How Do Dogs Think?

What’s Going On In Their Heads Anyway?

Introduction - Read This First!

Dogs may look very similar to wolves, but they really are more like toddlers than you might think. An adult dogs thinks in the same way a 3 or 4 year old toddler might. Keep that in mind as you wonder why your new dog does some of the things they do. All a dog usually wants is food, play, and fun!

How Do Dogs Learn New Things?

Dogs are actually pretty simple. Once you know what your dog likes the most, it’s very easy to teach them whatever you want! If good things happen (like treats, or toys!), when your dog does what you want them to, then they’ll do that more often. If something bad happens, they won’t do that thing very much… Dogs learn through:

Positive Reinforcements To Make New Connections

What Actually Motivates Dogs?

To teach our dogs good behaviors, tricks, anything!, we need to use positive reinforcement, which means using things your dog likes. We use treats most often, but dogs are motivated by all kinds of things! Some dogs like play a lot more than they like food. Just keep in mind that you have lots of different options to motivate your dog when training. 

Exercise: What Does Your Dog Love The Most?

Instructions: Get one of each of the “fun” things mentioned above. That means food, treats, a toy to throw, a chewy treat, and of course your happy voice. You’ve probably already figured out what your dog likes the most. What is it? Below are also some examples of each type of reward you can use for now. 

Treat Rewards

Toy Rewards

Praise and Affection Rewards

Shouldn't My Dog Just "Respect" Me And Listen All The Time?

Instead of asking:

“How do I get my dog to respect me?”

Think about:

“How do I get my dog to trust and follow me?”

Because dogs are like kids in a lot of ways, they’re not being “rude” or trying to take over the house. They just want good things like food, treats, toys, and attention. Dogs don’t really even understand the idea of “respect”,but they do know who they trust, and who communicates with them clearly.

Does It Matter How "Smart" My Dog Is?

While a very smart dog will learn things faster, they may also destroy your house looking for something to do! They might also learn things you don’t want them to, like how to open the garbage, or escape their crate at night. That’s not fun!

What’s more important is that your dog loves you and wants to make you happy. We call this:

a “biddable” dog

How Good Is My Dog's Memory And Why Does It Matter?

Not very good, and it’s important to remember that! Dogs have a very poor sense of time. Just a few seconds after they’ve done something good or bad, they’ve forgotten what happened. They really do live in the moment! This is important when you start doing basic obedience training, because your rewarding (and sometimes light punishment) needs to be super fast.

Still Have Questions?

Still Have Questions?

Ask About Anything Not Covered In This Lesson

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Click here to download the Snoot App for a smoother experience.