Blog - Classical Conditioning

Folk can get really confused when we start talking about classical conditioning as we tend to think only of the Russian experimental neurologist and physiologist Ivan Pavlov and his dog. However, it's not just about getting a dog to drool in relation to a bell going off, which is what Pavlov’s initial experiments were on dogs before he started applying the findings with children, but that’s another topic...

Classical conditioning is when someone, or something, has an ‘ah-ha moment’ and makes an association between two things that aren't linked, so in Pavlov's dog’s case, a bell and food...
Food arrived (Unconditioned Stimulus), the dog started to drool (Unconditioned Response) and a bell was rung (Neutral Stimulus). Over time and through repetition, the dog would have made the connection between the bell and the arrival of food and so started to drool (now a Conditioned Response) just at the sound of the bell (now a Conditioned Stimulus).

But it applies to other things as well.

So say for example, you're walking down the lane and you come to a signpost (US) and just as you approach the signpost a crow's scarer goes off (NS). The dog, getting a really big fright (UR), can have a stressed ‘aha moment’ and think the signpost and the crow scarer are related. And at that point, the dog has just ‘classically conditioned’ himself by pairing, by associating the signpost (CS) with the crow scarer (NS) responding with fear (CR) whenever it approaches that particular signpost (CS).

We condition our dogs initially to the whistle in the same way by quietly peeping on it (US) when the dog starts to eat (UR) and by peeping when the dog is with us and immediately feeding (NS). In a short space of time our dog will associate the sound of the whistle (CS) with food eliciting a reflexive response (CR) which will help to motivate the dog to return to us for something yummy.

So Classical Conditioning, also known as Pavlovian or Respondent Conditioning, is all about the dog making an association between two things that aren't necessarily related and that elicits a reflexive (outside of the control of the will) response.

first published 16 September 2023

buy the book - https://thepetgundog.co.uk/Home/Books
join the club - https://thepetgundogclub.com

Blog - Classical Conditioning

Folk can get really confused when we start talking about classical conditioning as we tend to think only of the Russian experimental neurologist and physiologist Ivan Pavlov and his dog. However, it's not just about getting a dog to drool in relation to a bell going off, which is what Pavlov’s initial experiments were on dogs before he started applying the findings with children, but that’s another topic...

Classical conditioning is when someone, or something, has an ‘ah-ha moment’ and makes an association between two things that aren't linked, so in Pavlov's dog’s case, a bell and food...
Food arrived (Unconditioned Stimulus), the dog started to drool (Unconditioned Response) and a bell was rung (Neutral Stimulus). Over time and through repetition, the dog would have made the connection between the bell and the arrival of food and so started to drool (now a Conditioned Response) just at the sound of the bell (now a Conditioned Stimulus).

But it applies to other things as well.

So say for example, you're walking down the lane and you come to a signpost (US) and just as you approach the signpost a crow's scarer goes off (NS). The dog, getting a really big fright (UR), can have a stressed ‘aha moment’ and think the signpost and the crow scarer are related. And at that point, the dog has just ‘classically conditioned’ himself by pairing, by associating the signpost (CS) with the crow scarer (NS) responding with fear (CR) whenever it approaches that particular signpost (CS).

We condition our dogs initially to the whistle in the same way by quietly peeping on it (US) when the dog starts to eat (UR) and by peeping when the dog is with us and immediately feeding (NS). In a short space of time our dog will associate the sound of the whistle (CS) with food eliciting a reflexive response (CR) which will help to motivate the dog to return to us for something yummy.

So Classical Conditioning, also known as Pavlovian or Respondent Conditioning, is all about the dog making an association between two things that aren't necessarily related and that elicits a reflexive (outside of the control of the will) response.

first published 16 September 2023

buy the book - https://thepetgundog.co.uk/Home/Books
join the club - https://thepetgundogclub.com