Understanding how dogs learn and how they perceive the world is very important in developing a good working relationship with them; but often it’s an overlooked part of the process. I was reminded of that this week by a comment a reader made on my post titled Dogs Don’t Do Guilt – An Open Letter to Good Morning America.
The reader was having problems communicating with her doxies that toileting inside her house was unacceptable. Their solution was to place the doxies in their crate and then place the waste in front of the door of the crate for them to “think about it.” The reader was further puzzled by the fact that the doxies had access to a doggie door which was open 99% of the time.
Although I pointed out that dogs don’t really learn that way, I quickly segued into steps to take in order to housetrain. In retrospect, I wonder if I did them a disservice.
My personality is such that I like to know the details. It helps to keep me on track. If I don’t understand why something works, it’s easier to give up on it if things don’t go exactly as planned. But when I understand the why, each success reinforces my understanding. And when things don’t quite go as planned, I’m more likely to examine my technique as opposed to abandoning the process so easily.
I wonder what your experiences are with this. Is it necessary to understand how a dog learns in order to ensure long term success when changing or creating a new behavior?