Saturday, April 11, 2009

Click and Treat

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It is a simple yet brilliant premise: behavior + click = treat. You can call it postive reinforcement or operant conditioning. You can call it bribery for all we care. Here at caninaturalist central, we know it as only one thing: the best way to achieve harmony within our home.

Although she might not always act like it, Ari has graduated from multiple dog school sessions--multi-week courses ranging from basic behaviors, to "clicks and tricks," even to (my favorite) "manners for the real world." Did we pass with flying colors? Definitely not. Did we need extra credit whenever we could get it? Absolutely. We're probably never going to pass our canine good citizen test, but we at least internalized the basic premise of each of these courses: do something good, and you get a treat.

These are words to live by at our house.

But what if you do something and your human isn't there to see it? Say, you resist the urge to chase a feline housemate. Or you bark at the UPS guy who has the audacity to leave a package on your door. Or you achieve a perfect sprawl across the bed that really, when it comes right down to it, is nothing short of art. No one was there to click that behavior. But you're sure--no, make that absolutely certain--that the human would have done so if she had seen it. And you also know perfectly well that a click is always, always, always followed by a treat.

The human's not there to do that part, either. But you're a good dog, right? And good dogs get treats, right? And if you happen to know where those treats are kept (and your HULA membership is still all new and shiney), then who could possibly blame you for doing a little self treating? Just a biscuit. Or two. Or ten. It's like homework, right? Or maybe even an independent study. And you know for a fact that it was well deserved.

Surely any reasonable human can't argue with that kind of logic, right?


Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

It is nice to see the inner husky emerging in our Ari!


The Army of Four said...

Woo. Way to go, Ari. I helped myself to a snack once. It was a bunch of bananas that were on top of the magic cold box. Mom didn't think it was funny, but when she asked the vet about a pup "hypothetically" eating a couple bananas, peel and all, SHE thought it was rather amusing. Hey. I was hungry. And a good boy.
I love your pose on the steps. You deserve three cookies for that!

Stella said...

My Mom cut my ration down by 1/4 of a cup. Today she came in where the kibble is kept and found I got the top off, and was eating my 1/4 cup and maybe more. So whats wrong with that? I was hungry and those eensy treats she buys don't do anything for me. A dogs gotta do what a dogs gotta do and thats all there is to it! Right, Ari?


henbogle said...

Hee hee. Nice photo, too. I would suggest moving the flour well out of canine reach. I am absolutely certain that flour+canine saliva=glue. Oh, and keep the butter out of reach, too. :-)

Congrats on the book!

Tracey and Huffle said...

My mum says she could not argue with that and that Ari should get extra treats for being so logical.

Huffle Mawson

The Thundering Herd said...

Salute, Ari! We love it when the Siberian ways are exposed. Our food is kept inside a locking container inside a closed closet. Wonder why?

Me and my puppies said...

Ari, you go for it girl! Everyone needs their treats.

Charity, Gary, Katie and Louie said...

We think your logic is perfect.

Love and Licks,
Katie and Louie the Newfs

Amber and Nala said...

Oh Ari, I think self treating is the best way to learn! And yes, it is all in the name of practice and making our humans proud!! Way to go!


Suzuki said...

Happy Easer!

Don't furget to stop by my blog and check out my 100th post and enter the contest fur your chance to win some really cool prizes!

Big licks to you

PeeS - Bark Kent is a girl doggie :) But I know Scooby has a new client you may be interested in. He hasn't uploaded the profile yet but I will tell him to let you know when he does.

Lorenza said...

Good job Ari!
Kisses and hugs

Scooby Doo said...

Hi Ari
Suzuki asked me to let you know when I had uploaded my latest client as she thought he would be a match fur you. His name is Travis. If you like what you see, just leave him a comment on his profile and I will tell him to check it.
Hugs from the Stud
Scooby Doo

DogzRock! said...

I wonder if you will like me or not,I hope you do,you are very pretty!!!

Love Travis

P.S Scooby and Suzi sure are rushing us into this LOL:P

Kess And Her Mama said...

Hey Ari, You did good. You defintely deserved the click and the help yourself treat!

Turbo the Sibe said...

Roo Roo will try to grab the plate my Humann is eating off of!

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

That sounds really awesome but for the deaf ones it is a sign then a treat!! We are pretty good at sign language..
That UPS guy is the highlight of our day along with the mailman!!
Funny how they usually don't even come up the drive until there is a human there.. he he

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Marigold said...

Dearest Ari,
I would do this to the Peanut jar, too, ... if I could get at it. You go, doggie girl!!!

DogzRock! said...

Hey Ari
I was thinking of buying a paperback version of your book.How many Australian dollars will It Cost???

Love Travis

Oh and P.S I would like to ask you if you will properly go out with me, what do you say Yes Or No?

fame-game said...

So Ari is taking the route of some other well known famous folks. Being a scofflaw seems, at times, to be an entitlement once fame sets in (see previous post "the launch"). With fame comes a new set of rights and responsiblities. Shame on you Ari.

YD said...

Of course Ari, when you did something good, you get a treat! Good job for rewarding yourself. Humans need to understand that kind of logic but sometimes they are just slow. Just be patient with them.

Sam & June

Jan's Funny Farm said...

If your human is giving you a hard time over helping yourself to a treat or two, point out the potato chip bag or the cookie jar, where she helps herself. We are sure you were very deserving!

The Bumpass Hounds said...

Wow, a famous dog and peep. Real book writers no less. Can we have your autograph please. In our guest book at our blog ( The fact they we don't vgot nobody from Maine yet ahs nuttin to do do with us wanting the autograph of such a distinquished literary duo as youse guys. Please, please, please, come sign our book. If y'all do maybe we'll buy youse book at the amazon place where we have a lengthy purchase history. Thanks and good boy (click).
- The Bumpass Hounds

Steve, Kat, & Wilbur said...

I absolutely agree. A good pup needs treats, no matter how they get them.


Kathiesbirds said...

Ari, I had my collie reach up and help himself to a roast once years ago. If he was still alive, you 2 could be best pals!