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The term "observational learning" encompasses several closely related concepts: allelomimetic behavior or mimicking where, for example, puppies follow or copy others of their kind; social facilitation where the presence of another dog causes an increase in the intensity of a behavior; and local enhancement which includes pieces of social facilitation, mimicking, and trial-and-error learning, but is different from true observational learning in that the dog actively participates in the behavior in the presence of the other dog and/or other environmental cues. Four necessary conditions for observational learning are: attention, retention, motivation, and production. That is, the dog must pay attention to the dog or person performing the modelled behavior; retain the information gathered about the behavior during the observation; be motivated to reproduce the behavior in a time and place removed from the original; and finally, produce the behavior, or some reasonable facsimile thereof.
Don’t overwhelm your dog by expecting too much at first. Start slow by working on basic commands, such as “sit,” and keep training sessions short. You can gradually train your dog for longer periods of time and move on to more complex commands, such as “leave it,” once basic training is successful. As your dog learns these basic commands, it becomes easier to start training your dog on the more difficult ones.