i had a little conversation with my dog this morning…
For the sake of honesty and credibility, we briefly discussed the principles of operant conditioning. You see, the mutual adoration we share, while quite sincere, was largely bought between us. On my part, from him, with hotdogs. On his part, from me, with unadulterated enthusiastic attention every single time he sees me. (What more does any woman want, afterall).
So you see, the last thing i do, before i prepare to leave home each day, is to call for Mr. Beefy (my beloved shih tzu) to come inside where he will be safe. But he can be kind of stubborn and i’m not much good at the whole commanding-serious-voice-thing (not with dogs or with the kids). I have however, managed to associate in his mind, the very specific way i raise my voice and say, “you wanna trEAt?” with the forthcoming tidbit of bacon bits he receives when he has come to me indoors.
But this morning, the treat bag was empty and i knew it. Still, it didn’t stop me from calling out as if i was really going to do it - give him a non-existent treat, i mean. Therefore, when he obediently came running in full-force for me, what else could i do, but explain. “This is the intermittent part of your reinforcement schedule, i’m sorry, my dear friend.”
Fortunately, his english isn’t all that great, so he wagged his tail anyway - even if the news was bad. And he’ll still come the next time i call, without ever remembering he was had.
Just another reason why, i love my dog, best of all.