Monday, January 7, 2013

Jedi's First Silly Trick

I saw a video where Dr. Sophia Yin taught her dog to get into a box using just operant conditioning techniques. I wondered if I could do something similar with Jedi. I saw a cheap Tap Light knock-off at Walgreens and thought “Why not?” I’ve wasted $4 on worse things (i.e. a creepy Sponge Bob balloon.) I grabbed the Tap Light, the clicker and a hand full of dog treats then set off to see how smart my puppy is. Hubby and Son #1 thought I was crazy.

I put the light on the floor and ignored it. In true puppy fashion, Jedi ran over and sniffed it, nosed it, licked it, chewed it and eventually stepped on it. When the light came on I clicked the clicker and gave him a treat, saying absolutely nothing. Jedi looked at me, barked at me and gave me an excellent sit, while trying to figure out how to score another treat. (Did I mention that he’s extremely food motivated?) I ignored him and he went back to the Tap Light. Soon enough he pawed at it and the light turned on. I immediately clicked and treated again, still saying nothing. Jedi grabbed the treat, gave me a funny look and went back to the Tap Light. Within five minutes he figured out that if he pawed at the light he got a treat. At one point he was stomping on it so much that I couldn’t click fast enough. To prove to Hubby and Son #1 that it wasn’t a coincidence, I moved the Tap Light 6 feet away. Jedi ran across the room, jumped on the light, and ran back to me before I could finish clicking. He's a smart puppy!

It’s been a couple days since I introduced the Tap Light. I’m now adding a verbal command – TAP – and trying to shape his tapping from a frenzied stomp to a clean, deliberate tap. All in all, I think it was an interesting experiment, resulting in a silly, useless dog trick for Jedi and a check in the “New Year’s Resolutions” box for me. Keep logging in to see what he learns next! -- K