For those who have read my about me page, you won’t be surprised to learn that I have always been into dogs and their training. As a student at school, I always tried to make my assignments about dogs where possible.
I remember doing Stage 2 Psychology in school, and how immensely easy learning theory was. I was doing this already when I was training dogs! We had an oral presentation on three aspects of learning (classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and modelling), and I chose to base mine on dogs.
While classical conditinoinng and operant conditioning was easy to talk about, I had difficulty finding examples of modelling in dogs. To this day, I still struggle to find examples.
That’s probably why I was so excited to find this video (shared by PuppyTales – thanks!). It shows a young puppy who is hesitant to go down a small flight of steps. An adult dog walks past a number of times and the puppy eventually follows suit and descends the steps himself:
This video is getting a lot of publicity for the cute factor, but I am more interested in how the puppy demonstrates an understanding of the adult dog’s behaviour, and how it relates to their own. Obviously, there are other factors in play for this puppy descending the steps, as well, but at least part of the puppy’s success is related to the adult dog’s descent.
So, I want to ask, when have you seen a dog model behaviour of another dog? Do you use modelling to train dogs? I look forward to your responses!
Strangely, today Stanley Coren posted a very similar post on his blog! Read “Dogs Learn by Modelling the Behavior of Other Dogs“.