Dog Training Tips: Generalizations

Created 10/27/2015 at 07:04 PM

Dogs… do not generalize well. This is one of the reasons that people will often experience problems with housebreaking when they move – the dog knows that he’s not supposed to pee in the house, but isn’t so good at realizing that the actual desired behavior is not to pee inside at ALL. To him, the old house and the new house, or the old house and the pet store, are two totally different locations, because he doesn’t have the same sort of concept of “inside” as we do.

What dogs DO do is pick up on patterns, even patterns we don’t realize are there. A friend of mine’s dog runs to his bed and lays down to sleep when she takes off her slippers, even if she’s taking them off at 7:00 am because she’s getting ready for work. To her dog, the slipper removal has been associated with going to bed, and so that’s what he does.

We ran into a pattern issue with ADHDog working with his feeder buttons: Husband and I have been testing whether he can/will distinguish a lit button from an unlit one, by rewarding him only when he turns off the lit button, and not the other way around. After several days of work, we’re beginning to conclude that he doesn’t care whether the buttons are lit – he cares whether there’s a distinguishable pattern that he can follow. Was the right-hand button correct two times in a row? That’s all he’ll do. Left-right-left-right? That’s all he’ll do. He’s finding patterns we didn’t know we were making, and it’s almost becoming a game to see what deeper meaning he’s picking out of our (apparently non-random) button choices.

Responsiveness to the light is definitely a trait that varies from dog-to-dog, as his friend Kovi is picking up on lit-unlit far more quickly than ADHDog himself. We anticipate will be solved once we get the alert beeps working, and will keep you updated with further progress! Keep an eye out for a new video of ADHDog testing his feeding system.

Next time, I’ll explain a little bit more about how we’re teaching our pups to use the buttons, and how you can start training your dog to push a button using a target command. And as always, please sign up for a chance to try ADHDog for free when we start user testing.