The Concept Of Reflexes In Dogs: General Concept

Reflexes in animals and humans are a form of communication between the body and the environment, and they always occur for certain reasons. It is noteworthy that reflexes occur without the participation of thought processes. Read below about the reflexes of four – legged Pets.

The General concept of the reflex

Under the influence of any external stimulus, the animal’s body performs a certain reaction that occurs with the participation of the Central nervous system. This phenomenon is called a reflex.

Reflex from Latin means “turn, reflect”. Reflex actions of the animal do not depend on thinking and consciousness. This was written by the great scientist Charles Darwin. He conducted an experiment in which he leaned toward a venomous snake, shielding his face with a thick transparent glass. The essence of the experience was not to lean back while throwing the snake. But as the scientist did not try, at the moment of throwing a poisonous snake, instinctively still jumped back.

The main feature of reflexes is that the body’s response to external stimuli is very useful, since it is aimed at preserving life. This property arose as a result of the evolutionary development of all living beings on the planet.

Unconditional reflexes: simple and complex

Inherited or innate reactions of the body to external stimuli are called unconditional reflexes. They are divided into two types:

  1. simple, for example, blinking of the eyes or a sharp withdrawal of the paw from a sharp object;
  2. complex, in another way they are called instincts. They are divided into two types:
    — the instinct of self-preservation (includes the instincts of protection, game, herd, food),
    — sexual instinct, aimed at the preservation and continuation of the race.

Instinct is a set of established behavioral responses to changing environmental conditions. If there are changes in the external environment, the dog easily adapts to them.

Complex reflexes include a chain of simple ones. For example, a female who takes care of her pups acts as follows: she licks, feeds, warms, and protects her offspring.

Instincts that have been formed for thousands of years allow newborn puppies to respond to changes in the environment in the same way as adults. Some of the instincts are awakened in the event of changes in the animal’s condition. For example, a dog with helminthiasis starts looking for and eating wormwood grass. In a healthy state, a four-legged pet will pass by such a plant.

Another example is sexual desire. With age, it fades and disappears, while in young individuals, on the contrary, it is maximum.

In older animals, the instincts may be due to years of experience. Food food search, for example, if you compare a puppy and an adult dog while searching for food, the latter will certainly come to the place where it used to get food, and the search for a puppy will be uncertain and slow.

When training dogs huge importance is given to the complex unconditioned reflexes of the situation. These reflexes are the actions of a four – legged friend, as a result of which he takes a certain position – stands, lies, sits down, runs, jumps.

Conditioned reflexes – education and types

The acquired reflex characteristic of a particular type of animal is called conditional. Such reflexes are not inherited, they occur throughout life. Conditioned reflexes appear only under certain conditions and are lost in their absence.

Thanks to these reflexes, the owner of the animal can control the behavior of his pet. During training and training, you can develop a certain reflex.

How do dogs develop conditioned reflexes? Consider their appearance on the example of the voice command “Sit”. The owner or trainer says the command aloud and touches the pet’s rump with his hand. First of all, this command is perceived by the hearing aid, then the impulses reach the cerebral cortex. This will be the first source of excitement. Then the second begins – from the pressure of the hand on the sacrum of the animal. Nerve impulses travel through the sensory nerves to the motor center in the cerebral cortex. The pet sits down.

If the trainer repeats this command several times, a new connection is formed between the motor center and the dog’s auditory organ in the cerebral cortex. After repeated repetitions, the pet will remember the command and will always sit down.

The types of conditioned reflexes are discussed below:

  1. Natural are formed as a result of the natural characteristics of unconditioned stimuli. For example, dog food is an absolute irritant. And when the pet eats, other reflexes are activated (unconditional): salivation and production of juice in the stomach. Natural reflexes in animals appear by living a certain experience, they are quickly fixed and remain for a long time.
  2. Artificial – arise as a result of the action of two different external stimuli on the animal’s body. I.e., the reflex is developed for the voice command “Sit” or “Lie down”, simultaneously supported by a treat. In order for the animal to have these reflexes, it is necessary to repeat the actions of two external stimuli several dozen times. When compared with natural reflexes, artificial reflexes are not as persistent and long-lasting.
  3. Coinciding – occurs in a dog when two stimuli act simultaneously, or the signal is given before the unconditional reflex for 0.5–2 seconds.
  4. Delayed – occurs when two stimuli act unevenly. For example, the first external stimulus starts, and the second connects after one minute.
  5. Trace – like a lagging one, it occurs due to the uneven impact of two external stimuli. For example, when the first stimulus is applied to an animal, the second one is activated only after five or more minutes.

From this article, you got a General idea of the reflexes of four-legged friends. Innate reflexes occur immediately after the dog is born. Then, in the process of gaining experience, each pet has its own reflexes. Conditioned reflexes and various instincts are a whole system that characterizes the overall reaction of the dog’s body to stimuli. The combination of innate and acquired reflexes makes up the psyche and behavioral character of the pet.