What’s It About?
Social learning means acquiring new behaviours from the observation of others. Recent studies revealed the social cognitive abilities of dogs and suggested that they are surprisingly predisposed to learn socially from humans.
Do as I Do is a new training method based on dogs’ social cognitive skills, particularly on their imitative ability. With this training technique dogs will learn new behaviours observing and copying their owners. During the seminar Claudia describes how to teach dogs the “imitation rule” and how to progress through the training protocol. Dogs will first be taught to imitate a small set of familiar actions (actions already trained with traditional techniques) and will then generalize this rule. At the end of the training protocol, the owners will be able to teach new behaviours to their dogs, simply showing them what to do. These new actions will be then put under verbal cue. The cognitive abilities implied in social learning and in this training method are also described.
This is the first training method based on dog’s social cognitive abilities.
About the Author
Claudia Fugazza is a PhD student in Ethology at Eötvös Lorand University (Budapest), conducting her research on social learning and imitation in dogs with Prof. A. Miklosi. She received her B.Sc. on Dog Breeding and Education (TACREC), a Master in Ethology of Companion Animals and a Master in Dog Training at the University of Pisa (Italy). Claudia developed a training method called Do as I Do (named after Hayes & Hayes 1952 and Topal et al. 2006) which relies on dog’s social cognitive skills and she is currently using this method both for applied dog training purposes and as preliminary training to scientifically study dogs’ imitative abilities.
Released- 2013 Tawzer Dog
Running time- 8 hours, 19 minutes
IN DEPTH REVIEW
Most trainers are familiar with the range of positive reinforcement techniques available for training new behaviours. These methods, which include shaping, luring and clicker training, are all types of associative learning techniques where the dog learns to expect one thing when they see or experience another– for example, click, reward. Do as I Do is the first training method based on using the dog’s cognitive abilities, which science has shown is their preferred way of learning.
In this DVD, Claudia Fugazza, PhD student in Ethology at Eötvös Lorand University (Budapest), who is conducting research on social learning and imitation in dogs, introduces us to the Do as I Do method and explains how to teach it in a two-day seminar presentation. This method utilises the dog’s imitative ability, which they are socially predisposed to possess, enabling them to learn new behaviours by simply copying what their owners do. Fugazza describes how to introduce the ‘imitation rule’, starting with a small set of known behaviours and progressing to teaching brand new behaviours, by just demonstrating them to the dog first.
This method has proved to very successful and has a wealth of positive benefits. It is a fantastic addition to any trainer’s toolbox.
Fugazza begins by explaining what social learning is. She defines it as the acquisition of information or behaviours from the observation or interaction with others. She continues to add how it differs from other methods of learning, describing it’s relationship with individual and species-typical behaviours, which she also goes on to define. Fugazza explains that scientific theories argue that only humans possess the intelligence to imitate, elaborating on why she believes that this is not actually true. Instead of intelligence, which Fugazza explains can’t be measured, she focuses on cognitive abilities which can more easily be compared between species.
Fugazza continues to further explain her definition of social learning, studying the concept of culture which she describes as information that is socially transmitted. She also looks at characteristics that may limit or favour the transmission of information among individuals. Fugazza then introduces us to a study of wolves and dogs designed to examine the effects of domestication on problem solving. She explains that this research found that dogs will look to humans for help whereas wolves do not. Fugazza looks at various other research projects including experiments to test species cognitive behaviour, the detour task to test if dogs would copy a human demonstrator, before finally examining the first major social learning experiment with dogs. This involved a narcotics search dog who had a litter of puppies. Half of these puppies were taken to work with their mother while the other half stayed at home. Researchers then looked at which set of puppies were quicker at learning the job of sniffer dog. The findings of these experiments showed that social learning is actually a dog’s preferred method of learning a new behaviour.
Fugazza then introduces us to the Do as I Do training protocols. This method has its roots in a study done in the 1950s involving chimps. Similar studies with dogs were carried out in 2006. Fugazza discusses the results of these studies which basically showed that dogs possess imitative abilities. She then shows us a video demonstrating the Do as I Do method in action, explaining how it works. She also introduces us to the concept of functional imitation, which she defines as ‘when the dog reaches the same goal given using species typical behaviour’. Fugazza continues to elaborate on how Do as I Do became a training method, taking us through each of the training protocols in detail. The basic aim of the method is to teach the dog that ‘Do it’ means to copy the behaviour that the trainer demonstrates. Training consists of three phases:
- The dog must learn to copy behaviour demonstrated. The dog is first taught to do this by using behaviours that he already knows
- The dog must learn to generalise this rule to all behaviour
- Once the dog understands the first two rules you can start to use this method to train new behaviour.
Fugazza then explains phase one in depth, giving us important rules to follow as well as answering questions from the audience. She also mentions how this method can be used with a deaf dog.
In part two of the DVD we watch a practical demonstration of Fugazza helping the seminar participants to teach their dogs phase one of the Do as I Do method. She then goes back to theory, explaining when to move on to the second phase, generalisation. Fugazza shows us how to do this by adding three more behaviours, using a video example to demonstrate and including important rules to follow. She also takes a look at how to use this method to teach sequences of behaviour.
In Part 3 Fugazza continues by examining further how the Do as I Do method uses social learning to acquire new information. She also discusses imitation and social influence and argues that that by observing someone else perform a behaviour it is not necessarily enough for an individual to learn it. Fugazza then focuses on what she describes as contagious behaviours that dogs often copy, such as barking and yawing.
Next, Fugazza studies the effect of local enhancement and stimulus enhancement as well as examining functional imitation, two action procedures, goal emulation and mimicking. She then continues with the practical demonstration from the day before, helping the participants teach phase A.
In part 4 Fugazza continues with the practical demonstration shown in part 3.
In part 5 Fugazza explains the importance of passing the first two phases before you can use this method to train new behaviour. Fugazza discusses adding cues, also looking in more detail at how and who dogs copy. She compares this to social learning strategies in the human world, adding that we tend to copy high status individuals.
Fugazza moves on to look at when we should use the Do As I Do method. She lists some of the benefits which includes:
- Improving the attention of the dog to the owner
- Exercises the dog’s social cognitive abilities which associative learning does not.
- It is another tool for the training box
Fugazza then takes some time to discuss her own research plans. She explains these consist of two studies focusing on cognitive abilities and two studies on how to apply the dog’s imitative abilities in dog training.
Finally, she helps one of the seminar participants move on to the second phase with their dog before answering a variety of questions from audience.
This DVD shows you a fun and interesting new way of training and interacting with your dog. It covers both the theory and practical side to help you understand and become proficient in implementing this intriguing method.