Dogs have a lot of potential, but it’s not easy to teach them the skills they need to be able to work effectively in the wild, according to new research from the University of Melbourne.
Key points:Dogs train for tasks such as running, jumping, and pulling sleds, but also for other tasks such at a house, in a car, and at a park”Training is so complex, and we can only teach a few skills at a time, it’s very hard to train a dog to be a professional dog handler,” says Professor John Groshen, of the University’s Department of Psychology.
“We’re talking about a human’s pet, or a dog, so they need the training that we give them.
But they don’t need to know everything.”
There’s a big gap in our knowledge about how dogs and humans learn.
So if we can develop better ways of training and better methods of teaching, that would really help.
“A dog trainer with the Australian National University (ANU) has developed a new technique to help train dogs for different tasks, and the research could help to address the need for professional dog handlers in the future.
Professor John Grazens work is focused on how dogs train in the first place, and how to improve their ability to train for different kinds of tasks.
Dr Grazen said dogs were trained to perform tasks like running, climbing and pulling a sleds or a car to keep the dog’s body moving, but in the past, the way dogs trained was a bit different to how we train them.”
The idea is that we have to work out how the dog needs to perform that task, what it looks like and how it interacts with the environment,” he said.”
To do that, we have a whole training set up for the dog, a whole set of behaviours that we teach the dog to do and it’s just a matter of understanding how the training system works.
“For example, we would teach a dog that it’s good to get on its hind legs, that it needs to do that sort of thing, that the dog will do it.”
The ANU researchers have developed a method called an operant conditioning approach that helps train dogs to perform complex tasks by gradually increasing the number of trials a dog is given.
They used a series of six different trials in which a dog was taught to sit on the ground and perform tasks that involved pulling a car seat and pushing a button, then increasing the amount of time the dog spent on each trial.
“These are the tasks that are really hard for us to train with a human.
We’ve developed a system that we’ve adapted for dogs, called an animal behavioural theory, where the dog is trained to complete a task using a set of actions, rather than just one action,” Dr Grazs said.
He said dogs have a great deal of control over their behaviour, and if they were trained on these specific tasks, it would be difficult to teach a person how to do them.
Dr John Gromens work involves learning how to train dogs in various ways, such as jumping, jumping on cars, and climbing, and using this to develop a set-up that is effective for the individual dog.
“It’s not just about training the dog; it’s about the dog training the person,” he explained.
“With our methods we have the dogs training themselves and we have them learning to work together, and they learn to cooperate with us.”
They learn how to work with us and learn how not to work, so the training and the social skills are really important.
“Dr Grosen said that although there was a lot that a dog trainer could learn from a dog in terms of how to learn, the training method was the only one that really worked for the trained dog.
He also said that if the human was in charge of the training, then it was more important to give the dog a proper introduction to the new techniques.”
You’re training the human in a way that the dogs are just learning what they need, which is a lot more difficult than if you are the dog and the human are just training together,” Dr John Grosens said.
Dr Hao Wang, the study’s senior author, said that while the method was promising, it could be improved.”
In terms of its application, I think the main issue with the approach is that it requires a lot from the dog that we don’t have in the way of socialisation, which in some cases can be very challenging,” Dr Wang said.