Do As I Do: Using Social Learning to Train Dogs Book


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Train dog based on “social learning”? Yes!

Recent research suggests that dogs can engage in social learning which includes the ability to observe the actions of other dogs and imitate them to learn new behaviors. The big news for dog trainers is that author Claudia Fugazza and her colleagues in Europe have discovered that dogs can also imitate people. This natural skill can be used to teach dogs new behaviors using the Do As I Do protocol presented in this book-DVD combination. The “Do As I Do” method is particularly useful in working with service dogs and canine athletes who must masters skills such as ringing a bell, jumping over a hurdle, spinning and dozens more.

Learn about:

  • The fascinating research which shows that dogs can observe, then imitate human behavior and remember it over time.
  • How you can start with a known behavior, then teach the dog to perform the behavior after observing you demonstrate it, followed by the new cue “Do it!” Eventually the dog learns that “Do it!” means to do
  • whatever has just been demonstrated by the trainer.
  • How this method can build a closer bond between you and your dog, bring new energy and joy to your training efforts and challenge your thinking about how dogs learn.

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

Published– 2014 Dogwise

Reviews- Fugazza brings an exciting blend of science, experience and innovation to this training program. Do As I Do is great for trainers, great for dogs and great for their relationship.
Karen B. London, co-author of Play Together Stay Together

A clearly written protocol for teaching dogs how to imitate their trainer as a new technique to add to the trainer’s tool box. As someone who has studied dog imitation myself, I am pleased to see this available outside scientific circles.
Ken Ramirez, author of Animal Training: Successful Animal Management

It is rare that a groundbreaking new training concept is presented to the dog-training and dog-owning world. Claudia Fugazza not only brings this fascinating training method to the dog world, she does it in a charming and captivating style that simply begs readers to start teaching their dogs to imitate.It’s the next “thing” in dog training – you don’t want to miss it. I predict the Do As I Do method will catch on like wildfire; here at Peaceable Paws we are already incorporating it into our classes, workshops, seminars and academies, and having fantastic fun with it!
Pat Miller, author of Do Over Dogs and How To Foster Dogs

This pioneering book provides trainers with the information they need to try this new method for themselves. This will generate a lot of fun for the participants and further data to expand our understanding of this intriguing concept.
Kathy Sdao, author of Plenty in Life is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace

An important and fun read for anyone interested in dog learning and training. Social learning is for the dogs!
Julie Hecht, MSc Canine Behavioral Researcher, Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, NYC

There have been two types of people in the world. Some of them believe that dogs are not able to imitate humans, other are convinced that dogs readily copy human behaviour. Perhaps this is the place where I should admit that I had belonged to the former group of people for many years before József Topál and I dared to test this idea of imitation in dogs for the first time many years ago. I did not have much to lose – being a non-believer anyway – so it came for me as a huge surprise that Filip, a well-trained assistant Belgian shepherd dog for the disabled, showed clear signs of imitation after some weeks of training.
I also have vivid memories about getting back the reviewers’ comments on our first draft paper describing the Do-as-I-Do method and the impressive results with Filip. Their comments were longer than the manuscript, and of course it was clear that these fellow researchers were non-believers – like me – so it is highly likely that I would have been also critical being in the same situation. But Filip’s performance did not leave room for any doubt! So few years later we managed to train some novice dogs by the means of the same method, so there was no doubt that after some specific training dogs are able to show functional imitation of human behaviour without being specifically educated, like Filip was.

Although I always thought that the Do-as-I-Do method could be a useful way to extend the training of dogs (and owners) but it was Claudia Fugazza’s courage and persistence that was the key factor in developing this new method for the wider dog loving audience. I hope this book is only the first step to introduce the Do-as-I-Do method to dog trainers and dog owners, and I am also sure that Claudia will have many more ideas to develop this method further and further. This book provides a very nice and helpful introduction to the concept of social learning and also explains in detail how the Do-as-I-Do training should be performed.

I was always a bit annoyed that dog training – as the term implies – is focusing on the dog while actually ‘dog training” is or should be about synchronisation of the behaviour of dog and owner. Just like dancing is not about man-training (most women have a natural talent for dancing anyway) but about learning how to move together in a synchronised fashion. The same applies to the Do-as-I-Do method. Owners or trainers become equal partners of their dogs, and they can also experience and feel what the execution of a specific action means for their companion. Relying on the Do-as-I-Do method gives dog training a real social flavour, makes it more enjoyable and more fun.

Apart from this the Do-as-I-Do method also offers an easy way to teach new types of actions with relatively little effort to the dog. They may not be so precise to execute these actions for the first time but they can get the clue. Claudia Fugazza and I also showed that this method is at least as good as other traditional methods of dog training. And there is no need to abandon your old habits, just teach this method to your dog as a complementing way of social interaction.

At the end let me share a new idea with you. Watching puppies how much they want to engage in group activities including to perform similar actions as their group mates, I have come to think that in dogs learning from the other is a basic skill activated very early in development. The main problem is that in most cases, we, humans get them out of this habit by disallowing such activities. Dogs should not dig when the owner is digging or open the refrigerator after seeing the owner doing it! So Do-as-I-Do method simply awakens a natural skill in the dog and puts some human control over his synchronising tendencies. Thus dogs who are allowed to imitate their owner or actually any others, who has some lust to this, have probably a happier life… so let’s go and try… you can do it … as we did!

Dr. Ádám Miklósi Professor of Ethology, author of Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition


~~Recent studies have shown that dogs are able to engage in social learning, meaning that they can observe the actions of other dogs and imitate them. What if we could take this finding one step further and teach dogs to imitate people?

In this book, Claudia Fugazza, shares with us her fascinating research on the subject of social learning. She shows us how to teach your dog to learn new behaviours through imitation, using the Do as I Do protocol.

Fugazza explains the science behind this principle, detailed information on how to use this new training technique, as well as how it can build a closer bond between you and your dog.

A groundbreaking new training method that is rapidly gaining popularity amongst service dog handlers and canine athletes.

In chapter one, Fugazza shares with us a story about how she first learned about the potential of social learning and the Do As I Do protocol.

Chapter two provides an overview of social learning. Fugazza explains what social learning is, and looks at past research that has been done on the subject. She studies the origin and evolution of social cognitive skills in dogs and looks at the difference between social learning and social incentive. Fugazza continues by analysing the four main cognitive variables involved in imitation, these being:

  • Motivation
  • Attention
  • Memorization
  • Replication

She also covers the other social learning processes involved.

Chapter three cover The Do as I Do training protocol. Fugazza explains that this consists of two phases. Before beginning phase one, the dog must undertake some preliminary training, this involves strengthening six existing behaviours, three of which must be under verbal cue. Phase one concentrates on learning the imitation rule, giving us a sequence to follow, and tips for mastering the ‘Do It’ cue, and fading the old cue. Fugazza provides us with some important rules to follow during training, including four golden rules. Phase two is generalising the imitation rule, Fugazza explains when to progress to this stage and what it consists of. She also recommends generalising the imitation rule by using a different person to perform the demonstration and give the command.

Chapter four moves on to training new behaviours. Fugazza shares her experiences of working with her own dog India, and explains how the process for teaching new behaviors remains the same. She also tells us how to put new behaviours under stimulus control. We then hear how she spread the word of the Do as I Do concept, as well as some of the known benefits of this message.

In chapter five, Fugazza provides us with some suggestions if problems arise in each of the following scenarios:

  • Favourite behaviours
  • Poisoned behaviours
  • The dog anticipates
  • The dog gets fatigued or stressed
  • New locations/ environments
  • Distractions

Chapter six shows us how to use Do as I Do as part of an overall training plan. Fugazza explains when Do as I Do training is recommended, in what situations social learning is not always the right choice and if dogs will really remember behaviours, followed by a conclusion.

Also included is an accompanying DVD that illustrates the steps of the protocol with examples that will prove useful when practicing with your own dog.

Widely acclaimed by fellow trainers and critics, Kathy Sdao says; “This pioneering book provides trainers with the information they need to try this new method for themselves. This will generate a lot of fun for the participants and further data to expand our understanding of this intriguing concept.”


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