We have 2 dogs who got wet in the rain after a walk and my husband while drying them off told them to stop shaking their coats (to dry) as it was messing up the walls. He got a bit ratty as they carried on shaking and I said u cannot stop them shaking and he said that he has stopped them pulling on leads etc and that they should do as they are told. all round . I said that is different that the pulling was learned behaviour but the shaking to dry is natural behaviour and u cannot stop it. He disagrees. Who is right please? Is it possible to train a wet dog to stop shaking water off? This is not a big argument by the way and he also ,like me, loves them to bits. He is a big softie! He just likes them to do as they are told Thank you. I am just intriqued. now, thats all
Sorry for taking so long to reply… As it happens, both you and your husband are right! On the one hand, shaking to dry is indeed a natural and “inevitable” doggie behaviour, almost a reflex action, if you will. On the other hand, dogs can be taught to overcome these impulses: think of dogs trained to balance a biscuit on their noses, overcoming the natural urge to devour it in one gulp until given the command to eat it. To train dogs – and most animals – the best method is called “positive reinforcement”, which means rewarding the animal for doing the ‘right’ thing (what we want it to do), rather than punishing it for doing the wrong thing. Training the dog in stages works best, e.g.: you could train it to shake on command while dry (messing up the fur on the neck a little first helps get it started), rewarding it immediately after shaking until the dog does this when it hears the command. Then training it to do this outside when wet would be the next step. There are lots of books on positive reinforcement training available. Training is great fun for both you and the dogs and a great bonding experience. Hope this helps!
I know this reply is massively late, but I disagree with you slightly here, Carlos...to a certain extent, impulses can be overcome through training - as you say, by teaching self-control, for example in the presence of food. However, instinctive reflex reactions can't be overcome through training - and shaking when wet is a reflex reaction. Have you ever tried keeping your eyes open when someone lunges towards your face quickly? Blinking is a reflex reaction in this situation that you can't control.
There are some behaviours that are inbuilt, that no amount of training can remove them. For example, my sister's border collie will stalk a toy all day, even though he has never been taught or encouraged to do this - it is a hardwired behaviour in his breed.
However, I completely agree that positive reinforcement is the right way to teach animals - having seen the amazing results my mum has produced using clicker training and shaping with her dogs for the last few years, I wouldn't want to train any other way. It is so rewarding to see their brains tick as they figure out what you are asking them to do, and they learn so quickly and so happily!
Last edited by Rachel Jennings (5th Jul 2011 19:38:49)
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