Monday, March 5, 2012

Inside the mind of your dog...

I wanted to share with you a passage from Patricia B. McConnell's book "For The Love of a Dog" (she is an applied animal behaviorists)  In it she explains how and why the clicker works so well: "Food is a great motivator to both people and dogs and is a great way to teach dogs both basic obedience like Sit and Stay, and advanced tricks... This isn't just because food taste good, in fact, dogs don't have taste buds as sophisticated as ours.  It's also because food has strong odors associated with it, and the sense of smell is directly linked with the areas associated with pleasure.... Indeed, the smell of food is so closely linked with primitive emotional centers that neurologists believe that it was first evolved as a way of evaluating whether food was good for you or would make you sick.  Good smells equaled good good which made you feel good inside.  Simple as that."
(By using the clicker as an in between translator you are making him work for a good feeling and then he gets reinforced again with the treat.  That is why it is easier to wean them off the clicker than just a treat.)
"If your dog learns to associate the good smells of food with sitting when you ask, then your teaching his brain to feel good when he listens to you.... If on the other hand you train primarily using force (perhaps you use a leash correction to make your dog sit), you're missing out on a remarkable opportunity to condition a primal, positive association between obedience to you and his reaction to good things.  Additionally if you use force you're probably stimulating the fear centers in his Limbic system,so that he learns to associate you with the potential of danger."

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