Nature vs. Nurture, Hardware vs. Software: Dogs and Dog Training 101 vs. Positive Techniques

nature vs. nurture -dog trainers in davis ca
A dog’s brain is like a computer, with training acting as programming to make it operable under various circumstances. Some dogs come with pre-installed "software" from their past training, while others require new or additional training to fit into your lifestyle. Just as computers have hardware that determines their processing power, dogs have genetics that influence their behavior and capabilities. Training methods (software) need to be compatible with the dog's natural instincts and abilities (hardware) to be effective.

Understanding The Analogy We Are Presenting About Dogs ( Nature vs. Nurture)

A dog’s brain is like a computer. Training is akin to programming that computer to be operable under the circumstances in which you need it to perform. Some computers, when you bring them home, have the software already installed. Others require you to install new or additional software to enhance performance and operability. Similarly, when you bring home a dog, you may enjoy the training it has already received, or you may need to provide new or additional training so it can blend into your lifestyle.

Computers also come with hardware. The hardware is what makes the computer turn on, powers it, allows it to process, and determines how efficiently it “thinks.” While installing software is one aspect of modifying or controlling your experience with your computer (or your dog), hardware is another crucial factor. For dogs, the hardware is their genetics. The software allows us to manage or operate the hardware, and the hardware determines performance at different speeds, rates, and qualities. However, unlike a modular computer, you cannot simply “replace the hardware” if it’s not as fast or efficient as the newest or highest-performing model. You must work within the parameters of your hardware.

You can, however, manage the hardware by using appropriate software. In dogs, this means we can “troubleshoot” their hardware (genetics), allowing us to work with or around intrinsic flaws. In training, this involves addressing instinctual or genetic behaviors and drives to our advantage by using methods that motivate the individual dog to learn as quickly and efficiently as possible. Alternatively, training can act as a “patch,” providing an alternative directive to manage or correct behavior.

This concept brings to mind the nature vs. nurture debate. The phrase “it’s all in how you raise them” becomes misleading. It’s not exclusively about nurture or “how you raise them,” but rather how you use software carefully and efficiently with the hardware you have to create a system that works best for your needs. This also means that you cannot simply combine any software with your current hardware. Your software must be compatible with the way your system’s hardware functions, or you’ll likely encounter errors or even system breakdowns.

Understanding Your Dog’s Brain and Body 

In other words, you have to train your dog with an understanding of the individual brain and body it has. Understand its limitations and possibilities, and use training compatible with how it learns and performs. For example, some dogs are built to chase small critters, while others are designed to keep your lap warm. These two brains are wired differently because these dogs were bred for very different functions over decades (or hardware development). You wouldn’t expect a low-budget work laptop to perform at the same rate as a high-end luxury gaming computer. They simply are not built the same way (hardware), and they’re not using the same software. However, both are computers, so with the appropriate software for their hardware, each can perform efficiently and smoothly.

Now the question is, “Do you know how to install the software for your version of hardware?” If you are unsure, reach out to one of the team members at Wholistic Canine that trains at Paws N Play. We can help you get the best version for your system, whether that involves installing hard cuddles, freedom to chase critters, or even teaching virus detection and monthly maintenance checks.

Recommended Reading on more Nature vs. Nurture:

To learn more about your dog’s hardware (genetics) and how it influences behavior, we highly recommend reading “Meet Your Dog” by Kim Brophey. This insightful book delves deep into the genetic makeup of dogs and how understanding their breed-specific traits can help you better train and care for your pet. By gaining a deeper understanding of your dog’s hardware, you’ll be better equipped to provide the appropriate software (training) that aligns with their natural instincts and capabilities.

nature vs. nurture -dog trainers in davis ca

Nature vs. Nurture, Hardware vs. Software: Dogs and Dog Training 101 vs. Positive Techniques

A dog’s brain is like a computer, with training acting as programming to make it operable under various circumstances. Some dogs come with pre-installed “software” from their past training, while others require new or additional training to fit into your lifestyle. Just as computers have hardware that determines their processing power, dogs have genetics that influence their behavior and capabilities. Training methods (software) need to be compatible with the dog’s natural instincts and abilities (hardware) to be effective.

Read More »
Picture of Terra Ruiz

Terra Ruiz

Terra Ruiz: Canine Relationship Coach and Licensed Family Dog Mediator

Terra Ruiz is a dedicated Canine Relationship Coach and Licensed Family Dog Mediator, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the field of dog training and behavior. With a strong foundation in various training methodologies and certifications, Terra is committed to helping families build strong, positive relationships with their dogs.

Share the Post:

Related Posts