The Great Bed Experiment
Have you ever wanted to have your dog just lay down to be out from under foot?
Do you want to try an experiment that is easy, doesn’t require any special equipment, yet yields some great results?
Great! Let me share the great bed experiment with you and perhaps you too can find some great results!
Years ago, I thought it would be nice to work at my computer without all the dogs vying for the perfect spot beneath my feet. Like any other work day, I sat down at my computer, but this time, I had next to me a bowl of dog food. My dogs of course were swirling around my legs, playing with each other, etc. When one of them decided to walk into one of the dog beds next to my desk, I tossed a piece of dry dog food right into the bed. Needless to say, that dog inhaled that food while all the others stopped dead in their tracks and then dove for the bed searching for the food. Of course, they all ended up searching all over the room. Eventually, one of the dogs again ended up in a bed (maybe by accident, maybe on purpose – who knows, who cares). As soon as the dog ended up in a bed – I tossed a piece of food into that bed. After a few repetitions of this, the dogs were going into the beds and then looking at me – knowing that a treat would some sailing at them. It didn’t take long. I didn’t say a thing. The only thing I did was keep an eye on the dogs and toss a piece of food anytime they ended up in a bed. Within one morning of reading email, I had three dogs in their beds, waiting for the food that was being tossed. I upped the ante a bit. I started waiting for the dogs to lie down in the beds. Not long after that, the dogs got the message – go into the bed, lay down, and poof – a treat will be tossed. I got a little pushier later that day and decided to wait a few seconds and then toss a piece of food. I wanted to see if the dog would stay in the bed and not just hop in and out. Sure enough, it worked. I had dogs in beds. I repeated this throughout the day. I did this throughout the week. By the end of the week, I had dogs falling asleep in the beds. I would randomly toss treats to them throughout the day – whenever I “caught them in the beds”. At the end of the week, I dragged the beds into my kitchen and did the same thing – only this time while I was cooking dinner. Success! I had dogs wanting to go into their beds in the kitchen too. It was a pretty successful experiment.
So what are you really experimenting with here? The ability to create a behavior – in this case, the behavior is laying down in a dog bed, without having to say anything or lead or lure the dogs in any way. Some will classify this as “clicker training” and you can think of it that way - though there’s a lot more to talk about in regards to that topic. I’ll cover that in an upcoming post. For now, suffice it to say the success was that the dogs figured out how to “get me to give them treats”. They learned, through accident and then trial and error – that being in their beds was a rewarded activity. This is also a good experiment for learning how to observe your dog. How to catch your dog “doing good”. More on that topic on another post – because rewarding your dog for doing the right thing is more powerful and useful in training your dog, than punishing him for doing the wrong thing.
Good luck on your own experiment and let me know how it goes!