Shaped by Dog with Susan Garrett

Susan Garrett, world-renowned dog trainer, multi-time champion of dog agility, and leading educator on all things canine shares everything related to dogs! Susan understands dog behaviour and wants you and your dog to have the best life together possible.


episode 174: Dopamine In Dog Training: Anticipation, Rewards, And the Transfer Of Value #174

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We’re geeking out the topic of dopamine in dog training and how it impacts a dog’s motivation. Dopamine is a type of  neurotransmitter, and there’s a lot of research on its relation to the drive to seek out happiness. Now, you might be wondering what it has to do with dog training but to make sure our dogs want to work with us, it’s something we need to know, and it relates directly to my training protocols and transfer of value.


In the episode you'll hear:


• How and when dopamine gets released in a dog’s brain.
• About an experiment by Robert Sapolsky on dopamine spikes with a cue, behaviour, and reward.
• How a dopamine spike would relate to me and vegan chocolate chip cookies.
• That dopamine relates to the transfer of value in dog training (the thing before the thing).
• What the research shows about the difference between luring and shaping and dopamine.
• About research on blocking dopamine and how it impacts motivation.
• What a suppressed level of dopamine does and how that relates to dogs.
• What I’ve noticed with my young dog This! and how I’m particular about her training.
• About foods and supplements that support healthy dopamine production.
• The effects of too much dopamine and what I observed with my dog Buzz.
• How I give my dogs a calm walk once a week for a dopamine detox.
• Why to look at your dog training to see if your dog is getting healthy dopamine spikes.




1. Paper (PDF): A Neural Substrate of Prediction and Reward - Authors: Schultz, W.; Dayan, P.; Montague, P.R. -
2. YouTube Video: Wolfram Schultz - Dopamine: from movement via reward to rational choice -
3. YouTube Video: Dopamine Jackpot! Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure -
4. Paper: Dopamine reward prediction error coding- Author: Wolfram Schultz, MD, FRS -
5. Article: Why does the brain have a reward prediction error? – Author: Mark Humphries -
6. YouTube Playlist: Reinforcement, Permissions and Transfer of Value in Dog Training with Susan Garrett -
7. Paper: Dopamine Modulates Effort-Based Decision-Making in Rats – Authors: Mark E. Bardgett, Melissa Depenbrock, Nathan Downs, Megan Points, Leonard Green -
8. Book: Shaping Success by Susan Garrett -
9. Watch this Episode of Shaped by Dog on YouTube -


 2022-08-31  14m