Nature provides animals with the ability to recognise rewarding and pleasurable experiences that will help them to survive. For instance in the wild, young predators learn to chase and kill a variety of small animals when they detect their scent, sound, or movement. They also learn what tastes acceptable and what tastes unpleasant or makes them ill.
This instinctive ability to assess what is happening around it is still very strong in the domestic dog. The dog's brain assesses the event or experience to see if it offers the opportunity to -
PLEASANT + SHORT-TERM MEMORY
If the Event is only slightly rewarding the dog will store the experience in it's short-term memory (which seems to be only a couple of days, or a week, at the most). If the dog does not come across a similar Event in that period of time the experience will be forgotten. An example of this is when a dog is being taught a new behaviour and it does not find the initial training very rewarding. If the training is not repeated (and rewarded) on a regular basis then the dog will not retain the behaviour in its long-term memory.
Ideally, when teaching a dog a new behaviour, the dog should be given short sessions of training of only ONE SPECIFIC EXERCISE AT A TIME for a maximum of five repetitions in a session. Three repetitions of an exercise seems to suit many dogs and prevents boredom setting in, leaving the dog wanting to do more for the next training session. This repetition enables the dog to assess the exercise as very rewarding and hence store it in its long-term memory.
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