Saturday, February 11, 2012
Philosophy of Behavior Training - Alignment
Dogs evolved along side humans for the last 12,000 to 100,000 years depending on which scientific studies you subscribe to. Dog have evolved to look to us for information rather than trying to gather it themselves. I see it more as efficiency than a cognitive deficit.
Convergent evolution is championed by many scientists who believe that because dogs share many of the same behaviors we do, they give us the opportunity to explore the evolution of our own abilities in another animal–something that few other creatures provide.
PBS aired a program - Dogs Decoded - about cognitive studies in animals. One problem-solving study compared the response of dogs to wolves. When faced with a challenge to get food the dogs would invariably look to the human handler for instruction. The wolves never did. The dogs would also give up rather quickly compared to the wolves who would keep at it. One conclusion from this study was that dogs have been bred to respond to and interact with humans.
Assuming the conclusions of this research are correct and dogs share a cognitive ability with humans that our close cousins the chimpanzee lack, then that suggests that this ability resulted from convergent evolution. Much like the wings of birds and bats, this cognitive ability was not shared with common ancestors suggesting that they evolved independently.
Touching, looking at, examining, mimicing, following and learning to make choices create self control in a dog. This also includes processes which allow the dog to become more aware of his own body, how it moves, how it can be moved and what happens when it's touched by something or someone else.
Targeting processes are designed to assist the dog to live in the moment, unhampered by the trauma of the past. Life becomes predictable for the dog. With targeting, a dog starts to pay attention to what is there and not what he thinks might be hiding waiting to hurt him. He can actually start to interact with the real environment and his humans. Anxiety, nervousness and hyperactivity all disappear as the dog is living less in the past and more in the moment.