Sunday, 19 May 2024

Disobedient pooch? Don't bark orders at them but speak nicely instead

Disobedient pooch? Don’t bark orders at them but speak nicely instead for better results in training, experts say

  • Experts studied the way nine mixed-breed dogs behaved across 135 sessions
  • It’s thought a more pleasant atmosphere relaxes dogs, aiding their performance

If you want your dog to follow orders, you may assume a strict voice is the answer.

But according to a new study, owners should drop the tough talk and speak nicely to them instead.

Dogs responded more accurately to commands when their trainers used a friendly voice rather than a harsh one, researchers found.

It is thought that a more pleasant atmosphere makes dogs more relaxed which aids their performance.

The team, from the Wolf Science Centre at the University of Vienna and the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerai in Brazil, studied the way nine mixed-breed dogs behaved during 135 training sessions.

Dogs responded more accurately to commands when their trainers used a friendly voice rather than a harsh one. (file image)

Each dog participated in 15 training sessions of five minutes each – three sessions with each of the five trainers.

While the pronunciation of commands – e.g. ‘sit’, ‘stand’, ‘roll’ – was standardised and always spoken in a neutral tone of voice, there were differences in the way trainers spoke to the dogs throughout the rest of the training sessions.

Each unit of interaction was recorded as ‘nice’ – i.e. speech that was of a higher pitch and with exaggerated affection, or a laugh; ‘neutral’ – i.e. without intense variation in intonation; and ‘reprehensive’.

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that in the sessions in which more reprehensive speech was used the dogs showed more negative emotional signs – less tail wagging and less time spent next to the trainer.

But crucially they also performed less well, making fewer correct responses to commands.

Study author Melissa Bravo Fonseca, said the reproachful voice may stress the dog, which then affects 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, favouring the fulfilment of commands,’ she said.

‘The use of nice speeches [also] has the potential to attract the listener’s attention, increasing the social responsiveness of the receivers.’

It is thought that a more pleasant atmosphere makes dogs more relaxed which aids their performance. (file image)

In contrast, studies have shown that a stressful atmosphere may interfere with the cognitive function of animals, as well as negatively affecting them emotionally, she said.

‘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 the study were all familiar with commands – i.e. the training sessions were tests of compliance rather than new learning – study co-author Professor Angelica Vasconcellos believes similar results would be achieved when teaching dogs new skills too.

‘Our results suggest that a friendly voice during training supports performance and positive emotional responses in dogs,’ she concluded.

The findings were published in the journal Animals.

Source: Read Full Article

Related Posts