Dogs don't generalize well?

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Laurelin, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Is that really true? I hear it all the time.

    Mia and I have been working on picking up objects and putting them into a box. Once the general concept was down it moved very very quickly to where she is understanding picking up many shapes and sizes and textures of objects and putting them in the box. I've changed the size of the box, the object, the location of the box, the location of the training session, etc and she seems very able to understand that 'put it away' means put the thing in the box. We did have some issue with toys because she'd want to play with them instead of put them away and would fixate a bit on them but that's a different issue than not knowing what to do.

    ^^ Just one example that makes me think.
     
  2. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    Dogs can learn to generalize well. Typically if a dog gets a lot of training where they are having to generalize multiple behaviors, they get better and better at it.

    Dogs that don't have much experience with that have a hard time.
     
  3. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    I think generalizing is a skill you can teach. Some dogs are better about it than others, as with everything. Pepper doesn't generalize, that's for **** sure LOL.
     
  4. Greenmagick

    Greenmagick New Member

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    I think dogs that are taught certain ways have a harder time generalizing. I think when they are taught to do a lot of figuring things out on their own etc they are better at it.

    A lot is also going to depend on the dog and what the human is assuming in the first place;)
     
  5. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    I think some are better at it than others. I would say dogs as a species don't tend to generalize very well (at least compared to humans), but that doesn't mean they don't generalize at all, or that some dogs aren't good at it.

    Watson has always been pretty good at generalizing. It takes him a while to learn a new trick or behavior and understand what I want, but once he has it, he's never had a problem doing it in a new location or context. Distractions are a different story, but that's different than not understanding the cue. For example, I taught him that "paws" meant put your front paws on something. Once he knew it on one object in my kitchen, he could do it with any object anywhere. I don't know if he really knew the cue so much at that point, or if he was putting together the context of me pointing at a low flat object, means I probably want him to put his feet on it. Either way, I think it's generalizing.

    I agree that the style of training probably helps. Dogs who are pattern trained are not going to generalize as well as a dog who was taught to think through what they're doing and make the right decision.
     
  6. krissy

    krissy New Member

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    If my dog could generalize on her own I wouldn't have to teach her to pivot in both directions. But alas... lol.

    I taught her to pivot into heel position early on (counter-clockwise). And then recently for backwards figure 8s I just had to push that understanding to pivot further around my leg until she went through my legs. But when I went to get her to do the other side she had no clue (I was expecting this fortunately). Instead of thinking "Oh, I need to pivot clockwise" she just thought "Pivot?" and would try to pivot counter-clockwise still. Once I helped her then absolutely the concept came to her fairly quickly, but left to her own devices I'm not sure she would have figured that one out. Maybe a smarter dog. lol
     

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