A recent study has shown that speaking nicely while engaged in dog training exercises may be more effective in getting them to follow commands than using a strict, authoritative tone.
Researchers from the Wolf Science Centre at the University of Vienna and the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerai in Brazil have discovered that dogs respond more accurately to commands when trainers use a friendly voice. Dog trainers believe that a pleasant atmosphere helps dogs relax and perform better.
The study involved nine mixed-breed dogs who participated in a total of 135 training sessions. Each dog experienced 15 five-minute sessions with each of the five trainers.
Trainers always delivered the pronunciation of standard commands like “sit,” “stand,” and “roll” in a neutral tone. However, trainers varied their tone of voice during the rest of the sessions, employing “nice,” “neutral,” or “reprehensive” speech.
Speakers characterized nice speech by using a higher pitch and exaggerated affection or laughter. Neutral speech had minimal intonation variation. Reprehensive speech was rough, angry, or commanding in tone.
In the sessions where trainers used more reprehensive speech, the researchers observed more negative emotional signs displayed by the dogs. These signs included less tail wagging and spending less time next to the trainer. Importantly, the dogs also performed worse, making fewer correct responses to commands.
Study author Melissa Bravo Fonseca explained that a reproachful voice may stress the dog, affecting its performance.
“In view of our results, we believe that nice speeches have created a positive atmosphere, in which the animals might interact in a relaxed way, favoring the fulfilment of commands,” she said. “The use of nice speeches has the potential to attract the listener’s attention, increasing the social responsiveness of the receivers.”
Fonseca also highlighted that previous studies have demonstrated how a stressful atmosphere can interfere with an animal’s cognitive function and negatively impact them emotionally.
“In other words, stressed/tense animals will not respond adequately in the sessions. Therefore, a relaxing atmosphere may improve performance.”
While the dogs used in this study were already familiar with the commands, meaning that the training sessions tested their compliance rather than new learning, study co-author Professor Angelica Vasconcellos believes that the findings would also apply to teaching dogs new skills.
“Our results suggest that a friendly voice during training supports performance and positive emotional responses in dogs,” she concluded.
The study’s findings have been published in the journal Animals. They may offer valuable insight for dog owners and trainers looking to improve their canine training techniques.
Individual dogs’ temperament and trainability can vary. However, people generally consider certain breeds easier to train. This is due to their intelligence, eagerness to please, and ability to learn quickly. Some of the easiest dog breeds to train include:
Known for their intelligence and work ethic, Border Collies excel in obedience training and various dog sports.
Poodles are highly intelligent and versatile dogs, capable of excelling in obedience training and various activities.
This breed is valued for its intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. People commonly use German Shepherds as working dogs because of their trainability.
Golden Retrievers are friendly, intelligent, and eager to please, making them easy to train and great family pets.
Labradors are intelligent, friendly, and eager to learn, making them popular as family pets, therapy dogs, and service dogs.
Highly intelligent and energetic, Australian Shepherds are quick learners and excel in various dog sports and activities.
Small but intelligent, Papillons are known for their agility and ability to learn new commands quickly.
Also known as Shelties, these dogs are intelligent and eager to please, excelling in obedience training and various dog sports.
Dobies are intelligent, loyal, and trainable, often excelling in obedience and protection work.
Rottweilers are intelligent, loyal, and eager to work, making them suitable for various training endeavors, including obedience and protection work.
Keep in mind that even within these breeds, individual dogs may vary in terms of trainability. Factors like socialization, training methods, and the dog’s specific background can also play a significant role in how easy or difficult it is to train a dog.
The bond between dogs and humans is unique and special due to several factors, including evolutionary, social, and emotional reasons:
Dogs and humans have shared a close relationship for thousands of years. Domesticated from wolves around 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, dogs have evolved alongside humans, adapting to our lifestyles and needs. This long history of coexistence has created a deep bond between the two species.
Dogs and humans have historically provided each other with mutual benefits. Dogs helped humans with tasks such as hunting, herding, and protection, while humans provided dogs with food, shelter, and companionship. This interdependence has strengthened the bond between dogs and humans over time.
Dogs have developed an exceptional ability to communicate with humans. They can read human body language, facial expressions, and vocal cues, making them particularly attuned to our emotions and needs. Similarly, humans have become adept at understanding dogs’ body language and vocalizations, facilitating communication and strengthening the bond between the two species.
Both dogs and humans are social animals, and they naturally form close relationships with members of their own species and others. Dogs have evolved to be particularly skilled at forming attachments to humans, and humans often view dogs as members of their families, further reinforcing the bond.
Dogs provide humans with emotional support, companionship, and unconditional love. They have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in people and can even improve overall mental health and well-being. Similarly, humans provide emotional support and companionship to dogs, creating a reciprocal relationship that nurtures the bond between them.
Interactions between dogs and humans can increase the levels of oxytocin, a hormone associated with social bonding and trust, in both species. This hormonal response helps strengthen the bond between dogs and humans and contributes to the emotional connection that many people feel with their canine companions.
These factors, among others, have contributed to the unique and special bond between dogs and humans that continues to be celebrated and studied today.
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