What is animal learning?

Animal learning in a nutshell is based on the principles of how animals learn. Not only are we interested in teaching animals lots of different things but we are very interested in  *how* we go about it.  More on this in future post. 🙂

As part of our program goals… we would love it if everyone training dogs, no matter the volunteer level, could understand WHY they are doing what they’re doing, and what the dog is learning. We don’t expect everyone to become experts and science nerds like us, but we hope to teach people the science behind training, instead of them getting frustrated with the dog, simply forcing the dog to do something he doesn’t understand or opposing shelter guidelines because they don’t understand the “why” behind the guidelines.

Here is Erica demonstrating with this handsome pup how to lure a dog into one of the six body positions.  Notice also, the attention from the pup on Erica while surrounded by familiar people in a somewhat distracting environment!

Does the description below resembles your shelter or rescue organization?

Q 4: What are some of the obstacles or issues that prevent your

volunteers and or staff from reaching their goals?


“Time and manpower- too many needs to meet well with current


“Lack of volunteers during some hours, difficulty in fully training all

volunteers in the training philosophy of the shelter.”

“Advanced training for the dogs who stay here longer who also

need the most work/help/enrichment/support.”

Dog T.I.P. Our philosophy and some biases

● Our training methods are based on the science of Animal Learning.

● Rewards-based trainers. What does that mean?

We train using the presentation and removal of rewards.

● Empowering dogs by allowing them to make choices.

● Control the environment, not the dog!

● The learner is always right.