Whether you’re an experienced dog owner or a new owner interested in dog training in Toronto, there’s something you need to realize: dogs are not humans. Although dogs may come across as possessing rationality, emotion, and logic, they don’t. This isn’t to say that dogs and puppies are devoid of understanding and feeling, but they simply do not have the mental capability to process human thinking. Unfortunately, this often results in frustration for dog and puppy owners and even dog trainers.
The truth is, dogs and puppies can be conditioned, but they don’t understand the conditioning process as humans do. As Pavlov’s famous “dog experiment” shows, a dog can be made to salivate at the ring of a bell, even if food is not present. The dog does not understand why it does what it does, but it does it anyway. The dog is simply reacting to a stimulus presented before it; it knows nothing different. This means that training a puppy or a dog should not be carried out through an attempt at rationalizing as the dog does not comprehend the rational process.
Another example of this is when a smaller dog barks its head off at a much larger dog or other creature. As humans, we understand the dynamics that come into play when physical threats represent a disproportionate situation. A dog or puppy, on the other hand, is reacting naturally based upon instinct. There is no serious thought process that tells the canine that it would be best served by avoiding such a risk.
As such, dog owners and those starting out with puppies must recognize that canines are not capable of processing the complex abilities that humans enjoy. When training a puppy, the owner needs to do so in a manner that recognizes the dog for what it is: an animal that is unable to recall the past or imagine the future. Instead, the dog lives within the moment, only able to process what is occurring now. As mentioned, dogs do learn, and puppies can be trained, but this process is not made of logic. Instead, lessons are learned through trial and error, and the dog or puppy is creating behaviors based upon conditioning rather than logic.
Another frustration that puppy owners run into is the effect of language on a canine. While dogs are able to seemingly learn basic commands, they are not able to understand why these commands are being taught or are in place. As such, a dog may learn to sit, roll over, or fetch, but it is only acting out of conditioning and instinct. It has no idea or understanding of why it must do what it is told, but it does know that it must respond to such commands. This is simply the dog showing that it does not think in the way that humans do, but rather, it is a being that needs direction in order to function.
Because of this, puppy owners and trainers need to remember that discipline is a key component in a dog’s life. While you certainly want to provide food, shelter, affection, and exercise for your puppy, discipline is a core component in raising a puppy to become a dog that is truly happy. Many people seeking puppy training search for professionals who include discipline in their classes because discipline is what drives canines. Keep in mind that what is considered discipline to humans, meaning denial of pleasure. This also applies to dogs through withdrawal of rewards, but also through, “Positive punishment”, the employment of a correction. As mentioned, the canine species has an innate desire to be told what to do and how to do it, and dogs derive pleasure from servitude from their masters.