Dog and Puppy LEARNING AND Memory
The dog's brain allows it to learn in two different ways: the first one, throughout the so called "classical conditioning" based on the realization of basic associations; the second one is called "instrumental conditioning" or "operative" and consists in associating acts and consequences.
From the work made by the Russian physiologist Pavlov (1839 – 1936) probably the best known part is his study of the conditioned reflexes of the dog. Pavlov discovered the conditioning in a casual way while investigating the digestion. He needed to take some saliva samples from his laboratory dogs, so in order to stimulated the salivation, he came out with idea of putting some meat flavor inside the dog's mouth. Soon he found out that the dog began to salivate just by seeing the investigator, anticipating itself to the fact that he was going to introduce meat flovor inside its mouth.
Pavlov tried associating other stimulus (like the sound of a bell) and the meat and confirmed that the dog salivated when perceiving those stimulus even on the absence of the meat. Any owner may have noticed other associations like this one, specially when he goes into the kitchen with his dog.
It may be even more important to this aspect, the work made by the north American behavior analyst physiology B. F. Skinner (1904 – 1990) who demonstrated in an irrefutable way the capacity of the dog to learn how to modify and adapt its conduct according to the past experiences and the consequences of its actions. Thanks to this discovery, it is possible nowadays to train the dog using even more refined techniques every time, that stand on the fact that the dog can make decisions, using its memory to remember facts and recognize people or objects and communicate its intentions, even when it is not using verbal signs, as we do.
Dog LANGUAGE AND THE GESTURES
The dog's body language is very similar to the wolf's. However, the facial features, the dimensions and the shape of the body and the length of their hair have modified in such a way that it is harder to identify the wolf-like gestures.
As a general rule, anyone can notice when a dog is quiet and relaxed because of its relaxed position and the neutral expression of its face. Its ears are in the normal position of each breed, its tail will be hanging down and its body, in general, won't look crouched or stretched. The dog may have the eyes half closed and the muscles of the neck and snout will look relaxed.
If a dog that is sure of itself is trying to apply any kind of authority or dominate another dog, it will show a very different aspect. The dog will try to look as massive and powerful as possible in front of the other one, with straight ears, straighten head and neck and the whole body slightly arched and prepared to attack.