Recently I saw a post on social media from a person who had a new GSD puppy. They asked a very innocent but interesting question. "My new puppy is 8 weeks old. How many commands should I teach it right now and what should it all learn?" My boredom waiting on a flight prompted me to comment on it, and as always on social media, I am mainly wrong, or crazy, or both. I simply said "Teach your puppy how to learn. Don't worry about cues, they are irrelevant. Teach your puppy to be a smart active learner" Well that comment basically broke the internet on that post lol. I got everything from "Dogs are already smart and they are born knowing how to learn' to "Your wrong,genetics make them smart" to "You ware wrong, teach all the commands right away" (what are all the commands?)
I know its a hard concept to swallow and understand, unless you train other species then canines. Once again, humans assume dogs understand English, which cant be further from the truth. Thats why its so easy to train dogs in other languages. So what does learning to learn really mean? Well in layman's terms, you can teach a animal to be a active operant thinker and take part in the learning process or you can use coercion. Coercion does not mean corrections or punishment. It just means you are making the animal do something instead of compelling the animal to do something. Its that simple. Teaching the animal what a secondary reinforcer is, which if done correctly with the correct tools, can accelerate learning by 50%. Also teaching the animal the contract between behavior and reward and or with holding reward. You can create a dumb animal or you can create a smart animal. Its really your choice. But as with everything becoming a student of animal behavior is a must. For more information on teaching dogs yo learn, check out some of my videos on DK TV. And don't get so caught up in "words and commands' After all, they mean nothing lol.