Part A: Dogs show many normal and abnormal behaviour in their lives. Abnormal behaviour is a behaviour that the dog would not normally do such as digging. When dogs get neutered, it can cause abnormal behaviour such as humping everything they see in sight such as cushions, stuffed animals and people’s legs. There are many reasons why neutered dogs will hump things within their sight. This can be because of non-sexual play when they are puppies, socially interacting with other dogs when they reach sexual maturity, to relief stress and a sign of urinary tract problems. An another abnormal behaviour in dogs is digging holes in the garden.
This can be because they are escaping from anxiety and seperation issues, sounds from beneath them, the heat in summer, instinctive behaviour such as prey or food, to hide food in somewhere sheltered and it is the mating behaviour for females and this is natural. Normal behaviour is a behaviour that the dog normally does such as chewing. Dogs chew and it is very natural for them. This behaviour occurs as a dog examines the world with its mouth and it may chew on an object out of curiousity. Puppies chew objects because they have a lot to examine in the world but they are growing their adult teeth and chewing helps to relieve the pain of their sore gums. An adult dog will chew when they are bored/ excited and destructive. Another normal behaviour in dogs is biting. Puppies nip at other dogs or people when they are learning their place within the pack or family.
This is a normal behaviour however, when the bititng goes beyond puppyhood and becomes harmful then it is an abnormal behaviour. Most dogs bite when pain occurs, feeling threatened by an animal or person and guarding their territory. These behaviours can be harmful however it is natural. Some dogs will display dominance aggression which makes them dangerous. Viligance from the owner, responsible practices for breeding, training the dog when it is a puppy and socialization can reduce the problem of biting. Associative behaviour is a learning process that new responses become associated with a stimulus. The type of learning is simple because it broadens the opportunity for the animal to behave. This can be associated with different places and conditions to do with the risks of predators.
This can help with abnormal behaviour as you can teach the dog the correct way to behave and you can repeat this many times in various places and conditions so that the dog is learning. An example of this is training the dog not to bite that every time it stops biting you use a training clicker and treats and over time the dog will learn to stop biting when it sees the clicker. It can also help with normal behaviour as you can continue to train the dog the correct behaviour it is displaying in various conditions and environments and use a stimulus that the dog can associate the behaviour with. An example of this is rewarding the dog with treats by clicking the clicker every time it performs the correct behaviour and then over time the animal will learn to not bite you when it sees the clicker.
Non-associative behaviour is called Habituation and this is a loss of response given to a stimulus when the same stimulus has been given repeatedly. Animals are likely to habituate in response to a weak stimulus being used, a stimulus of less importance being used and the same stimulus being used when training the dog to do a certain behaviour. Most animals need to hibituate a stimulus when the stimulus is in large amounts, if they need to focus on what is important for surviving. An example of this that some animals are able to focus on the alarm calls which are made by other animals so that they are getting protection from predators. There can be impacts of inappropriate reinforcement.
Negative reinforcement is like punishment as reinforcement can be achieved by taking something away from their environment. To reinforce the dog’s behaviour through negative punishment, the owner removes something that the dog doesn’t like. Depending on the dog’s behaviour and experience plus the choices of the dog’s trainer, the punishment can vary from a verbal response to placing a cruel stimulus around the dog’s neck such as a tightened prong collar. Punishment has always been part of animal training and this has been since animals live closely with people. Using training techniques which are based on fear or pain have been used long-term but it might not be the best option for the animal’s welfare and how successiveful it is. Training a dog using techniques based on fear or pain has a number of risks which include: increasing a dog’s fear or anxiety due to the situation that it is used in, decreaes the chance of the dog learning, associating other events with a distressing event, causing confusion to which behaviour is required by the dog and causing physical injuries. Since there are training techniques used which do not cause the use of harsh punishment, there is no point in using techniques that impact on the welfare of dogs as it can cause severe behavioural issues such as nervousness or aggression. The safety and effectiveness when using reward based training techniques must be taken into account.
To suppress a behaviour in dogs, the basic level of punishment needs to be of decent severity to be able to supress a behaviour and avoid the behaviour from coming back. This can lead to problems of determining and administering the correct level of punishment which is high to suppress the behaviour but not too high that it causes long-term fear or anxiety response in individual dogs. Part b: There are plenty of ways that learning theory can be used to develop management strategies to modify behaviour in animals as LIMA has requirements that trainers and behaviour consultants must follow when using the LIMA technique as it will make it more likely that you will achieve a training or behaviour objective and minimize the risk of producing adverse side effects in animals successively. Associative behaviour can affect the LIMA technique that trainers and consultants use on animals as animals that have short lifespans tend not to use associate learning and different animals learning in different ways as some animals will be able to go straight to an object that it has associated a behaviour to whereas others will search systemically for the object instead of going straight to the object that it has been taught to go to. Associative behaviour is a simple type of learning When it comes to using the LIMA technique, positive reinforcement is the first line when it comes to training the LIMA way.
This could mean that handling and petting using various tools and environments are assessed by the handler each time before training and the measure of each stimulus used is whether the learner’s target behaviour is strengthening or weakening. When it comes to clarity and consistency in problem solving from the LIMA technique, the trainer or behaviour consultant has to make it clear to the animal what you are wanting the animal to do when you are training them e.g. you need to make it clear when training a dog if you want the dog to sit or lie down. If the methods that you are using need to be changed due to behaviour developments than you must continue using the LIMA technique. However, when it comes to ethical use of this technique then you must be dependent on the consultant or trainer’s ability to problem solve and to understand his or her actions on the animal they are training and a trainer or behaviour consultant must have sensitivity towards the animal’s experience. The LIMA guidelines require that consultants and trainers are to offer the subject as much control and choice as possible during the learning process and they are to treat each individual of any species with respect and awareness of the animal’s individual nature and needs.
There are two types of schedules of reinforcement depending on what behaviour you are looking to reinforce in an animal. The first schedule of reinforcement is continuous schedule of reinforcement and the second is intermittent schedule of reinforcement. Continuous reinforcement schedules are used more often when teaching new behaviours to an animal while intermittent reinforcement schedules are used to maintain previously learned behaviour by an animal. continuous reinforcement occurs when reinforcement is delivered after every single target behaviour whereas in intermittent schedules of reinforcement, some behaviours or responses get a reinforcement but it is never after each behaviour or response is shown by the animal. There are four basic types of intermittent schedules of reinforcement and these are fixed- ratio schedule, a fixed interval schedule, a variable- ratio schedule and a variable interval schedule. Conditioning is the building of a learned association between two events so associative learning is associating certain actions with certain outcomes. Associative learning is a simple type of learning that increases the animal’s opportunity to behave more efficiently. Classical conditioning can be defined as a type of learning where a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a reflexive response that was put in place by a different stimulus.
An example of this is classical conditioning in Pavlov’s dogs as he presented his dogs with meat powder and the dogs began to salivate. He then paired the meat powder with a bell and after many pairings, the dogs began to salivate when they just heard the bell. Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which a controllable and non-reflexive behaviour is strengthened if it is reinforced and then weakened if it is punished or not reinforced. An example of this is Skinner’s box in 1938. Skinner used a shaping technique which was the rat approached the lever then sniffed the lever and then learning to touch the lever and then the rat pressed the lever. The rat’s behaviour is shaped by the continuous changing requirements for reward. Operant conditioning can be used to find out how hard an animal will work for a reward.
Animal training through operant conditioning involves reinforcement and punishment. Both reinforcement and punishment can be positive or negative. When an animal is learning through operant conditioning, the trainer can use positive reinforcement to encourage a preferred behaviour such as using praise, a toy or food. Police and drug dog handlers use play when rewarding their dogs for the preferred behaviour. The reward that is given to the animal has to be sufficient enough to motivate the animal to repeat the behaviour and the reward must be instant. Social learning is the learning that requires more than one animal and not all animals will be able to learn socially.
There are many benefits of social learning such as copying another member of the group reduces time that is spent doing trial and error as the trial and error method could go wrong with some animals. Choosing a mate is part of social learning as if a female observes a potential mate then another female is more likely to choose that mate as she will learn from the observing female that the male is a good male to mate with. Non- associative learning also known as habituation is the loss of response to a stimulus when the stimulus is given repeatedly. Animals are most likely to habituate in response to a weak stimulus, a less important stimuli, a stimulus given repeatedly or a frequent stimulus. Animals need to habituate stimuli when they are given large amounts of stimuli or they need to focus on what is more important for survival. An example of this is animals can focus on alarm calls made by other animals to protect themselves from predators. I agree to some extent that learning behaviour in animals can be used to develop some management strategies that will modify behaviour in animals by using the LIMA technique as it has certain requirements that trainers and behaviourists must follow before they start training an animal.
I think that not being able to advise on a behaviour or training issue outside their remit is true as a dog trainer should not be giving advice on a behaviour or training issue of a horse or donkey. The trainer or consultant must have the correct qualifications and skills to be able to train an animal otherwise they are going to make the behaviour and training of the animal much worse than they would be doing if they had the correct qualifications and skills. I personally think that you should train an animal using reinforcement and punishment that is both positive and negative as it teaches the animal what behaviours/ actions are susceptible and unsusceptible during a training session. Overall, I think that the most important factors are medical factors such as age, the sex of the animal, any injuries or illnesses and whether the animal has been abused. I came to the conclusion that these were the most important factors when it comes to training an animal as an older/ very young animal will not want to do too much training than a matured animal because it is too much for them to be able to learn and they easily become tired due to their age.
Whether an animal is male or female is very important as it may help the trainer or behaviourist with the animal’s temperament when it comes to training the animal. If an animal has any injuries or illnesses then they are unlikely to want to train as they will want to be left alone where they can recover from their injury or illness. An animal that has been abused by people will affect their behaviour and training as the animal may be shy and nervous or really aggressive towards the trainer or behaviourist. Part c: The importance of assessing medical factors when considering animal behaviour is crucial as it can determine whether to train the animal or not depending on the medical factors. Some of the medical factors that come into consideration is age, any injuries, if the female is in heat, pregnant or has any young as she may be lactating, got any parasites or diseases, has any abuse towards them, had surgery and been influenced by other animals. An example of this is if an animal has a health condition that makes it unwell, less able to move, and changes its patterns of going to the toilet then it can result in behavioural changes which can turn into a serious behavioural problem. An example of this is if a dog has an ear infection and someone within the family goes to rub the dog then the dog may react aggressively as they are hurt by the owner rubbing them or they feel pain when the owner rubs them.
This can develop into a habitual response everytime someone goes to stroke the dog. To eliminate health problems, all owners need to speak to their veterinarian about the behaviour problems their dog has so that the vet can examine the dog and identify any health causes which can be responsible for the dog developing certain behaviour problems. These health problems need to be treated before the behaviour problem is able to be resolved.