do dog learn from other trained dogs?
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  1. #21
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by wvasko View Post
    Yes you can stake out green dogs on shoreline etc and start building desire to enter water or on land and fetch a dummy possibly by watching an older dog but anything further than that is just not gonna happen. My opinion is based on actually working dogs.
    Let's not forget that certain drives are intensively bred into certain breeds. Basic fetch comes so naturally to a well bred retriever that the same results would probably have been achieved working with the pups alone.

    My experience with my two Rotts convinces me that it is possible. Both dogs were absurdly intelligent and it was very much in their nature to watch everything. They also had an ability to "telepathically" communicate with one another that was downright unnerving at times. If I staked out my Golden to watch another dog work, he'd make such a spectacle and distraction of himself that nobody would learn a thing.

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  3. #22
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Penny learned everything at a much faster rate than Belle, we think because she had Belle to watch and was smart enough to make the connection.

  4. #23
    Senior Member Inga's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Well I do know that my boy Carsten has learned fear from his fearful brother Oliver. Oliver had been severely abused by his previous home (broken bones and such) he is fearful of fast movements of the hand, his own bowls, loud noises and stomping shoes. Carsten has recently started the "duck and cover" thing when I toss my hands up in the air. Carsten was not an abused dog and for the longest time, he was a little too brave for his own good. Now, I wish he would go back to being brave, he acts like I abuse him. Well, if it is convenient to do so, sometimes he just gets really excited when I am flying around the house, he is on my heels and nothing backs him off.


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  6. #24
    Senior Member KBLover's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by qingcong View Post
    But stuff like learning sit, stay, come, heel, and other human creations, I don't think they'd be able to learn simply by observing another dog.
    Did humans actually create these behaviors or did we just create the "do it when I say to" aspect?

    I mean - we don't teach dogs how to sit. We teach them to sit at <insert cue/routine/location>. Same with heeling (when dogs chase, they try to maintain the same position that we call "heel position". I notice it just when Wally is chasing me.) Stay, just a variation of the "freeze and observe" when in situation the dog is watching and alert (Wally will "stay" when watching a squirrel move, reading its reactions and movement). Down is natural resting position as well as a defensive position.

    Recall might be human designed (dogs don't call each other to come to their location?), but I wouldn't be surprised if it's rooted in an instinctive behavior and as such we are just activating a "pre-programmed" behavior on our signal.

    Not to mention, dogs can pick up on patterns and routines. What's to say Dog 2 can't watch when and where Wally sits to go out or how he waits by the door to my room or how Wally goes to the other end of the kitchen when I'm cooking, especially after seeing Wally get food for doing so. Wouldn't dog 2 then try these things?

    How do dogs learn from either other? They can't "train" like humans, but don't they learn from each other when and how to do various things, some of which aren't just simple stuff like peeing on things?
    Last edited by KBLover; 03-12-2010 at 12:43 AM.

    Wally's latent learning position.

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  7. #25
    Senior Member qingcong's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by KBLover View Post
    Did humans actually create these behaviors or did we just create the "do it when I say to" aspect?

    I mean - we don't teach dogs how to sit. We teach them to sit at <insert cue/routine/location>

    Exactly, teaching the cues is a human creation. Maybe there are a few rare dog geniuses who learn cues simply by watching another.

    I read somewhere that a wolf had learned to unlock its kennel by watching how the human did it, whereas the dog never got it. I think that wolves, being more pack oriented animals than dogs, are better at social learning. From what I understand, dogs possess minimal social learning skills compared to the wolf. However, dogs are head and shoulders above the wolf at receiving human direction.

  8. #26
    Senior Member KBLover's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by qingcong View Post
    Exactly, teaching the cues is a human creation. Maybe there are a few rare dog geniuses who learn cues simply by watching another.
    I think it depends on what you mean by cue.

    If you mean a human-instigated action, then yeah, probably not many.

    However, cues can be taken from the environment. All a cue is, basically, is something that activates a learned behavior.

    Wally sitting could be the cue the 2nd dog takes to then sit in turn. While that might not fit the definition of social learning, I'm not doing the teaching either. I'm just directing Wally as always and the 2nd dog is watching Wally and getting his cue from that.

    So if I'm not directing dog 2 (and depending on what it is, I'm directly cuing Wally either), and dog 2 isn't learning from Wally - then where is dog 2 learning the cue to sit, say at the door?

    Actually, I just thought of an example. I remember when I took in that stray Bichon some kids found.

    I just kept interaction with Wally as usual and figured it would be a good time to train with a dog around.

    Wally offered a sit, and got a treat. The Bichon came over, and sat (which Wally wasn't terribly thrilled about - like he was saying "This is MY training session, outsider.")

    Now I wonder - why did the Bichon do that? I was in no way paying any attention to him, and he wasn't sitting (too busy sniffing everything), but when I gave Wally food for sitting, the Bichon then did the same thing.

    When it was time let Wally out to pee, he sat by the door as always and I opened it. The Bichon was about to go out, but Wally glared at the Bichon. The Bichon then sat down and Wally then looked at me again like he was saying "Okay, please continue. I told the nOOb off for you."

    Really interesting, even if it's not strictly social learning.

    Wally's latent learning position.

    Believe in yourself, be the type of dog owner you want to be and you won’t need labels." - Dr. Abrantes

    "I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand. " -Confucious says why I love shaping in a sentence.

    "Once you've entered the battle, you've already lost." -Amaryllis' mom on dog and child training.

  9. #27
    Super Moderator RonE's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Molly was house-trained by example, thanks to Esther - and very quickly.

    Other than that, what they have learned from each other is mostly bad habits.

  10. #28
    Senior Member wvasko's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marsh Muppet View Post
    Let's not forget that certain drives are intensively bred into certain breeds. Basic fetch comes so naturally to a well bred retriever that the same results would probably have been achieved working with the pups alone.

    My experience with my two Rotts convinces me that it is possible. Both dogs were absurdly intelligent and it was very much in their nature to watch everything. They also had an ability to "telepathically" communicate with one another that was downright unnerving at times. If I staked out my Golden to watch another dog work, he'd make such a spectacle and distraction of himself that nobody would learn a thing.
    I always preferred to build a pup into a dog to see natural talents/drives etc that the pup actually has without the outside influence of another dog. If your building a pup you want to see what the pup's foundation has to offer, as pup gets older you can force train many things, but nothing beats natural talent/drives. Sorry for being repetitious with my reply.

    That being said I am also sure there are amazing instances of unexplained acts of dog geniuses doing marvelous things.

    The 10 dog kennel/watching example I tossed up was just a total fleecing of people willing to be parted from their money. No more, no less. It had nothing to do with actually training a dog.
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  11. #29
    Senior Member LazyGRanch713's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by qingcong View Post
    Exactly, teaching the cues is a human creation. Maybe there are a few rare dog geniuses who learn cues simply by watching another.

    I read somewhere that a wolf had learned to unlock its kennel by watching how the human did it, whereas the dog never got it. I think that wolves, being more pack oriented animals than dogs, are better at social learning. From what I understand, dogs possess minimal social learning skills compared to the wolf. However, dogs are head and shoulders above the wolf at receiving human direction.
    There was actually a special called "Dog Genius" on not too long ago, it was pretty interesting. I think it's on youtube..
    Dude learned how to yap obnoxiously by the old terrier we had at the time (she was very cognitive, ei "nuts", and would bark for no reason at all). It took years to break him of this, and fortunately Auz never picked up on this. Not sure if he found it as irritating as I did, or he connected the dots (Dude barks, I tell him to knock it off), or if it's just not part of who he is. (Auz is one of those dogs who when he barks, I get up and look out the window). Tag doesn't do this either. I met Dudes parents, his mom was yappy, his father wasn't. Auz's parents weren't obnoxious barkers, and I never met Tags parents, so who knows if this was really learned or genetic predisposition.
    We had a pair of brother cats for years (one brother is still alive at almost 20 years old! ) The cat that's still around went to live with someone else for awhile; when he came back, he was claustrophobic and terrified of handling He's longhaired and mats easily, and when being brush lays there and screams like he's being murdered. Once we were brushing him, he was screaming a blue streak, and his brother (now gone) walked over and smacked his brother upside the head. It was almost like he was saying "SHUT UP ALREADY". It was kind of funny

  12. #30
    Senior Member qingcong's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by KBLover View Post
    I think it depends on what you mean by cue.

    If you mean a human-instigated action, then yeah, probably not many.

    However, cues can be taken from the environment. All a cue is, basically, is something that activates a learned behavior.

    Wally sitting could be the cue the 2nd dog takes to then sit in turn. While that might not fit the definition of social learning, I'm not doing the teaching either. I'm just directing Wally as always and the 2nd dog is watching Wally and getting his cue from that.

    So if I'm not directing dog 2 (and depending on what it is, I'm directly cuing Wally either), and dog 2 isn't learning from Wally - then where is dog 2 learning the cue to sit, say at the door?

    Actually, I just thought of an example. I remember when I took in that stray Bichon some kids found.

    I just kept interaction with Wally as usual and figured it would be a good time to train with a dog around.

    Wally offered a sit, and got a treat. The Bichon came over, and sat (which Wally wasn't terribly thrilled about - like he was saying "This is MY training session, outsider.")

    Now I wonder - why did the Bichon do that? I was in no way paying any attention to him, and he wasn't sitting (too busy sniffing everything), but when I gave Wally food for sitting, the Bichon then did the same thing.

    When it was time let Wally out to pee, he sat by the door as always and I opened it. The Bichon was about to go out, but Wally glared at the Bichon. The Bichon then sat down and Wally then looked at me again like he was saying "Okay, please continue. I told the nOOb off for you."

    Really interesting, even if it's not strictly social learning.

    I think the social learning ability of dogs belongs on a continuum, with some dogs possessing more ability than others. It's just like how some kids can't learn algebra until they practice it over and over with the teacher, while others understand it the moment it comes off the chalkboard. The kids who grasp it simply by observing the teacher doing it, that's the equivalent of a dog learning the cue to sit by watching another dog.

    To be able to understand what "sit" means by watching another dog is a very abstract concept, I suspect only .01% of dogs out there would understand it. First of all, the dog would have to visually realize that the treat is a desired object. Then the dog would have to understand that the other dog got the desired object by doing a particular action. Last, the dog would have to understand that the human cue means to do that particular action. I suspect most dogs wouldn't make it past step 1, since dogs are so scent oriented.

    Stuff like sitting at the door when another dog sits at the door, that's a lot simpler than the previous example. It's mostly communication and imitation, not as much thinking. Just as a hyper person makes me a little more wound up, dogs rub off on each other. How much it rubs off just depends on each individual dog's place on the social learning continuum.
    Last edited by qingcong; 03-12-2010 at 02:01 PM.

  13. #31
    Senior Member KBLover's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by qingcong View Post
    To be able to understand what "sit" means by watching another dog is a very abstract concept, I suspect only .01% of dogs out there would understand it. First of all, the dog would have to visually realize that the treat is a desired object. Then the dog would have to understand that the other dog got the desired object by doing a particular action. Last, the dog would have to understand that the human cue means to do that particular action. I suspect most dogs wouldn't make it past step 1, since dogs are so scent oriented.

    Hmm...you're right dogs are scent creatures - but couldn't the Bichon smell the treat and think "Hey, I want that!" ?

    As far as understanding the desired action - the Bichon might not know that's exactly why Wally got the treat (in fact, he probably doesn't/isn't capable) but could he not think "hey, it worked for him, maybe it will work for me"? I think a dog can understand that another dog is in a position we call sitting (after all, it's one of their calming/"I'd like to stop now" signals) - It would seem to fall under the mimicking that you talked about in regards to my second example.

    So if the Bichon can scent the treat in my hand and think "I want that!" and then can see that Wally is sitting and that Wally is eating the thing he wants - does it still become a major leap for the large majority of dogs to sit hoping that "thing I want" comes his way like it did for Wally?

    I understand what you're saying and I don't doubt that it's at least an unusual ability, just like with a kid getting algebra from day 1 of being introduced to it, I just wonder if it isn't what I'm thinking...It leaves me with the question why did the Bichon do it in seeming exact response to Wally getting to eat a treat when he was doing something totally unrelated and from someone he doesn't know from some random guy on the street? Could have been just a lucky coincidence...but that's some majorly precise coincidence!

    I know Bichons are well-regarded for their intelligence as are pretty much all dogs in the Bichon family (of which Wally also belongs), so maybe it was just having two pretty smart Bichon-family dogs together

    BTW, I gave the Bichon a treat (again, Wally wasn't exactly thrilled LOL) and the Bichon spent all the time he was here following me and sitting LOL. It was almost ridiculous. Take two steps - he'll follow and sit. Walk down the hall and stop. He'd follow and sit. Every time he'd have these big eyes looking at me intently. Since he just didn't want to stop (just like another certain dog I spend time with...*looks at Wally*) I played the "sitting game" with him. Scary how fast he got the clicker too - makes me wonder if his owner c/t with him.
    Last edited by KBLover; 03-12-2010 at 07:11 PM.

    Wally's latent learning position.

    Believe in yourself, be the type of dog owner you want to be and you won’t need labels." - Dr. Abrantes

    "I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand. " -Confucious says why I love shaping in a sentence.

    "Once you've entered the battle, you've already lost." -Amaryllis' mom on dog and child training.

  14. #32
    Senior Member qingcong's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    Hmm...you're right dogs are scent creatures - but couldn't the Bichon smell the treat and think "Hey, I want that!" ?
    I suppose so, but then that wouldn't be strictly observational learning.


    I understand what you're saying and I don't doubt that it's at least an unusual ability, just like with a kid getting algebra from day 1 of being introduced to it, I just wonder if it isn't what I'm thinking...It leaves me with the question why did the Bichon do it in seeming exact response to Wally getting to eat a treat when he was doing something totally unrelated and from someone he doesn't know from some random guy on the street? Could have been just a lucky coincidence...but that's some majorly precise coincidence!
    I think what you describe there might be a combination of imitation and the dog offering any behavior that works for him. In general, most dogs probably have good things happen to them when they sit, so the bichon probably offered up a sit in the hopes that something good would happen.

    I can't know for sure, but it seemed like my dog learned how to hump things from my gf's family dog, Buddy. My dog had never humped anything before, but after getting humped by Buddy a few times, he started humping his own bed (very funny to watch). There might have been other factors involved, such as how we at one point set his bed in a dog house that once belonged to a female. Nonetheless, I was intrigued as to the social learning implications of this new behavior.

  15. #33
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    [QUOTE=qingcong;758505]I suppose so, but then that wouldn't be strictly observational learning.

    If you're going to be so strict that nothing but the sense of sight is allowed in observational learning, then obviously the dog can't learn to sit when you say "sit". They need smell to want the treat, and they need hearing to pick up the cue.

    For what it's worth, a friend of mine grew up with a Golden Retriever and a Bichon. They worked hard training the Golden, and she was a very well behaved dog. Nobody bothered to train the Bichon when he came along, but over time he picked up almost everything the first dog could do. He was never quite as quick or precise, but he knew what to do and did it. My new rescue seems to be picking up some basic things from my first dog already, but since the new dog is BC/ACD, I guess it's possible that he's just learning everything on the second try.

  16. #34
    Senior Member wvasko's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    For what it's worth, a friend of mine grew up with a Golden Retriever and a Bichon. They worked hard training the Golden, and she was a very well behaved dog. Nobody bothered to train the Bichon when he came along, but over time he picked up almost everything the first dog could do. He was never quite as quick or precise, but he knew what to do and did it. My new rescue seems to be picking up some basic things from my first dog already, but since the new dog is BC/ACD, I guess it's possible that he's just learning everything on the second try.
    The above is interesting and very possible as when working/living/training etc)with a dog or two I believe the verbal commands/cues are accompanied with the same body languages and done over and over again(especially home manners etc) I think it's training by osmosis. In the home with a dog you are doing the same program (just living with your dogs) It's definitely not gonna happen with all dogs just a special few.
    Dinosaur Dog Trainer


  17. #35
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    I'm definitely not an expert, but I have 3 dogs, and they all know different tricks. I have found that if I do not work with each dog individually, they never pick up specific tricks. I will say, however, that when we put in a doggie door, 2 of my dogs taught the 3rd dog how to use it. Curious.

  18. #36
    Senior Member TxRider's Avatar
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    Re: do dog learn from other trained dogs?

    With my two there is no doubt when I have a treat and I am asking one dog to do something, the other a) knows I have the treat, b) knows some kind of behavior will get a treat.

    That said I believe one might copy the other's behavior, but it isn't learning my cue, it is more using the other dog as a cue if it gets a reward of some kind.

    Kaya learns a lot of behavior from Hope, as Kaya is very fearful and timid and is very observant of Hope and what she does and how she approaches new people, dogs etc. she looks to her for how to react quite a bit and ends up copying her in many things. It's obvious if you watch them, and it has helped quite bit with her fear of strange people and dogs.

    Kaya learned all the behaviors it took me a couple of months to teach Hope in less than a week when I got her. She still isn't so solid on the verbal cues for them as Hope is though even 5 months later.

    It less often goes the other way, as Hope has picked up only a little of Kaya's behavior, not nearly as much. Mainly stuff like barking at people outside the window and such that she has learned is self reinforcing. She is driven, not fearful, assertive, and I don't think she pays much attention to what other dogs are doing unlike Kaya.
    Last edited by TxRider; 03-15-2010 at 09:29 AM.

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