Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Model/Rival Works Like a Charm

In an earlier post I mentioned the model/rival technique of teaching. While I'm applying the term pretty loosely to my puppy education with Kirby and Baxter, I'm here to report that even my less-than-rigorous application of the process seems to work like a charm.

Like many children, Kirby doesn't like to go to bed at night. He can't keep asking for a glass of water or another bedtime story, but his way of communicating that is picking up a toy and running away with it. The word "come" might as well not exist when Kirby sprints from under the sofa to under the chair, as one or two adult humans chase him around the living room. He thinks this is really fun. Knowing they have to get up at 5:30am, the humans do not find this particularly amusing.

Contrast this with Baxter, who thoroughly understands the bedtime ritual. In fact, if we don't head for the bedroom at our usual time (say on a weekend when we're watching a DVD), Baxter will go in by himself and curl up on his bed for the night.

Hoping to inspire this type of behavior in the puppy, last night, instead of chasing Kirby around the living room, I followed Baxter into the bedroom. Of course, curious as he is, Kirby couldn't resist following me...albeit from a distance. I went over to Baxter, and as Kirby stood in the doorway, I started praising Baxter for being such a good boy and getting into his bed. (I really went overboard on this. ) Within about 20 seconds Kirby was standing next to me, watching all the hugs and compliments being lavished upon his rival. Kirby looked at Baxter, looked at me, turned around and walked into his crate and sat there as if to say: "Ok, now it's MY turn!" Of course, I then turned my praises to Kirby, shut the door to the crate and everyone went to bed.


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