Children have natural advantages as trainers. Dogs like being with them, because they are playful and fun. All they have to do is learn a few simple training techniques and they’ll soon put grown ups in the shade.
Yesterday was a 7-poop walk. Just two from Claude and five from other dogs with owners, who either didn’t notice what their dog was doing, or didn’t have a poop bag at hand. I always carry at least two bags with me because Claude is a serial pooper. For example, this morning he pooped three-times on the walk. Nonetheless, I always try to get all the poops in one bag. I know this is more information than most of you need to know but this is interesting … I think I have unintentionally trained Claude to be a Poop Detection Dog — a PDDX in fact.
Lately, I have been taking a bunch of classical conditioning treats on walks because both Hugo and Claude have been jumped on and bitten recently. Claude simply ignores most attacks (as he ignores lots in life), but he is getting old and I would not want the onset of geriatric grumpies to change his stellar doggy demeanor. And so, whenever we see other dogs (and people), I offer him a food reward.
The other day was quiet and I had plenty of kibble left over and so, I gave Claude some food for simply being (existential treats) and while he was sniffing. After giving him a couple of pieces of kibble, I noticed that he had been sniffing poop from another dog and so I picked it up in Claude’s already occupied poop bag. (I always pick up other dog’s poop because that’s the only neighborly thing to do but also because I know that if there's any poop on the sidewalk anywhere, our neighbors would likely blame our dogs.) Now Claude normally takes a very (VERY) long time to learn new things (in terms of time and trials to criterion) but … I think he made a new association. I didn’t know he was sniffing poop when I offered him the kibble — it was quite by chance, but now I think he thinks that sniffing poop makes food happen. Yesterday, he located five unclaimed poops and after detecting each one, he looked at me expectantly. Moreover, after detecting the fourth poop, he actually sat. Well, I mean, I just had to give him a food reward for sitting. So yesterday, I returned home with seven poops in one bag (and that is probably some kind of record in itself — it takes a certain dexterity to be able to pick up poop with poop already inside the bag).
Today though, the haul was underwhelming. No detections at all. But we did walk the same route. Tomorrow, we’re going father afield.
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