What is Classical Conditioning and how does it work?
Classical Conditioning is a relatively new concept in the world of dog training. Where previous methods of training included applying force and corrections to achieve a desired result, Classical Conditioning utilizes a combination of luring, shaping, and marking desired behaviors in order to create a positive association with a desired behavior. It is quite simple, really. Like most animals, dogs learn through a process of association. By simply associating a desired behavior with a well-timed reward, a dog will effectively learn which actions are expected of it and when. This style of training is quickly gaining popularity due to its gentle, yet extremely effective, method of teaching. Shelter dogs, aggressive dogs, and shy dogs benefit the most from Classical Conditioning above all other methods of training, and by partaking in this type of training program, any dog can have a considerably higher chance of finding a home and living happily as a member of a family.
Terms You Will Hear
During your training sessions, you will hear a number of terms regarding the Classical Conditioning process. Here are a few terms that you should become familiar with:
Cue – A command given to incite a response from the dog. For example, “Sit” and “Stay” are two of the most commonly used cues in dog training.
Reward/Motivator – Something that the dog desires that will incite a positive association with performing a given cue. Commonly used rewards include teats, food, favorite toys, attention, and playtime.
Reward-Marker – A sound that marks the exact moment the dog makes the decision to perform a given cue and lets the dog know that they will be rewarded. A Reward-Marker can be a click from a clicker, or delivered verbally as a word or sound. “Yes” and “Good” are commonly used Reward-Markers.
No-Reward-Marker – A sound that indicates to the dog that they have not completed what was asked, and the opportunity for reward is removed until they decide to perform the given task. “Uh-oh” and “Nope” are commonly used No-Reward-Markers.