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Could you become a dog trainer?

The critical socialisation phase in puppies is before about:

  • 5 weeks
  • 12 weeks
  • 22 weeks
  • 12 months

The right age to start training a dog is?

  • Over the age of three years
  • At six months
  • As soon as possible, for example, eight weeks
  • Dogs don’t really need training

This dog is yawning because he is:

  • Tired
  • Full of mischief
  • Bored
  • Stressed

A dog that barks and lunges in a training class may be:

  • Discordant
  • Showing signs of stress
  • Being disobedient
  • Dominant

A clicker is used in dog training to:

  • Instruct the dog what to do
  • Cue the dog to perform a behaviour
  • Mark the correct behaviour
  • Reward the correct behaviour

Used properly, a clicker is a:

  • A primary reinforcer
  • A conditioned reinforcer
  • A negative reinforcer
  • A terminatory reinforcer

‘Shaping’ is:

  • Training by ‘successive approximation’
  • Training with tiny pieces of food
  • Training by placing the dog into position with your hands
  • Training with verbal cues only

A ‘jackpot’ reward is where:

  • The dog gains self-reinforcement only
  • The dog selects random behaviours and gets rewarded for them
  • The handler gives a bigger or better quantity or quality of reinforcer
  • The dog gets only one type of reinforcer

The 'Premack Principle' states:

  • More probable behaviours will reinforce less probable behaviours
  • High value rewards should never be given before lower value rewards
  • Dogs will always revert to previous behaviours if they can
  • Negative reinforcement is always more effective than positive reinforcement

Pavlov’s research using dogs is famous for demonstrating:

  • Classical conditioning
  • Operant conditioning
  • Neutral conditioning
  • Contra-conditioning

Your Answers

  • Question
  • Your Answer
  • Correct Answer
  • 1

    The critical socialisation phase in puppies is before about:

  • 12 weeks
  • Detailed Answer:

    Research studies tell us that if puppies don’t have the chance to meet and mix with people and other dogs before the age of 12 weeks, their social development can be seriously impaired. This is not to say that the ‘window’ of social learning suddenly closes at 12 weeks, but it shows how much the breeder and early life experiences matter to each and every puppy.

  • 2

    The right age to start training a dog is?

  • As soon as possible, for example, eight weeks
  • Detailed Answer:

    It wasn’t such a long time ago that we were led to believe that dogs shouldn’t be trained until 6 months of age – in fact a few dog clubs still maintain this old-fashioned rule! However, we now recognise that this limitation said more about the type of training that was being offered, rather than a dog’s ability to learn. Puppies of 5 weeks’ can be trained to ask to go out, respond on cue to basic commands, come when called and know their names. With gentle, modern methods of training there’s simply no excuse for waiting, so get started as soon as you can!

  • 3

    This dog is yawning because he is:

  • Stressed
  • Detailed Answer:

    Like humans, dogs yawn for many different reasons. They may be bored, or tired. Or they may be frustrated, excited, or stressed. The dog in this image is showing signs of stress, and you can tell this because of his other body language signals. His ears are back, he has a slight ‘worry frown’ and his tongue is extended. Learning to read the subtleties of dog body language is an essential component of good training, because a stressed dog will find it much more difficult to learn.

  • 4

    A dog that barks and lunges in a training class may be:

  • Showing signs of stress
  • Detailed Answer:

    The most common cause of what many owners might regard as ‘bad behaviour’ in training classes is stress. The dog simply doesn’t know how to deal with the environment, the proximity of other dogs, or his or her owner’s demands, and behaves in a way that may look like ‘naughtiness’ but is in fact an attempt to deflect the situation, to get away or get others to move away. A dog that is using defensive strategies in a class situation, such as lunging or barking is really crying out for help.

  • 5

    A clicker is used in dog training to:

  • Mark the correct behaviour
  • Detailed Answer:

    A clicker is used to specifically mark the correct behaviour. I like to think of it like a tick next to a correct sum. It says, “You’ve done the right thing. A reward is coming.”

    The marker doesn’t have to be an actual clicker. It can be a word (that’s not used in everyday language), or a visual signal.

  • 6

    Used properly, a clicker is a:

  • A conditioned reinforcer
  • Detailed Answer:

    Used correctly, the clicker is a conditioned reinforcer. Another name for this is a ‘secondary reinforcer’. This is a stimuli which is not reinforcing in itself – instead, the conditioned reinforcer gets paired with a primary reinforcer (something which is inherently reinforcing, such as food or play with toys), and so becomes associated with good things.

  • 7

    ‘Shaping’ is:

  • Training by ‘successive approximation’
  • Detailed Answer:

    Shaping is the technique of training by successive approximation. In other words, any tiny step which takes us towards a target behaviour is reinforced. We then reinforce behaviours which more and more closely resemble the end goal, or target behaviour. Shaping is a great way to train behaviours in dogs – it allows for experimentation and because no ‘aversives’ are used, it is fun too.

  • 8

    A ‘jackpot’ reward is where:

  • The handler gives a bigger or better quantity or quality of reinforcer
  • Detailed Answer:

    A jackpot is the term most often used to describe a bigger or better quantity, or quality of reinforcer. So, a trainer might spontaneously give a handful of treats, instead of just one, when the dog reaches a target behaviour goal.

    Research is conflicting as to whether ‘jackpots’ actually have a genuinely bigger effect on the animal’s behaviour than ‘standard’ amounts and quality of reinforcer. But it probably makes us feel good!

  • 9

    The 'Premack Principle' states:

  • More probable behaviours will reinforce less probable behaviours
  • Detailed Answer:

    The Premack Principle. A big name for a relatively straight-forward idea that more probable behaviours (such as eating ice cream) will reinforce less probable behaviours (eating broccoli). However, as with many principles in learning theory, real-life may not be quite so straight-forward. For example, I may hate broccoli so much that I’m prepared to forego ice cream for it, or I may sneak to the freezer and steal a few mouthfuls of ice cream when no one’s looking!

  • 10

    Pavlov’s research using dogs is famous for demonstrating:

  • Classical conditioning
  • Detailed Answer:

    Of course, Pavlov’s research beautifully illustrates classical conditioning. This is a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired: in Pavlov’s case, he presented a metronome just prior to giving his research dogs food. He noticed that the dogs started to salivate just on hearing the metronome alone. Classical conditioning is a useful (and under-used!) technique in dog training and behaviour and it’s worth exploring more about this fascinating subject with deeper study.

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