What was the name of Pavlov's dog

Pavlov's experiments: how does learning work in dogs?

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov laid the foundation for many learning theories. The Russian doctor and scientist carried out experiments with dogs and observed how their behavior can be evoked by certain stimuli. He demonstrated the so-called classic conditioning with the series of experiments, which is known for short under the name "Pawloscher dog".

In his experiments, Pavlov "conditioned" dogs to certain stimuli. The dogs learned that feeding takes place in response to certain stimuli (here the bell). After a while they responded to the bell ring alone by salivating without seeing the food.


Originally, Pavlov, who carried out experiments as a professor at the Military Medical Academy in Saint Petersburg, wanted to investigate the connection between salivation and digestion in dogs. But during this work he came across another interesting aspect. The test dogs received their meals regularly from animal keepers. After a while the sounds of the approaching zookeepers alone caused the dogs to salivate, even though there was no food in sight.

Can behavior be trained to respond to certain stimuli?

The salivation that occurs in the dogs at the mere noise perception of the guards bringing the food was the origin of Pavlov's learning theory, classical conditioning.

Pavlov concluded from the behavior of the dogs that behavior must be a reaction to stimuli from the outside world. But he had to prove that first. The Pavlovian Dog experiment served him as evidence:

When Pavlov gave the dog food, it made the dog salivate. He called the food the unconditioned stimulus, which was followed by an unconditioned response. The unconditioned response was salivation. Unconditioned in this case means that the stimulus and the reaction happen involuntarily: The dog is hungry, which is why his mouth watered at the sight of the food.

Pavlov added a neutral stimulus to this stimulus-reaction constellation. Neutral because it basically has nothing to do with feeding. The neutral stimulus was the ringing of a bell just before feeding. This bell did not cause saliva to flow, it just made the dog prick up its ears. The dog did not initially associate the bell with the food. But after several connections between ringing the bell and the subsequent feeding, the dog's behavior changed. Now the salivation started already when the bell rang and the food was not yet within reach. Pavlov called this reaction a conditioned, that is, a learned reaction. The neutral stimulus, the ringing of the bell, thus became a conditioned stimulus. The dog has learned that the sound of the bell is related to the food, which is why the saliva was already running when it sounded.

What does classical conditioning mean?

Pavlov called the process of this learned behavior classical conditioning. The classic conditioning, the learned connection between a once neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus, could be deleted again in the case of Pavlov's dog. After the bell rang several times without feeding, it also stopped salivating. That is, the conditioned stimulus, the ringing of the bell, became a neutral stimulus again.

Basis of many learning theories

Classical conditioning is the basis of many learning theories. With the help of the principles of classical Pavlov conditioning, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder can be treated, among other things. For example, conditioned fears in connection with traumatic experiences can usually no longer be erased. For example, war veterans who were tortured during a shootout will wince at the same noises on television even years later. This means that the complete deletion of a classical conditioning is almost impossible, depending on the experiment or experience.

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