Dog obedience training: How a dog learns.

Dog obedience training:  A dog doesn’t come with a built in understanding of human language. Therefore, the best way of teaching a dog is not by using human language as the starting point, but as the ending point in the cycle of teaching a dog a new activity. Two important words involving dog learning are “tagging” and “sequencing.” Dogs can be taught a handful of human language words. However, the process of a dog learning a new command does not come by telling a dog verbally to do something. It comes through other avenues of canine instruction such as physical cues. After a dog does a desired action, a tag is applied to combine the target action with a target word. A dog learns by breaking down a new command into a series of small steps. This is known as sequencing. If tagging and sequencing are consistently applied while a dog performs a new activity, then the dog begins to associate a target word with a target action.

Many people have difficulty believing that dog’s do not come with a built in understanding of language. And when they object, they commonly bring up a similar example. Here’s what many people say to me, a teacher of dog obedience training.

“My dog does understand language. He understands when I say “walkie” that we are going out for a walk. What I did is this: every time I would take my dog for a walk, I would wave his leash and say the word “walkie.” So now, when I say the word “walkie,” he knows exactly what we are going to do.”

Dog obedience training

Let’s analyze this story for everyone searching for dog obedience training. My claim is that a dog does not come with a built in understanding of human language. So expecting a dog to learn a command by stating command words has holes. The dog in this story did not innately understand the word “walkie.” The dog was taught what this word meant.  The dog owner shows the leash and then attaches the word, “walkie,” and then they immediately go for a walk.  Over several repetitions, the dog learns the term “walkie” because of the association of the physical symbol (the leash),  and the act of going for a walk which is done at the same time as saying “walkie.” The dog doesn’t understand this word initially. The word is a tag that is placed during the activity. After many repetitions,  after the dog has learned the word. Then, the owner can remove the physical cue (the leash) and say “walkie,” before the activity and the dog will still understand. Don’t start teaching a dog a new behavior by using verbal instruction. Words are tags in the canine learning process. The tag starts at the end, then moves to the middle, and then the tag finally moves to the beginning of a dog training command.

The process of teaching a dog a new command: a target action is associated with a target word.

If I want a dog to sit, then I might get the dog to look up (a physical cue), which causes the dog to sit. So first get the dog to do a target action without using any words. Then after the dog has done the action several times, I say “sit” just after the dog has sat. The dog starts to connect that word with what he just did. I am tagging the action with a word at the end. After more repetitions, I will start to say the word “sit,” as the dog is doing the action. This instills the learning process in the canine. The dog starts associating the target action with the target word. Once I can get the dog to repeatedly perform the target activity, then I start to use the target word before the target action is completed. This process is called sequencing.

As a teacher of dog obedience training, I claim that you cannot get a dog to do a desired command  by explaining it verbally. The verbal part is the last part in the dog learning process. Words are only tags at the end of the command.  Its important to know when to apply words when teaching dogs new commands / behaviors. When searching for a teacher of dog obedience training Oahu, keep these concepts of tagging and sequencing in mind. Is the dog trainer tagging words at the end of a learning cycle or is the dog trainer starting out with words from the get go? The former is the correct way, while the latter shows a lack of understanding about how a dog learns. Is the dog trainer using sequencing to teach a dog new behaviors? These are the questions to ask while seeking out a teacher of dog obedience training Oahu.


Dog obedience training Oahu

How does a dog learn? A dog trainer uses tagging and sequencing to teach a dog to learn new behaviors.

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