CZAAWE Resource Article

The relationship between number of training sessions per week and learning in dogs
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2008
Authors 
Publication/Journal 
Applied Animal Behaviour Science
ISBN 
01681591
Abstract 
Despite the fact that most domestic dogs receive some kind of training, surprisingly few studies have been undertaken to analyze the process in detail, e.g. the question of how often training should be done has not been investigated in dogs. According to the Danish animal protection law, laboratory animals, including laboratory dogs, must be habituated to personnel and laboratory procedures before experimentation. In order for the law to be implemented, however, better knowledge about the effect of different training schedules on the learning performance of dogs is needed, something that is also of interest for owners and trainers of family dogs as well as working type dogs. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of two different training schedules on the number of training sessions required to reach a certain training level. Using shaping and clicker training, 18 laboratory Beagles were trained to perform a target response. Nine dogs were trained once a week and nine dogs were trained five times a week. The results of the study show that dogs trained once a week learned the shaping exercise in significantly fewer training sessions than dogs trained five times a week. In addition, weekly trained dogs tended to have higher success rates at the different steps of the shaping exercise than the dogs trained five times a week. The dogs trained five times a week completed the shaping exercise in significantly fewer days than the weekly trained dogs. It is concluded that for dogs learning a given skill, weekly training results in better learning performance than training five times a week, when performance is measured in the number of training sessions required to reach a certain training level.