Friday, May 9, 2014

Do As I Say, NOT As I Do.

The latest fad in pet training leans heavily on what is technically called "social learning" to teach your dog new tricks. Some of us might just call it 'monkey see- monkey do'.  

I tried this with my pup.  He caught on really well, but I'm not sure it's such a great idea after all.  For example, this morning we were out in the yard and I spotted the first iris in bloom.  I bent over to smell it, and as soon as I raised my head pup stuck his nose in the flower.  I guess his teeth had olfactory sensors too, because when he drew his head back, the entire blossom was stuck in his teeth.  He didn't learn that from me!

Later, when we were in the kitchen, pup stood right beside me at the counter, with his front feet resting on the countertop, just like me!

Earlier in the evening he took the lid off of the tray of cookies, just like the kids did!

So I've come to some conclusions.  Dogs have been imitating people for thousands of years.  Until now, we've just been to smart to encourage it.  In fact, I think the whole point of developing training systems has been to discourage imitative behaviour.

No!  Don't put your feet on the countertop, even if I do.

No!  Don't pick the flowers, even if I do.

No! Don't stand on your hind legs, "speaking" to and pawing at the guests at the front door, even if I do.

Et cetera.

Maybe it is just a system for tiny ankle biters.  Unfortunately my pup will be around 100 pounds full grown.  

Perhaps I'll try it with the cats.