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Visual and verbal cues in dog training and the probability of errors
Dog training is the practice that most of the dog owners perform to teach some signals or clues for various purposes. These trained dogs get their rewards according to their learned lessons.
- Some dogs get training for the obedience of the owners.
- Some dogs are trained in searching for suspicious objects such as narcotics and explosive materials.
- Some are subjected to learn dominance in games
- Some owners train their dogs for personal protection
There are various methods to teach pets. Of these, most important are:
- Visual cues
- Verbal cues
Visual cues are the signals displayed by the owner by showing some physical things such as:
- Pointing to the ground with hand to command for sit down
- Holding up the cardboard or something else
Verbal cues-Maximum learning of the dog is likely to achieve by verbal cues or verbal communication.
Whatever the technique the dog learn, it is well established in the scientific literature that the dog learns from the body language of the owner.
Many trainers believe that all dogs learn certain signals for their safety and to facilitate future training. The exact cues suggested are many, but “sit,” “come,” and “leave it” are widely considered essential verbal cues for dogs. Dog owners also believe that responding to verbal cues is important.
Several factors can affect the learning behaviour of the dog.
Clear communication between owner and dog, including verbal cues, can reduce the likelihood of problem behaviours, anxiety, and stress on the dog’s part, as well as allowing the dog to be more involved in the owner’s life.
Obedience, defined as “follows given commands”. The largest gap between the ideal and actual behaviour of the dog is in obedience.
A proper obedience training program is not a simple task rather it is difficult and longer than you generally expect.
You do not need specific equipment for your dog training, however, some apparatus will make the job easier for you. A dog collar would be more appropriate than a leash. Then you have to choose one of four common methods for your dog training. These common methods are positive reinforcement, clicker training method and socialization. Two main issues of these systems are:
- Individual differences among the dogs
- A lack of detailed information about training procedures.
Afterwards, you should set up your session duration for training. In my opinion, the training session should not exceed 15 seconds and frequency should be two or three times a day. This is more applicable to puppies which I observe pay less attention to visual and verbal commands compared to adult dogs.
How to teach a dog to respond to verbal cues is therefore quite valuable to dog owners and trainers.
It is possible to teach cues by physically manipulating the dog into position and then delivering food reinforcers, it is much better to shape the behaviour using positive reinforcement alone. There is a need to focus either on species-specific responding to different types of cues or factors that affect the likelihood of a correct response to a previously taught cue. The factors that affect the learning of the dog from your cues are:
- Cues word
Dogs learn simple and distinct words more quickly compared to difficult ones and do not raise your voice.
Do not yell during the training and pronounce the verbal cue in comfortable voice pitch.
- Speed of delivering cues
Short, repeated sounds may move dogs and therefore are more effective cue when movement is desired.
Four short, rising notes are a more effective cue than a single long, descending note for behaviours that required an increase in movement (coming to the trainer), while both were effective cues for behaviours that required no movement (sitting).
Interestingly, dogs perform significantly better following the visual cue than the verbal cue. They always followed the visual cue rather than the verbal cue. So, it is important to note that if the goal is for a dog to respond to a verbal cue alone, visual cues should not be present during training and that owners should pay attention to their body language to avoid unintentional visual cues.
Chances of errors
Some factors may disrupt performance after a verbal cue has been taught. The dogs make more errors when a well-known verbal cue is
- preceded by a novel word (“banana sit”) than when the cue was given alone (“sit”),
- preceded by the dog’s name (“Roger, sit”),
- preceded by the dog’s name and a two-second pause (“Roger……sit”)
The dogs also make more errors when a recently learned verbal cue is preceded by a novel word or their name and a two-second pause, compared to the recently learned cue alone or preceded by their name with no pause.
This article provides interesting and useful information about what to avoid when teaching and using verbal cues.