Model-Rival Dog Training Technique

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What are the reasons behind developing model-rival dog training technique if there are already very effective and deeply developed ones?

Model-Rival Dog Training Technique small imageDog training is a field where lots of studies are being constantly conducted. And, the widely accepted form of training is operant conditioning where the circumstance for a positive behavior is created and the dog is rewarded when it responds to the situation in the desired manner. This mode of training still remains the most effective way to make the dog obedient.

After some time, experts started feeling that since dog is a social animal, it has to be trained with the assistance of a social stimuli. Here, an attempt is made to create an interest in an object in the animal without the usual reward, food.

How model-rival dog training technique works?

Although a model-rival dog training technique has been invented by the famous scientist Todt and worked on by Dr. Irene Pepperberg, this form of training is still in its developing stage. For clarification: Dr. Irene Pepperberg used a parrot for her research.

The training consisted of two person and the bird to be trained (the parrot is being replaced by the dog here for illustrative purpose). While one person acts as a trainer, the other one would be the model. The model would also have to act as the rival. These two persons, the trainer and the model perform the action they want the dog to do.

For instance, if the objective of a model-rival dog training technique session is to help the dog recognize an object, the trainer would hold it. With the object in hand, the trainer starts asking questions. When the model gives the answer the trainer wants him to say, the object is offered to him to play. Here, the human model becomes a rival for the dog.

This happens because the dog is unable to recognize the object. During the session, the model, mimicking the dog would make mistakes. The dog trainer then keeps the object away from the model and scolds the model. The attempts are repeated. At a certain point, the attempt starts all over again with the dog.

Despite varying success rate of the model-rival dog training technique, experts have come to understand the great possibilities of the venture. Even after the unfortunate death of the African parrot who had been the subject for experiments, the research still continues to inspire many dog trainers to experiment this mode of training with their dogs.

Model-rival dog training vs. operant conditioning method

In an attempt to establish the effectiveness of the model rival training, dogs were tested with the task of choosing the correct object from a group of items. Those who were trained in operant-conditioning mode and the model-rival training mode were assigned the same task. However, experts failed to see any increase in speed for the task for the dogs trained with model-rival method. Still, scientists are of the view that this holds great future to test the cognitive ability of the animals.

Some are even of the opinion that if properly implemented, children with autism can be benefited from this innovative method.

As with all other gentle dog training methods, model-rival dog training too requires patience, dedication and consistency on the part of the trainer to see results.