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When it comes to dog training, there are many different opinions on which is the best approach. There’s Positive Reinforcement training where the dog trainer only use rewards to train dogs on tasks and don’t use corrections. There’s Balanced training where the dog trainer uses a mixture of reward-based training to teach dogs the tasks and use corrections to get rid of undesired behaviors. And then there is Compulsion training where the dog trainer uses mostly corrections to train the dog to understand tasks and undesired behaviors with little reward. Before we dive into these methods of dog training, we need to understand that each dog has a different personality and learns differently.
Ace dogs are pros at reading and understanding social information, and good at solving problems on their own. The downside to having an Ace dog is that sometimes they may be too smart for their own good. They may occasionally try to get away with things they shouldn't and then rely on a soulful gaze and an ingratiating nuzzle to win you over.
Charmers have exceptional social skills, meaning they can read human body language like a book. Seeing as these social skills are paired with just the right amount of independent problem-solving skills, to where they can be quite mischievous! This combination of cognitive skills sets means that many Charmers are not above using their owner's social information to get their own way. Whether cooperative or sneaky, these dogs are deeply in tune with their owner and very clever.
Interacting and communicating with others can be challenging. In the Socialite's case, they take this talent to a whole new level. Although they rely less on independent problem-solving skills than other dogs, they rely on a very specific strategy - using the humans in their pack to get what they want. Judging from their performance in the social games of the Dog Cognition Assessment, we suspect that most of the time this strategy succeeds.
Dogs with the Expert profile have all of the cognitive tools they need to solve most of their daily problems on their own. They have a relatively strong memory along with the ability to solve many types of problems they've never seen before. Due to these cognitive abilities, Experts tend to be less reliant on humans than other dogs. Their results in the social component of the Dog Cognition Assessment, however, show that it isn't that Experts cannot understand humans, rather they are just more reliant on their own strategies which have led them to success time and again.
In a world of the relentless pursuit of perfection, it is easy to discount the value of consistent achievement. Renaissance Dogs are the canine embodiment of this reliability. Rather than being completely dependent on individual cognitive strategies, Renaissance Dogs show impressive flexibility across all 5 cognitive dimensions. While others focus on the proverbial tree, the Renaissance Dog can see the entire forest.
Thousands of years ago, when our human and canine ancestors first began their extraordinary relationship, there was something about certain wolves which distinguished them from the rest of the pack. Rather than a traditional wolf form of intelligence, these pioneer dogs, or Protodogs, had budding social skills enabling them to approach and interact with humans in a whole new way. Protodogs are akin to these first dogs; flexible when it comes to solving problems on their own, but with sufficient social acumen to turn to humans for help when needed.
Einsteins are the rocket scientists of the dog world. While many dogs struggle when it comes to cause and effect, Einsteins have an excellent comprehension of the physical world. They also show one of the key qualities of genius: the ability to make inferences. Anyone can learn to solve a problem, but it is only by making inferences that we can flexibly solve a problem we have never encountered before. While, like many brilliant minds, Einsteins occasionally struggle with social situations, their avid grasp of the physical world more than compensates.
A Maverick is the one who strikes out alone and solves problems in their own way. With cognitive characteristics closer to their wolf ancestors than most other dogs, Mavericks are relatively unique in the dog world. These dogs definitely prefer to tackle problems independently, and when it comes to understanding the physical world, hold their own compared to other dogs.
Stargazers are usually considered to be aloof by their owners and have their own often misunderstood type of genius. Generally, their cognition is geared towards self-reliant and present-minded strategies, rather than being overly concerned with past events and human collaboration. They have a wild, wolf-like side which can be a great compliment to the lifestyle of a rugged individual. Due to this, Stargazers may have to work a little harder than other dogs in social situations, and their owners may have to work a little harder than other owners in training.
Dr. Brian Hare is a core member of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience, a Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology, and Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. Dr. Hare has spent several years studying dogs and their cognitive abilities and has written many studies on it. From these studies, he was able to come up with the dog personality types that we just discussed. So now that we can better understand dogs and their personalities, let us dive into how that applies to dog training.
Here is the link to his studies:
We’ll start first with Purely Positive training. As you can see from the profiles, some of these dogs are very smart, some of them are independent, and we also have some that are both smart and independent. When you have any one of these as a part of their personality, they mostly only follow commands for treats. They will either figure out the game and not want to do it anymore when you start taking the treat away, or they are independent and will only follow commands for a treat because they do not care to please their handler. This method is best for dogs that have a bonded personality, as they are willing to do things for their handler with only verbal and physical affirmation or the occasional treat.
Next we have Balanced training. With balanced dog training, the dog trainer uses a combination of both reward-based training to shape and reward desired behaviors and corrections for undesired behaviors. A balanced dog trainer does not use corrections out of malice, but as a way to communicate to the dog that they are doing an undesired behavior. This way it makes it very clear to the dog when it is doing something right through rewards and when it is doing something wrong through corrections. If you never tell a human or dog when it’s doing something undesirable, they will never know that it is wrong, because in their mind they are doing something right or desirable through self-affirmation. When it comes to balanced dog training, a dog trainer knows when they need to be humane and when to be firm, dependent on the dog’s personality. As you can see, balanced dog training works for all dog personality types.
Last we have Compulsion training. Compulsion dog training is the oldest form of dog training techniques. Compulsive training involves physically placing dogs into a command by using leash corrections, and manipulation of the dog’s body into the desired position. Once the dog completes the task, then it gets a reward. This type of dog training style can be very aversive to dogs, especially those who have a bonded personality. It can easily shut a dog down to where they are too afraid to do anything. It can, however, be used on dogs that have more of an independent personality type. Still, the dog trainer needs to be very skilled on how to use this method in order to not cause any conflict with the dog.
In conclusion, we can see that both Positive Reinforcement dog training and Compulsion dog training can only be used on a certain dog personality types or number of dogs, as to where Balanced dog training can encompass all dog personality types and number of dogs.
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