When it comes to teaching your dog new stuff, it’s never a case of one size fits all. Canine behaviour experts agree that tailoring your approach by understanding the way your dog learns is key to success
Posted: 01 November 2018
All dogs are different and the key to building our relationship with them is to respect their individuality and to learn to understand their unique personality. Never is this more evident when it comes to training.
Expert dog trainers are now focusing on what’s known as canine cognition, which is how a dog’s mind processes the world around it. Host of It’s Me or the Dog Victoria Stilwell says: “Knowing your dog’s cognitive style will help you understand what drives him, how he learns and what he needs from you to make learning easier. If a dog finds learning difficult or is slow to pick up on a person’s cues, it doesn't necessarily mean he's not smart. Instead, he might learn in a different way from what is usually expected.”
As well as understanding how your dog learns, recognising their emotional needs is essential too. Dog training expert Kristin Kaldahl advises paying attention to the emotion the dog needs from you when you train and interact with them, as Ignoring it can cause training to fail, and the dog to shut down. She says: “Fearful dogs would need a different emotion from their trainers to enhance their beautiful personalities, which are already muted due to innate fears. With a handler who smiles and makes training happy and fun, the dog can blossom to become what she was intended to be. Each dog must be trained with emotions that will meet the dog's needs to bring out her individual personality.”
To help you really understand what makes your dog tick, there’s even a scientifically-based online tool available. Dognition is the brainchild of Dr Brian Hare, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina, USA. It’s designed to identify the cognitive abilities and key personality traits in individual pet dogs. This involves playing science-based games with your dog (and a human assistant), which are designed to give you a fresh perspective on five key aspects of your dog’s mind:
As you play the games you record your dog’s responses, the results of which are sent off and read by the Dognition team. They then evaluate your dog’s abilities, including how your dog thinks and the skills he uses to solve problems. The Profile Report that Dognition provides sets out a detailed breakdown of these results to give you a deeper understanding of how your dog thinks and learns.
There are nine profile types that represent a distinct combination of characteristics that shape your dog’s approach to everyday life.
Which do you think your dog would be?
By identifying more precisely how your dog thinks and learns via this online tool, the idea is that you’ll become more attuned to specific ways to harness the innate power of your dog's particular instincts and skillsets using positive training techniques. Interested? You can find out more about Dognition here >>
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Sources: positively.com, pethelpful.com, dognition.com