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Social learning in dog training: the effectiveness of the Do as I do method compared to shaping/clicker training

By C. Fugazza, A. Miklosi

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Dog training methods traditionally rely on individual learning (mainly operant conditioning). Yet dogs are adept in acquiring information socially and are able to imitate humans. Dogs' predisposition to learn socially has been recently introduced in dog training with the Do as I do method. With this method dogs first learn to match their behaviour to a small set of actions displayed by a human demonstrator on command 'Do it!' and later are able to generalise this rule to use it to learn novel actions. In the present study, we compare the effectiveness of the Do as I do method with that of shaping/clicker training, a method that relies on individual learning, for teaching dogs two different kinds of actions: a body movement and an object-related action. As measures of effectiveness, we use the number of dog-trainer pairs experienced with either method, that succeed in obtaining five performances in a row of the predetermined action within 30 min and the latency to the fifth performance. Additionally, we assess the effect of these training methods on dogs' memory of the trained action and its verbal cue in different contexts. Our results show that the Do as I do method is more effective than shaping/clicker training to teach dogs object-related actions within a relatively short time and suggest that this method might be also applied for training body-movements. Importantly, the use of social learning enhances dogs' memory and generalisation of the learned action and its verbal cue.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 171
Pages 146-151
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.08.033
Language English
Author Address Department of Ethology, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Canidae
  4. Canine
  5. Carnivores
  6. Conditioning
  7. Dogs
  8. Effect
  9. Efficacy
  10. Humans
  11. Mammals
  12. Men
  13. Methodologies
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. predisposition
  16. Primates
  17. Techniques
  18. training
  19. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed