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Elephant training in a circus performance

The training of animals for a specific purpose is called dressage or training . The two expressions are often interchangeable (almost synonymous ), but “training” is used more for the training of farm animals for work purposes (falcons are trained to hunt (hunter's language: “removed”), avalanche dogs to search for buried subjects, cormorants for fishing, etc. .) while at a "training" rather tricks are practiced for the amusement of the holder or the audience (from the circus lions Dompteur it trained to jump through burning tires).

Dancing Bear (around 1800)


Trained monkey

The taming of wild animals and their demonstration by trainers was already known in ancient times . In Europe the first dressage of exotic animals was shown around 1800 in traveling menageries . But even before that, there were demonstrations of supposedly dancing bears by bear leaders .

In the event of undesirable behavior by the animal, punishments (e.g. blows, social deprivation) were or are used for training purposes. In countries with modern animal welfare laws, this is now prohibited. However, these do not apply everywhere and are not strictly applied everywhere. The means of modern dressage today are rewards such as praise, petting and food ( treats etc.) while observing animal welfare .

Comparative behavioral research

The behavioral research has explored the causes and possibilities of training readiness. It is based primarily on the principle of operant conditioning and on the ability of particularly highly developed animals to learn new modes of movement through trial and error and repetition that bring success (in the form of social affection or food). For this purpose, the trainer usually takes advantage of the animals' already existing, i.e. natural behavior, and strengthens or changes them.

If food is given as a reward for successfully completed training, it is referred to as food training. Such a feeding training also happens unintentionally with many pets when the caregivers often reward certain "funny" behaviors with a treat, for example "making male" of a rabbit or a guinea pig on the edge of the cage.

See also


  • Thorpe: The types of learning (1949)
  • Konrad Lorenz : About animal and human behavior (1971)
  • Carl Hagenbeck : Of animals and people. Experiences and experiences. List, Leipzig 1942.
  • Elsie Streiff: Elephants and their dressage. Swiss knowledge and experience . In: Ernst Günther, Heinz P. Hofmann, Walter Rösler (eds.): Cassette. An almanac for the stage, podium and ring (=  cassette ). No. 6 . Henschelverlag Art and Society, Berlin 1982, p. 172-179 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Dressage  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Animal training  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. entry train in: Hans Schulz, Otto Basler, Gerhard Strauss (ed.): Deutsches Fremdwörterbuch , 2nd Edition, Volume 4 ( Da capo - Dynasty ). De Gruyter, Berlin and New York 1999, pp. 908-912.