Social and Imitation Training

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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“Do It” Means “Copy”

“Do As I Do”  has several phases to teach the puppy how to copy our actions.  We must first make sure the puppy knows three commands verbally in addition to their “sit” and “wait”.  We then do short sessions where we teach them the first and main Rule of Imitation.  Precision is key, not repetition, in this type of training.  We are used to training with classical and operant condition, however this type of training starts off socially and then will revert back to classical and operant learning.

Look at Jethro! “Like Me”

Filmed 4/1/17

The Capabilities of Imitation Training

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.  We are excited to add this to our program, and look forward to learning more everyday from…our pups!  Watching and learning how they act in specific situations enables us to learn how to further communicate and teach our puppies.

Milo Learning the Basics

Filmed 12/20/16