THE COGNITIVE APPROACH
believes that animal behaviour is the expression of a mental condition as well as of a subjective perception of reality. In other words, it assumes that animals not only feel, but also think. The cognitive approach thus differs from approaches based on stimulus-response conditioning, according to which each stimulus is followed by an automatic response. Accordingly, the cognitive approach replaces traditional dog training approaches, often relying heavily on the distribution of treats, with a pedagogical approach, based on dog’s motivations and emotions.
studies the relationship between humans and other animal species: it explores and analyses the extent to which animals have contributed and enriched the development of humans and their culture. As far as the domain of kynology is concerned, zooanthropology aims to ensure an appropriate and responsible dogmanship. This means that a relationship based on mutual respect, trust, accreditation and cooperation between dogs and their owners is by far more meaningful and enriching for both parties than one based on the mere obedience of the animal to the human.
THE COGNITIVE ZOOANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACH
not only differs from any type of training based on coercion and punishment, but also from the so-called ‘gentle method’ based on positive reinforcement. The zooanthropological cognitive approach is, indeed, gentle: it refuses coercion and it fully respects canine ethological characteristics. Yet, it also goes much further: it assumes that dogs have minds with species-specific cognitive potentials (the way of thinking of a dog is different from that of a cat) as well as breed-specific vocations (a Galgo likes to do different things from a Great Dane). In order to stimulate and develop new learning abilities and ignite new learning processes, which will eventually result into behavioural changes, these species-specific and breed-specific features need to be taken into consideration.
The relationship between dog and owner is the core of the pedagogical project, because the owner acts as a mediator of knowledge: the owner provides experiences, which must be geared to the abilities and potential of the dog.