We all learn socially every day of our life, so why would our dogs not be doing the same? Guess what, they are! Science has proven that our dog’s have a predisposition to socially learn from each other and they socially learn from humans. Dog’s as people do, will learn items that are easy individually, and items that are hard or risky, they learn better socially.
For example you may be learning a new dance, and you have taught yourself the basic steps. There is just a part that you can not figure out how to do, so you watch someone else do the difficult steps. You learn from watching how they do it. You have a lesser risk of failing as you are learning from those who know how to perform the dance steps. This is social learning. For our puppies we train by play, and that play forces them into numerous situations where social learning takes place. There is always a puppy that shows resistance to going through the tunnel, yet when they watch their siblings, or even I have gone through to show them it is no big deal, they quickly will try and master the task.
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We begin teaching the puppies as soon as they arrive by watching television! They simply watch other puppies following the commands of sitting, laying, waiting, and more. After just a few short sessions, many will be sitting on command in just a short time. This concept of teaching actually “sticks” with a puppy quicker and longer. It is much easier for the puppy to generalize the command than just by standard luring.
The possibilities of what can be taught to a puppy or dog with this type of training are endless. Once the puppy knows the Rule of Imitation then old behaviors can be perfected and new behaviors taught. The phases of the training are complex however for dog’s moving to forward to be assistance dogs this will open a whole new area.