Last month, I saw a amazing youtube video. A dog named Jumpy can write its name by having a brush in its mouth. I was amazed by that. Later I found more crazy videos. A cat can play piano, a dog can do simple math by barking, and a monkey can even drive. It seems that some animals can do crazy things after training. Thus I found some researches about this.
I find that people usually give animals some food for reward after they do what human wants them to do. They repeat this for a long time, and later animals can do certain thing. This is called classical conditioning-animals learn to associate two stimuli and thus to anticipate events (principle of psychology). Ivan Pavlov, one of the most famous physiologist in 20 century, did a famous lab about classical conditioning. “In order to eliminate possible influences, they isolated the dog in a small room, secured it in a harness, and attached a device to divert its saliva to a measuring instrument”(principle of psychology).
In classical conditioning, there are five major parts, unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, neutral stimulus, conditioned stimulus and conditioned response. Before conditioning, they presented some food, which is unconditioned stimulus, in front of the dog. The dog began to salivate, which is unconditioned response. Then they sounded a tone, which is a neutral stimulus. However, this time there is no salivation. During conditioning, they sounded a tone first, and then gave some food to the dog. After many trials, the dog would salivate( conditioned response), when the heard the tone (conditioned stimulus). Neutral stimulus usually causes nothing, but if the unconditioned stimulus is repeatedly presented after neutral stimulus, then neutral stimulus would became conditioned stimulus that cause conditioned response. In this case, researchers always presented some food after sounded a tone, which let the dog associate the tone and the food. Therefore, when it heard the tone, it would think of the food and then began to salivate.
Theoretically, By giving animals some rewards, we can teach them many simple things if we have time. If anyone is interested in this, you can definitely try this with your pets.