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Matapato

Unintended training?

3 posts in this topic

Let me preface this post by saying I do not own a dog, but you all give me a bunch of that dog "fix" through all your stories. In order to return the favor a bit, I decided to share three stories of my uncle's dog, with whom I have spent a lot of time. I hope you enjoy this admittedly longish post.

On these forums, I read a lot of posts about how to get a dog to be quiet in a blind, how to point, heaven knows how many posts about tick medication, and all that other fun stuff which is a little more on the "serious" side of hunting dogs. Common to all of these stories, however, is the fact that repetition and consistency breeds learning. The following are three examples of how well a dog recognizes how repetitious and consistent we can be...

The first example of this I encountered late in the evening. My uncle developed a very consistent ritual he goes through before going to sleep. Turn out the lights, turn off the computer, put the dog in the kennel, and go to sleep. The dog, of course, learns this ritual very quickly, and very well. Little did we realize, however, what cues the dog uses to associate one action with the next. It turns out what the dog probably experienced was "getting darker, owner moving around, hear that funny noise, get in the kennel." And "that funny noise" was the Microsoft Windows "I'm shutting down now" tune. In fact, the dog achieved such a strong association between that tune and going into his kennel, that you can play that tune in the middle of the day and the dog will mope on back to his kennel, lay in it, and look at you kinda sheepishly.

The second example was handed directly to me, so to speak. I like to run/play with my uncle's dog a bunch. I live out near a nice lake and really near a whole bunch of big 'ol swamps. That means there are a ton of bugs around. It follows that my nice happy ritual before going outside with the dog always includes putting on a simple baseball cap. As I'm wandering around the house looking for my hat, I'm of course sorta talking to the altogether too-excited dog. Sometimes even saying things like, well, "where's my hat?" So I guess I shouldn't have found it too surprising that now I can look at the dog, say "where's my hat," and he'll go ape-wild-happy, run around the house like a mad nut looking for (and finding) my hat, and will bring it right to me. Not too surprising, but quite the crowd pleaser when visitors come by.

And the third example? Well, that's easy. To this day if I look at the dog, put my hands on my hips, and say, "What did I say?!", the dog sits like a champ.

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Dogs, they are so smart! As I sit here and smell this nasty fart my dog just let go, I think he is much smarter than me.

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