Even the dumbest dogs are clever. Just think of all the ways they get people to do what they want when they want. Very few can resist the sad puppy eyes and the offered paw when eating something the dog also sees as yummy.
One of the many reasons that the thousand years of association between people and dogs is the ability for dogs to communicate in ways humans can understand, without actually saying anything. How many times has your dog brought you a ball with that look that you just know means time to play fetch?
These are only a few examples that demonstrate the ability dogs have for learning complex behavior.
Dogs can surprisingly enough understand a large amount of spoken language and body language, but they process the information differently then people do.
Dogs’ eyes react very differently to colors and have an increased ability to see in low light conditions. Dogs’ have the ability to contract certain muscles on their head which allows them to rotate their ears. Being able to rotate their ears allows them to quickly and accurately locate the source of the noise. And the other one everyone knows is the dog’s famous sense of smell.
The difference between dogs and people continues on other levels of brain functioning. Dogs understand cause and effect relationships very unlike people.
Classical conditioning, which is associating a stimulus with a certain response, can be more easily overcome in people. people are much better at changing an unwanted response to a car accident or a trip to the doctor for example. Those associations are much more difficult to change in dogs.
Operant conditioning which is grasping naturally related cause and effect relationships, usually through positive or negative reinforcement, is even more differences between people and dogs.
When training your dog to associate a specific tone and word and a very unique hand or arm gesture with every voice command. As a result of this, your dog will learn a large variety of selected behaviors quickly. They can sit, stay, down, come, roll over, no bite, fetch and release, even urinate and defecate on command.
Keep in mind telling your dog over and over again not to eat things off the ground that their very own past experience continually shows them results in upset stomachs is a waste of time. Dogs will continually repeat the same unwanted behavior or actions the first chance they get. Dogs simply just can’t grasp some effects when the cause of those effects is much earlier in time. For example, a dog eats garbage at 8 am and gets sick at 2 pm they can comprehend that what they did at 8 am is the result of the sickness at 2 pm.
The lesson you should take away from this is that your dog whether Retriever, Shepherd, Dachshund or Basset Hound can learn an amazing amount of different things, provided you do not expect the unreasonable.
Several good examples of what can be done with dogs are “search and rescue dogs,” which have been trained to pull people to safety from rivers, lakes, oceans, and skiers from avalanches.
Service dogs have been trained to doors and pull a wheelchair or fetch a container of water without spilling a drop. But don’t expect them to think like humans, even when trained to emulate us. No matter how many times you tell them not to, they’ll continue to eat grass.