Ethology-based Dog Training Techniques: A Review



Dog trainers in Brisbane and in the rest of the world have developed their training methodologies over hundreds of generations and the resultant list of present day dog training techniques is endless. Suitable training methods vary by breed, geographical location, the nature and intended purpose of the training and a number of other factors. The method that we are about to discuss today is one that was developed and popularized around the 80’s in North America.


What is Ethology?


Ethology is a study of the behaviour of a certain species within a certain natural selection. When it comes to dogs, ethologists determine and predict the way a dog might react to a certain stimulus. Knowing their input and utilising their research into dog training leads to more specific results as well as decreases incidences of failure.


Researching into dog ethology comprises primarily of looking back at the ancestry of the current specie of a particular dog. This is done both through literature and via the testing of canine DNA. It tells scientists how long particular specie of dog has been in the vicinity of civilised human beings. It is known that dogs domesticate over subsequent generations, and hence dogs that have been domesticated for hundreds of generations are easier to train.


On the other hand, dogs that have been domesticated fairly recently, and dogs that come from a long ancestry of being wild hunters, require a very different approach towards dog training. These dogs often pledge their allegiance instinctively to a pack leader, since just like wolves, dogs live in packs in the forest. Most ethology-based dog trainers in Brisbane advocate cultivating a relationship with the canine to be trained that helps them identify with their trainer as the leader of the pack. If the dog identifies you as the alpha, the leader, then it is more likely to obey your commands.


Potential for Application


Two of the most famous names when it comes to dog ethology based training are those of Cesar Milan and Jan Fennell. Fennell’s legendary show “The Dog Whisperer” relies on significant amounts of research input from canine ethology. But the research does not stop there – a number of scientists and authors have looked into the area with the objective of making a significant addition to our understanding of how dogs think. However, the problem with using dog ethology is that the training method differs from author to author and there is no standardization by virtue of which the effectiveness of individual training methods can be measured.


New research turns up multiple times a year on the nebulous workings of a dog’s mind. Repeatable experiments and persuasive cases are rare, but they do exist. Dog trainers in Brisbane often specialise in ethology based dog training and would incorporate known and relatively effective techniques to dogs wherever possible.


Quite naturally, this aspect of dog training is intricate and hitherto, largely unexplored by mankind. One hopes that time and development will lead to a point where dog training in Brisbane will use communication methods with dogs that are as simple as communication between humans.