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Applications of Game Theory

Cognitive and Constructive Learning

There are hundreds of different ways to teach and a thousand ways that life is being lived. There is classical and operant conditioning; there is social and associative learning; trial and error and memorizing facts and figures. Each of us creates a pattern of actions that assist us in learning and in playing the game of life. But the one pattern, the one learning scenario that is gaining prominence and proof, the one that appears to deliver results in all arenas is Game Theory. 

It is interesting to note that the purported reasons for living and the reasons for playing a game are the same. Research has shown us that by studying the elements of games, we find ourselves learning about the elements of life. Those components are: purposes, rules and the freedom one has to fail or win via the power of choice.

Those basic components are the same no matter what game is being played, your role in the game or whether you even know you're playing a specific game. Those components appear to be:

1.How energy is used

2.Choice and its relationship to winning the game

3.How barriers and frustration can teach more

4.Knowledge and how to gain it within the game

5.How to turn failure to success

6.How to start, change or stop any part of a game

7.How to analyze situations and deal with confusion

These components are the same and govern the training and education of our dogs. Your role is one of guidance and example. You are the one who is aware of the game and its rules and purposes. That awareness allows you to bring your dog to being aware of those rules and purposes and his role in your human world.

Training should not be about finding what is wrong with a dog and attempting to change that, it isn't even really about teaching new things. Training should be about making a dog better at being a dog. Using the dog's abilities and instincts and aligning them to our understanding of life and the world around us.

By helping a dog obtained or enhance their natural abilities, you create a dog that can observe and interact with the environment with confidence and certainty and thus has less and less need to "fight" anything.

Games provide a platform of training that covers all the necessities of life. Games enhance observation and the ability to make informed decisions. Games increase confidence in dealing with novel and unique experiences, understanding the rules and how to live without stress. Training with games teaches that failure is just another way of learning and not something to be avoided. Training with games gives control to the dog, understanding to the dog, and less and less need by the human to be constantly alert. So rather than concentrating on the elimination of problem behavior, your choice as a trainer or owner should became a decision to increase a dog's abilities which, in turn, handle problems as a matter of routine.

Games can literally be applied by anyone. At most, a good structured game should have no more than three movements from the human and one or two from the dog. Games take into consideration that we learn in small quantities and not in large chunks. Shaping, which is the clicker trainers stock in trade, is a fundamental precept of structured games. This makes it easy to train not only the dog, but the human owner as well and raises confidence in both dog and human; responsibility of the human toward the dog; and the owners influence over the actions of the dog.