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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?