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How Do Dogs Learn?

Dogs are one of the smartest animals that humans commonly have as pets.  However, even the smartest of them require some degree of training in order to perform the sort of tasks and tricks we request.

Understanding more about how dogs learn can help us to streamline the education process by using techniques most effective at showing results and avoiding ones that are counterproductive.

Here are some of the ways dogs learn:


Like little children, dogs will learn to perform a certain action if there is a reward provided for doing so. Also like kids, dogs will try and get away with certain behaviors to see what will and will not fly. Rewarding the ones that you find acceptable will encourage the dog to repeat those, rather than something useless and/or destructive.

Replace Bad Behaviors With Good Ones

If your dog is doing something you don’t like, it is important to discourage them. However, being overly harsh will only damage the bond of trust you have with your animal; he is then less likely to obey you in future.

Whenever you see the dog doing something bad (e.g. chewing on furniture), admonish them, but also try to distract them into doing something positive. When the dog performs this preferable action, reward it. That way, the dog will think more about what will bring them food and acceptance from you, rather than a scolding.

Provide Immediate Reactions to Their Actions

When your dog does something negative, make sure they know this is not good. Similarly, when they do something right, clearly praise them. Yelling at a dog hours after it has eaten garbage is useless because the dog will not realize what you are mad about. However, catching him in the act and firmly expressing your unhappiness will help instruct him not to do it again.

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What Do Animal Shelters Do?

Many cats and dogs have happy, steady homes, but they are also a great many that exist in the wild. Those animals are not neutered, so they breed and create more cats and dogs that must then live in the same conditions. Various strategies have been tried to address this ongoing issue and animal shelters tend to be the most widely employed solution.

Animal shelters provide temporary care for stray dogs and cats. Pet overpopulation can result in a number of problems for city and town residents, not to mention detrimental health for the animals, which are often on the verge of starvation. How these organizations are run varies from state-to-state as per that area’s laws.

Shelters cannot solve the problem of overpopulation on their own. However, they are highly useful when it comes to reducing the spread of diseases, such as rabies, among the animal populations, and finding homes for these cats and dogs.

In addition to handling strays, shelters also take in animals that have been surrendered by their owners. This can be due to behavioral or health issues that the owner cannot cope with, or the fact that the people are moving to a new home that will not allow them to bring their animal along.

The animals are offered to the public for adoption, and people who select a dog or cat then pay an adoption fee. Animal shelters are run on a not-for-profit basis, so this money goes towards paying staff salaries and the associated costs that come with running such an organization.

A good animal shelter is clean, run by patient and helpful employees who understand the issues dogs and cats can face, and take steps to reduce the amount of stress the animals experience while in their care. Many people find wonderful pets through these organizations, but the sheer number of strays means that some never leave and must be euthanized.

You can do your part by adopting pets from these organizations, rather than buying your cat or dog from a breeder or pet store. Animal shelters treat their animals for diseases and other health issues, as well as neutering them before adoption. These costs are typically included in the fee.