Psychology of dog behavior

Psychology of dog behaviorPsychology of dog behavior is not a simple science. The nervous system of the dog, like other animals, is designed to perceive and process information about its behavior. It adapts the dog's organism to the conditions of life, regulates the functioning of the organs and maintains the constancy of the internal environment.


Before we understand the formation of behavior, as well as its classification, we should note the role of the relationship of combined stimuli: the "analyzer", "cortical representation" of the unconditioned reflex and the "nervous center" of behavior control.


Reflex work is based on three principles: causality, structure, unity of analysis and synthesis. This made it possible to distinguish the conditioned reflex as the universal phenomenon acquired in the individual life of the organism, to determine the conditions for its formation and differences from the congenital, species reflex. Knowledge of conditioned reflexes serves as a basis for analyzing the mechanisms of brain activity, genetic, morphological, biochemical, biophysical, histochemical, psychological, pharmacological and other parameters of animal behavior.


The formation of a conditional act is determined by stimulation with sound, light signals only in a hungry dog, and the formation of a temporary connection is carried out according to the law of force. Its value is directly dependent on the strength of the conditioned stimulus: the stronger the signal, the greater the response. There is a limit beyond which another pattern already operates: the stronger the stimulus, the smaller the magnitude of the conditional act, and with a super-strong stimulus it cannot be observed at all in dogs. Often this law is manifested only at the beginning of the development of a temporary connection. In the future, the magnitude of the conditional act is affected by various circumstances related to stimulation and the state of the organism. So, for example, in a hungry dog, one power relationship between a stimulus and an answer is found, in a well-fed dog, another.


Analyzers call morphofunctional systems consisting of the peripheral end in the form of receptors located in the corresponding organ (eye, ear, nose, skin, muscles, internal organs, etc.), conducting pathways - from receptors to the brain - and finally, the central “end” in the form of a cluster of nerve and ganglial cells in a certain part of the cerebral cortex.The analyzer cannot be understood with an isolated study of its individual segments. Morphological and physiological studies of his showed that their peripheral and central "ends" have a two-way connection. If along the afferent pathways from the receptors, “information” about external events comes to the cortex, then from the cortex, via efferent pathways, it goes to the “information” receptor apparatus, which regulates their condition. Such “information” includes cortical impulses entering the senses. They also include adaptive-trophic effects of the vegetative nervous system on the senses. The presence of centripetal and centrifugal paths testifies to the fact that each analyzer is a system with direct and reverse links. The totality of the analyzers is a complex system - the brain. The analyzer receives, processes and, possibly, stores information. Any unconditional act has its own “cortical representation”, therefore any unconditioned arousal can reach the cortex of the dog's big hemispheres.


Vegetative conditional acts (secretory and vasomotor) are a copy of the unconditional reaction, on the basis of which they are developed; conditional are almost always less pronounced than unconditional ones.They are the same adaptive response as unconditional, but somewhat proactive effect on the body of favorable or unfavorable factors. As a result, the body is prepared to “meet” with these environmental factors. Such acts were called conditionally unconditional, or conditional reflexes of the first type. At present, many researchers designate them with classical conditioned reflexes, since the basics of higher nervous activity were studied using the example of a salivary conditional act. However, later it turned out that there may be cases of a different orientation compared with its unconditional basis. For example, when an indifferent agent is combined with irritation of the vagus nerve, causing a cardiac arrest for 2-3 s, a conditioned-reflex reaction is developed: the blood pressure, on the contrary, rises, and the heart rate increases, modifying the dog's behavior.


The motor-somatic conditional acts in many cases have a functional structure that distinguishes them from motor reactions. For example, a dog, when grabbing food, performs many different kinds of movements,on the basis of which it is possible to develop a completely new food-procuring movement in the form of pressing the forelimb on the pedal or setting the ring by the teeth (Fig. 6.1). Such reflexes were called conditional reflexes of the second type, or instrumental ones.


But motor reactions can be “classical” in those cases when they are a copy of the movements on the basis of which they were developed and their behavior was formed. For example, a conditional blink or reflex in the form of “withdrawing” of a limb in response to a pain stimulation signal is a copy of those unconditional answers that cause these irritations.


Thus, an unconditional (innate) reflex is a hereditarily fixed form of reaction to significant effects of the surrounding world or to changes in the internal environment of the body. The term was introduced by I. Pavlov and denotes a class of innate reflexes.


Unlike conditioned reflexes, congenital ones provide adaptation to changing conditions and do not depend on the availability of reinforcement. In its pure form, unconditioned reflexes practically do not exist. Ontogenesis, on their basis, builds up complex systems of conditioned reflexes, which, in combination with unconditioned reflexes, determine the flexibility and dynamism of the dog's behavior.


The acquired reflex is formed when any initial indifferent stimulus approaches in time with the subsequent action of the stimulus.


It is based on the development of new temporary links of relevant behavior. When repeated actions of irritation, if it does not serve behavioral acts, the reaction to it is weakened. The basis of such extinction is the process of cortical inhibition of behavior.


There are two types of conditional acts of behavior: 1) conditional classical acts, obtained in this way; 2) conditioned instrumental acts (operant) —in their elaboration, unconditional reinforcement is given only when a certain motor reaction occurs in the behavior.


Psychology of behavior of dogs. The biology of the formation of conditional acts was understood as the beating of the path between the centers of the conditioned and unconditioned reflex. Nowadays, the idea of ​​oo their mechanism as a complex system with a connection, organized on the principle of a ring and not an arc, is taken.


In dogs, reflexes form a signaling system and are considered in the appropriate class of this system.