September 4, 2013, by khyx2lyn

How to Train a Puppy

Psychology is not only as an interesting subject to study; the theories that we learn from it can also be witnessed or applied to almost every event in our daily lives. From attempting to understand the mystery behind mental disorders, to the way we perceive visual illusions, researchers have been trying to understand human behavior since years and years ago.

When I first have a pet puppy, named Hey Hey, I was fascinated by the dogs that were trained to perform different commands and were disciplined so well. Without much knowledge of how to train a dog, I recalled some of the simple theories that I have learned from my degree, such as the famous classical conditioning first suggested by Ivan Pavlov. So, I started by simply awarding my puppy with snacks and praises whenever it follows the commands, and this was done through a series of repetitions. Hey Hey quickly grasped the idea, and associated rewards to the actions he made based on the commands. Now Hey Hey can perform up to three different actions even without any snacks given as rewards. Whenever, he did something that is wrong such as chewing on slippers, or dragging rubbish into the house, I would raise my voice or give him a gentle smack on the butt. From these experiences, Hey Hey is now able to associate the negative reinforcements to actions that were deemed as wrong, and this reduces the chances of him misbehaving.

As a result, what I realized from this experience is that Pavlov’s (1927) theory of classical conditioning posits the perfect method to train a desirable and “smart” dog, by pairing a conditioned stimulus (e.g. snacks, praises) to an unconditioned stimulus (e.g. actions such as sit or to give a high five). So now who said that psychology is only about reading people’s minds?

Christine Leong,
(PhD Student, School of Psychology, UNMC)


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