How Dogs Learn (Book review)

This holiday season, I’ve decided to share twelve books with you.
At the bottom of this post, you can enter for a chance to win a copy of this book.
You can also visit this page to find the entire list of books and giveaways.

Today’s book is How Dogs Learn by Dr. Mary Burch and Dr. Jon Bailey. Now, for all my readers who train horses, birds, and other critters, this book is about much more than dog learning!

This book provides an introduction to the basic principles of learning and the science of operant conditioning. Now, the book was written with dog owners and dog trainers in mind. So, most of the examples throughout the book do involve dogs. However, anyone who’s interested in learning more about the basic science that underlies modern animal training will find this book useful.

Those who are new to animal training are often interested in learning more about the science of behavior and learning. But, there are so many different concepts and there is so much jargon that it can seem a little overwhelming at times!

For example, here are just a few technical terms that you may have heard an animal trainer mention: antecedents, consequences, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, differential reinforcement, extinction, stimulus control, conditioned reinforcers, respondent conditioning, operant conditioning functional analysis, discrimination, generalization….. and the list could go on!

Dr. Burch and Dr. Bailey cover all of these terms, and more in How Dogs Learn. However, why I really like this book is because it is short and to the point. The whole book is about 175 pages and is divided into 18 chapters.

Each chapter explains a basic concept or principle. For most of the chapters, this includes a straightforward explanation of the concept, a handful of examples, and a few things to remember about this concept when you are working with your dogs or other animals.

I especially like the chapter on functional analysis. It explains why functional analysis is needed, using an example where two dogs are doing the same behavior, but for very different reasons. Then, it discusses some common causes for problem behaviors in dogs and briefly discuses functional analysis and behavior diagnostic procedures.

There are plenty of pet owners and animal trainers who know nothing about the science of behavior. However, learning more about how animals learn can help you to be more thoughtful, deliberate, and effective when training. If you’re interested in learning more about the basic principles of learning, you would probably enjoy the book “How Dogs Learn.”

A quote about operant conditioning and dog training from the book "How Dogs Learn"

Enter to win a copy of this book

To enter the giveaway:
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions
One lucky reader will win a new copy of this book.
Winner will be chosen at random.
This giveaway ends on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018 at 11:59pm Central Standard Time.
Winner will be notified via email on December 15.
If the winner does not respond by Dec 17, he/she will forfeit the prize.
Void where prohibited.
Entering the giveaway form means you agree to the terms listed above.

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