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by Claudia Fugazza
Social learning means acquiring new behaviors from the observation of others. Recent studies reveal the social cognitive abilities of dogs and suggest that they are surprisingly predisposed to learn socially from humans.
Do as I Do is a new training method based on dogs' social cognitive skills, particularly on their imitative ability. With this training technique, dogs will learn new behaviors observing and copying their owners. During the seminar, Claudia describes how to teach dogs the "imitation rule" and how to progress through the training protocol. Dogs will first be taught to imitate a small set of familiar actions (actions already trained with traditional techniques) and will then generalize this rule. At the end of the training protocol, owners will be able to teach new behaviors to their dogs, simply showing them what to do. These new actions can then be put on verbal cue. The cognitive abilities implied in social learning and in this training method are also described.
This is the first training method based on dog's social cognitive abilities. Running time: 8 hours, 19 minutes.
About the author:
Claudia Fugazza is a PhD student in Ethology at Eötvös Lorand University (Budapest), conducting her research on social learning and imitation in dogs with Prof. A. Miklosi. She received her B.Sc. in Dog Breeding and Education (TACREC), a Master's Degree in Ethology of Companion Animals, and a Master's Degree in Dog Training at the University of Pisa (Italy). Claudia developed a training method called Do as I Do (named after Hayes & Hayes 1952 and Topal et al. 2006), which relies on dogs' social cognitive skills. She is currently using this method both for applied dog training purposes and as preliminary training to study dogs' imitative abilities scientifically.
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