below).

Much of the research in social facilitation revolves around humans and sports. For instance, one of the early studies (by Norman Triplett) showed that cyclists racing against another cyclist performed better than when racing against a clock.

LOCAL ENHANCEMENT

Local enhancement is similar to social facilitation in that there are two animals involved in the behavior. However, in local enhancement, dog A perceives dog B doing something (barking, digging, etc.), and dog A decides to do it, as well. So the difference here is that had dog B not been barking, dog A probably would never have started barking. As trainers we often hear about a family dog who never barked until a new dog was brought into the household and “taught” the original dog to bark.

TASTE AVERSION LEARNING

Taste aversion learning is interesting because it is the one type of learning that can have a significant period of time elapse between the behavior and the consequence. Of course, this is an obvious survival response—if you eat something that makes you sick, you don’t want to continue eating it!

SINGLE EVENT LEARNING

Single event learning is when it takes only one trial for an animal to learn something. Usually, this involves fear or some kind of aversive event. It happens once, and the animal remembers it.

IMITATION

In imitation, you copy another’s actions precisely and learn from that. There is little evidence that dogs learn from imitation, however there is a great deal of research happening which may result in a different opinion. Some examples of imitation might be formal dancing, children learning to tie their shoelaces, etc. Often, people confuse imitation with social facilitation or local enhancement.

VICARIOUS/OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING

In vicarious learning, you learn from watching another and the consequences that result from their behavior. If you watch your little sister steal a cookie from the cookie jar and your mother gives her a spanking, you are less likely to steal cookies from the cookie jar.

There are other ways of learning, but these are the most relevant to dog training. If you’d like to attend the FREE dog trainer course I’ll be holding online in July, click here.

Susan Smith, CPDT-KA, CDBC is the owner of Raising Canine, LLC, which provides online education for professional dog trainers and dog behavior consultants, as well as business and marketing educations and consulting to help their businesses, including an intensive course for those wanting to become professional dog trainers. Sue is also the co-author of the book “Positive Gun Dogs: Clicker Training for Sporting Breeds.” Sue is certified through CCPDT and IAABC. She is an ex-Board member for the CCPDT, an active, professional member of CCPDT, APDT, and IAABC, and was named APDT Member of the Year. Sue also owns East Valley Dog Training in the San Tan Valley of Arizona.

Posted by Susan Smith on June 25, 2019

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Dog Psychology: Dogs vs. Wolves

 
Be sure to sign up for this unique “dog psychology” webinar Dogs vs. Wolves: Are there ANY behavioral similarities” which will be presented on Wednesday, May 8. This webinar is not about dominance, but about the differences between dogs and wolves — of which there are many! If you are not able to attend the live version, you will receive the recorded version.

This webinar is presented by Wendy van Kerkhove. Currently Wendy is the owner of Fresh Air Training which specializes in Bark, Snark & Growl classes and conducting private training sessions for those humans with dogs who are reactive to other dogs. Wendy is a self described Learning Theory junkie including “dog psychology”.  She is a frequent contributor to the Chronicle of the Dog, TC Dog and will be published in JAAWS (Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Sciences) in 2005.

 

Posted by SBConsulting on April 27, 2019

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Dog Training Videos & Upcoming Webinars

Don’t miss it! This coming Wednesday – we have two great webinars on dog training techniques and enrichment for cats. Dr. Lore Haug is presenting Cats in Prison, and I’m presenting a very important webinar on Criteria and Rate of Reinforcement. After many years of consulting with trainers, participating on discussion lists, producing dog training videos, etc., I’ve decided these are the two areas where professional trainers have the most problems. Also, I did a short blog on this topic and you can read it here: https://www.raisingcanine.com/2019/01/become-dog-trainer/. And, check out my website, https://www.raisingcanine.com, for hundreds of dog training videos.

For more information on these courses, go to Cats in Prison and Criteria & Rate of Reinforcement. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the hundreds of great on-demand webinars Raising Canine offers – you can find them at this link:  https://www.raisingcanine.com/education/od-webinars/.

Posted by Susan Smith on January 13, 2019

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My Twelve Dogs of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the second day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the third day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Gretchen, who’s shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the fourth day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who’s shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the fifth day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Betti the meanderer
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who is shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the sixth day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Arlo the Grinch
Betti the meanderer
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who is shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the seventh day of Christmas
My clients sent to me|
Annabelle for loving
Arlo the Grinch
Betti the meanderer
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who is shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the eighth day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Jake who’s big and golden
Annabelle for loving
Arlo the Grinch
Betti the meanderer
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who is shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the ninth day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Kenny for to play with
Jake who’s big and golden
Annabelle for loving
Arlo the Grinch
Betti the meanderer
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who is shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the tenth day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Grace with the sloe eyes
Kenny for to play with
Jake who’s big and golden
Annabelle for loving
Arlo the Grinch
Betti the meanderer
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who is shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Sky who loves to linger
Grace with the sloe eyes
Kenny for to play with
Jake who’s big and golden
Annabelle for loving
Arlo the Grinch
Betti the meanderer
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who is shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My clients sent to me
Zeppelin , so happy
Sky who loves to linger
Grace with the sloe eyes
Kenny for to play with
Jake who’s big and golden
Annabelle for loving
Arlo the Grinch
Betti the meanderer
Jackson the guarder
Gretchen, who is shy
Copper my sweet boy
And Jimmy Joe, Lord of the Manor

Posted by SBConsulting on December 24, 2017

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Special Needs Dogs – with Jules Nye

Savor the satisfaction of helping a client with a really difficult challenge! Just because a dog is deaf and/or blind doesn’t mean his brain doesn’t work. These dogs are just as intelligent as “Joe Normal” dogs, and training them just means using some critical thinking to be a creative problem solver. Learn how to use the other senses to train the most requested owner behaviors using positive reinforcement techniques.

 

Some key points that will be covered:

  • How do dogs become deaf / blind?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • How can you test if a dog is deaf?
  • Are vibration collars a good idea?
  • Why do some deaf / blind dogs become aggressive or develop anxiety?
  • What cues and behaviors can I teach my dog?
  • Is ASL the best for training a deaf dog?
  • How do you communicate?
  • How to handle relationships between other house hold pets after your dog goes deaf / blind?
  • How to avoid major problems & aggression?
  • Do I need to euthanize my dog?

 

To enroll, click: Training Deaf and/or Blind Dogs

Posted by SBConsulting on June 17, 2017

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Raising Canine – Dog Trainer Education Website Launch

I was so happy to get this up, and so pleased with my new look, that I really wanted to do something special. I was mulling it over, wishing I was a storefront instead of an Internet-based business, when I thought “Why can’t I have a grand opening? There’s no rule that says grand openings are only for physical stores.” So I took that thought and ran with it. The advantage of a website grand opening is that it doesn’t have to be just one day – it can be all month long!

And so it will be; Raising Canine’s Website Grand Opening will take place throughout the month of October. There are all kinds of things going on this month – here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Free telecourses
  • Great prizes
  • A remote group hypnosis session

We have four Grand prizes up to $1500 in value, and we also have a bunch of first prize DVDs and books which will be given away throughout the month. Everybody who enters will win something. Below is a list of the telecourses that will be going on this month, so check them out. Here’s the link to the Grand Opening page on my website so you can enroll in the drawing, if you want. While you’re there, please take the time to fill out the survey. Thanks for participating!

Grand Opening

Posted by SBConsulting on October 3, 2011

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