Social learning in dog training: The effectiveness of the Do as I do method compared to shaping/clicker training

Claudia Fugazza, Ádám Miklósi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


Dog training methods traditionally rely on individual learning (mainly operant conditioning). Yet dogs are adept in acquiring information socially and are able to imitate humans. Dogs' predisposition to learn socially has been recently introduced in dog training with the Do as I do method. With this method dogs first learn to match their behaviour to a small set of actions displayed by a human demonstrator on command 'Do it!' and later are able to generalise this rule to use it to learn novel actions. In the present study, we compare the effectiveness of the Do as I do method with that of shaping/clicker training, a method that relies on individual learning, for teaching dogs two different kinds of actions: a body movement and an object-related action. As measures of effectiveness, we use the number of dog-trainer pairs experienced with either method, that succeed in obtaining five performances in a row of the predetermined action within 30. min and the latency to the fifth performance. Additionally, we assess the effect of these training methods on dogs' memory of the trained action and its verbal cue in different contexts. Our results show that the Do as I do method is more effective than shaping/clicker training to teach dogs object-related actions within a relatively short time and suggest that this method might be also applied for training body-movements. Importantly, the use of social learning enhances dogs' memory and generalisation of the learned action and its verbal cue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-151
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015



  • Do as I do
  • Dog
  • Dog training
  • Generalisation
  • Memory
  • Social learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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