Dogs are constantly learning, thereby changing their behaviors in accordance with the consequences of those experiences. Puppies are capable of learning simple associations as early as 2 ½ weeks old. This process of learning continues throughout their lives. Every moment, every action, reaction, interaction – in short, every experience – has a cumulative effect on an individual dog’s current and future emotional, mental and behavioral being.
Learning can be defined as a change in behavior due to the consequences of experience. Edward L. Thorndike, an American researcher, explained this in his “Law of Effects” as any behavior that is followed by a pleasing or gainful response will likely be repeated in the future. Any behavior followed by a neutral or aversive response will likely not be repeated. In other words, any continued behavior must have a gain for the individual or it would not be repeatedly displayed. No animal (including humans) wastes energy on behaviors that do not benefit it in some way. This does not mean that it has to be a metaphorical million-dollar payoff, but the behavior must aid the individual in some way, or else it would not be present. That is the law. Dogs, like humans, move towards the greatest “paycheck” they perceive located at the shortest route they perceive.
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“Linda is amazing, both as a trainer and a person. Her knowledge base is unrivaled, as is her ability to translate this knowledge into helpful, usable suggestions for her clients. Her training classes not only support her clients, but also their dogs. Her classes enrich and strengthen the vital trust relationship between dog and owner. This step is missed by many less-experienced trainers. Dogs walk away from her classes with a stronger sense of self control, and composure. Clients walk away from her classes with a better understanding of their beloved canine companions, and a more fulfilling, comfortable relationship with their dogs.”
– Amy Fellner, Certified Veterinary Technician
Veterinary Behavior Technician