Sadly, when people use punitive methods, they are using classical conditioning whether they know it or not and whether they intend to or not. So, if every time a dog does something they don’t like they hurt the dog, say by hitting it with a stick, the dog will soon become frightened of the stick and feel fear when they see the stick. The next step in the process is that the the dog will associate the stick with the owner and so the dog will feel fear when he sees his owner. Even worse, in time that dog is likely to defend himself against the pain and becomes more & more likely to bite.

A beaten, frightened dog is much harder to train than a happy one!

Unhappily, lots of us (myself included) forget that classical conditioning is happening all the time. Even when we don’t mean it to happen.

This can result in problems we didn’t want. These problems are things like having a dog come to us most of the time except when we are in a hurry to go out. What has happened here is that we have patterns of behaviour, and dogs are experts at observing us and learning our patterns of behaviour. So, Fido sees us changing our clothes, putting on a coat, getting our car keys …. or whatever our pattern is …. and becomes downcast. He becomes downcast because, over and over, he has seen the change of clothes, the putting on of the coat, the getting of the keys followed by our putting him inside and leaving him alone. Fido is smart enough to know that you won’t go away if you can’t catch him!

But the fact is that you have unthinkingly allowed this to happen.

Classical conditioning has been taking place under your very nose and you haven’t noticed.

Have you also noticed, perhaps, that you can never catch your dog for a bath? It is your actions that have caused this. If your dog doesn’t like being bathed he will try to escape because your patterns tell him it is about to happen. Patterns like: make habitual bathing preparations → grab Fido and plonk him in the tub.

If a bath is an unpleasant experience for Fido, then good luck with catching him

On the other hand, if Fido is one of those dogs who love the bath, he will come running and wait expectantly until he can jump in. Either way, he has been classically conditioned. Your preparations have been closely followed often enough by a bath, to make Fido terrified, apprehensive or ecstatic when he sees these preparations.

So, he feels fear and acts on it by running away and hiding. Or he feels excitement and acts on it by getting as close as possible to the thing that makes him happy.

Classical Conditioning. Love it or hate it, it’s as fact. It’s a fact that we can use to our advantage or our detriment and to the advantage or detriment of our dogs.

 

 

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Train your dog to obey you from a distance: remain in one place while you leave them for a time; do an emergency stop; leave dangerous objects even if you are not with them; go left or right as instructed. And that's just the beginning

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This course shows you the difference between your walk and your dog's walk. Train your dog to walk nicely by your side, sit beside you when you stop to talk to people you meet and walk calmly past other dogs. Learn how to walk your dog on a long lead so they can do their necessary sniffing.

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This course trains you to train your dog to behve as you want them to - at home and in public. It covers good manners around people & other dogs, coming when you call, house manners, walking on lead without pulling and how to prevent unwanted behaviours like barking, digging, etc.

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