Friday, February 12, 2010

I Want the Stick

Stick: (n) A long slender piece of wood, especially: a. A branch or stem cut from a tree or shrub. b. A piece of wood, such as a tree branch, that is used for fuel, cut for lumber, or shaped for a specific purpose. c. An irresistible toy that I want right now.

So I've been terribly cute for the last couple of hours. For the better part of the last three months I've ignored the bell that is hanging on the door. I'm supposed to ring it when I go outside. I pretend that I don't know what it's for. Tonight things have been different as it is most clearly the bell I ring when I want to go outside to retrieve my stick.

You see, it all started earlier this afternoon. Jason was taking out the trash and I found a stick. We played for about ten minutes in the front yard. I ran back and forth, galloping, leaping, and generally enjoying my stick. Can you imagine that Jason wouldn't let me bring it up into the house? I got this idea in my puppy brain: I'd ring the bell. Jason would want to reward that and take me outside. That's just what I did: over and over again. I think he finally caught on because after our third time outside, and I made a bee-line for my stick, Jason finally figured out the game. 

Did he let me bring it in the house? No. He mumbled something about the Premack principle being at play and wouldn't let me bring my stick in the house. I even tried my pleading Basset Hound eyes. Apparently, the Premack principle says that if one wants to perform a given activity, one will perform a less desirable activity to get at the more desirable activity. In people terms, if you want to eat dessert (an activity that  many human children have a high probability of wanting to do) you have to eat your vegetables first (an activity that many human children have a low probability of wanting to do). In puppy terms, high-probability behaviors are what the puppy wants to do; low-probability behaviors are what the human wants the puppy to do. 

Jason wants me to pee and poop outside on a regular basis. He also wants me to ring the bell when I feel like doing this. I think he's crazy and being unreasonable. I want to go outside and play with my stick. I'm likely to ring the bell to do this, as it is something I really really want to do. If I ring the bell (something he wants me to do) and then pee or poop outside (something else he wants me to do), he'll let me play with the stick (something I really really want to do).

I think I have to go now.

By the way, I wasn't playing with that kind of stick. The cats are the one's who like eating things that crawl. Not me.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know that the Premack Principle is also known as Grandma's Rule? It's usually paired with the idea if you want dessert you have to eat your peas first. You used that analogy, but you didn't refer to it as Grandma's Rule. It's usually much easier for people to "get" the idea when you refer to it as such. Besides, grandmothers everywhere like the recognition!!