June 11, 2007

Pavlov's Dog



My friend Janyne came to visit last night. She is a really good dog trainer, she enjoys it and it comes naturally. She's always taught her dogs to ring a bell when they want to go outside, so I asked if she'd teach Ruby and me while she was here.

So between dinner and the strawberry shortcake, she took Ruby to the back door with a baggie of hot dogs and went to work. She kept saying how easy Ruby was to train, that she has constant eye contact, but that it would probably take a few sessions for her to really get it. We know Ruby is smart. The minute we put her in a crate at the age of 9 weeks, she sat down in front of the latch and licked it very carefully for about 30 minutes while Stan and I stared fearfully. She'd never even seen a crate before! Also, Luke trained her to sit verbally and with hand signals before I even knew he was attempting to.

So, Ruby got it! She understands the bell thing. All through dessert she was ringing the bell, I was getting up and opening the door and she'd bounce out onto the porch. She'd look up at me for a piece of hot dog (which I'd stopped giving her long before) or a nice belly rub. Then we'd go back inside. I'd sit down to eat. The bell would ring. Janyne would declare proudly, "She rang the bell," and give me a look like, weellll... I'd take another delicious bite of homemade shortcake with heavy cream whipped with sugar and vanilla, get up, open the door, Ruby would excitedly bounce out, etc. I was up and down about 5 times during dessert. That is, until I got smart and hung the bell out of her reach. No dog is going to control me like that.

7 comments:

chocolatechic said...

I wouldn't have gotten up from that home made short cake for anything......well, maybe if the house was on fire.

Anita said...

My dog, Teddy, rings the bell to go out. Not to be contrary, but it is the one trick that you should not use treats to reward. The reward is "going outside". Otherwise, as you have learned, your smart dog will be ringing that bell like a maniac.

When you go to take Ruby out normally, encourage her to touch the bell with her nose before you open the door. Say, "Ruby, ring bells.". If she doesn't do it, ring them for her, and then open the door. It will take longer to get her ringing them reliably, but within about two weeks, she'll have it down pat and really just ring them to go outside.

Teddy does great with it, but I will tell you that every once in awhile he wants me to play with him, and he'll ring the bell and then run away trying to get me to chase him. But it's rare. 90% of the time, he truly wants OUT.

Paul said...

You're smart.

Jennie said...

anita, what you've said makes perfect sense to me. I think it was the wrong thing to do, especially with this dog. My great dane was not food driven at all and she couldn't have cared less if she got treats, but Ruby is another animal! Today I was eating leftover salmon, she watched me and smelled it in the air and she ran to the back door and rang the bell!

Anita said...

Jennie, lol! Dogs are so smart. Mine is sooo food driven. He'll do anything for a tidbit of kielbasa. I mean anything. He does fabulous in obedience school because he is so focused on earning the treat. Of course, when I don't have a treat he does squat.

sophie said...

I think some dogs just don't do so well with the food motivator. I took an incredibly stubborn (and hungry all the time) dog to classes where we used hot dog bits. He did learn to sit, but he also thought that EVERY time he sat he should get food. If he didn't, he started barking like a maniac. He failed the class...or we did, whatever.

Here from Michele's.

rosemary said...

When we tried to teach Violet the bell trick/handy potty notifier...the clanging scared her to pieces and she hid under the bed......it was just a little bell.