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What's in a word? A review of the attributes of a command affecting the performance of pet dogs

Mills, Daniel S. (2005) What's in a word? A review of the attributes of a command affecting the performance of pet dogs. Anthrozoos, 18 (3). pp. 208-221. ISSN 0892-7936

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279305785594108

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What's in a word? A review of the attributes of a command affecting the performance of pet dogs
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Abstract

The training of dogs usually involves the building of an association between a command word and a given behavior through reinforcement. Whilst the importance of applied learning theory in this process is widely recognized, there has been less emphasis in the scientific literature on the equally important role of interspecific communication in the learning of an instruction. A command is not a simple discriminative stimulus, and involves both verbal and non-verbal signals. It is also frequently offered in a variety of environmental contexts, which affect its contiguity and the perceived contingency between the verbal element of the message and its consequences during learning. Species-specific behavioral tendencies in human trainers, and perceptual biases in the canine trainee have been shown empirically to affect performance. There are many paralingual aspects to the communication which is involved in the training process; vocalics refers to the non-verbal vocal sounds involved, and it has been shown that short rising, higher pitched notes are more effective at eliciting motor activity during dog training. Other aspects of non-verbal communication at this time including kinesics - body language (especially oculesics - eye position and activity), physical appearance and proxemics - the structuring of the space at the time of instruction, and they have also been shown to affect canine performance. In addition, it would seem that dogs may not generalize the learning of commands as readily as is frequently implied in many texts. This has obvious implications for both the welfare and training of dogs, and deserves consideration in the training of other species.

Keywords:Canis familiaris
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:9075
Deposited On:06 May 2013 12:15

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