Whenever my husband and I sit at the table, our dog Aero lies down on a mat. Going to her mat is a reliable behavior. We often only reward her as we’re ending our meal. Aero will lay there for about 20 minutes for one or two morsels.
Then my 80 year old father visited. We asked him not to feed Aero from the table. Not only did he “sneak” food to her, he fed her bits of bacon as she jumped and barked at the table. As he’s feeding her, he tells me how terribly trained she is! He was actually doing a great job of training her to do the exact opposite of what we wanted her to do. As Bob Bailey says, “Training the animal is the easy part.”
Realizing there’s no training my dad, I remediate Aero’s mealtime mat behavior. I stuff and freeze food puzzles as well as load the Pet Tutor. Aero is given a frozen food puzzle or access to the Pet Tutor for laying on her mat during mealtime with my dad.
So why is Aero’s behavior so dynamic? She has duration on her mat with minimal distractions, but terriers cannot resist bacon-feeding fathers. Or can they? I need to fortify Aero’s mat behavior , one distraction at a time.
Thank you, Aero, for being my dynamic teacher. You helped me wake up and smell the bacon. Find us at www.behaviorunited.com and follow us on social media.