Dog Journal entry 6-26-17
On June 23, I posted an entry describing my concern of how I would keep Bernie from stealing Chris’s food.
I received a wonderful solution. Have one dog eat in the Casita bathroom while the other dog ate elsewhere.
Bernie is too large to fit in the Casita bathroom. He barely fits in my Park Model bathroom. Chris is wary of closed spaces. He is also ‘almost-too-large’ to fit into the tiny bathroom.
My solution was to shape Bernie’s behavior.
Shaping is a fancy way to describe modifying animal behavior. (humans are animals too)
There are books describing how to shape behavior. Essentially it involves using the baby-step method, followed by praise. For example, creating a food trail to nudge an animal into a trap.
The current feeding issue was that Bernie would quickly finish his food and then try to eat Chris’s food. My current solution was to feed Bernie in the office and feed Chris in the bedroom… behind a closed door.
When Chris was finished, he would give a single bark. It was my (and Bernie’s) signal. Me… to open the door and Bernie to rush in and completely finish anything in the bowl and lick it mirror-finish clean.
I was so busy analyzing how to baby-step shaping Bernie’s behavior, I neglected to consider his intellect. Bernie is a smart dog.
Here is what happened. The only thing I did was leave the bedroom door open. I did this for three days… I feed the dogs twice a day. So, Bernie exhibited this behavior six separate times.
The photos tell the story.
Chris is eating his food in the bedroom.
Bernie has eaten his food and passes by the open bedroom door. Chris is eating his food. Bernie glances in the bedroom door but doesn’t enter.
Bernie lays by the bedroom door, waiting for Chris to finish eating.
Once Chris is finished, Bernie goes into the bedroom and cleans up.
So much for shaping Bernie’s behavior. The only thing I did was leave the door open. Bernie recognized the ‘food barrier.’
This is just a tiny sample of how I manage to create a problem that didn’t exist. (I worry too much).