Nature has given dogs (and other animals) the ability to assess experiences in a fraction of a second to determine whether the information gained from their senses is either -
a rewarding event that will help the dog to survive.
threatening to the dog's safety or well-being
or is neither of the above and therefore trivial and irrelevant to the dog's survival.
However, as we will see by following the various parts of the flow chart in Memory, each dog's perceptions of the same Event can be totally different depending on -
its breeding and working instincts (eg. Scent hounds have been bred by humans to suppress their sight/movement instincts and concentrate more on scent messages; sight hounds have been bred to do the reverse).
whether the dog is stressed. Long-term stress creates too high a level of adrenalin which effects the dog's ability to concentrate, making it categorise the Event incorrectly (usually putting the Event in either the "Forgotten" or the "Threat" category). Stress also effects the dog's senses by making them far more acute and sensitive than usual. This causes the dog to be far more reactive to what is going on around it and make it more judgmental than it needs to be.
whether the dog has had the time and opportunity to fully assess the event that has just occurred and categorise it correctly (see latent learning).
Latent learning has the opposite effect to stress. The dog has the opportunity to assess the Event calmly, without distractions, clearly see the benefits (or drawbacks) from the consequences of the Event, and store the environmental photo in its long-term memory. This is why latent learning is such a powerful tool when training a dog.
This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).
Dog-Games Copyright 2004 - 2015 All Rights Reserved