Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm a Super Listener

So I demonstrated to Jason this morning what a super listener I am. He fed me rather late this morning: he was busy blogging and tweeting. There is a routine and I stick to it. First Jason feeds the cats. They are a little complicated to feed. He opens up their canned food, mixes it with chicken broth, and then sings the "It's time to feed the kitties" song. Spot eats on the kitchen table. Iggy eats in the bathroom with the door closed. After many experiments, this is what works best. No one argues, no one steals food that doesn't belong to them, and peace and harmony is generally maintained.

Then I get fed. Part of the routine is that Jason puts my food bowl down and says "leave it." I wait patiently until he says "okay, take it." I usually have to wait anywhere between one and 15 seconds. Well, Jason got distracted this morning. He put my food bowl down and left. I sat waiting for ten minutes. He finally walked by and saw me looking at him with very sad Basset Hound eyes. Jason said "okay, good girl, take it!" I finally got to eat.

Aren't I a good girl?

Making me wait this long bordered on cruel and unusual. Don't be this extreme at home. However, the basic principle is a great idea. Food time is an ideal time for some basic training. I'm motivated--I want my dinner! Anything that happens in the few moments before a meal is a powerful training opportunity and shouldn't be wasted. Doing simple things like always asking me to sit before I eat, or teaching me to "leave it" before I get to eat, lays a foundation for some wonderful skills that can be replicated at times away from the food bowl.

Try it. Just don't walk away and make your puppy wait ten minutes. That's just mean.


  1. Oh my yes Maggie, ten minutes is a very long time to wait, and I agree borderline cruel...but you know it was accidnetal and I am sure you have already forgiven your human. I will begin this training tool starting tomorrow and will report back on how my four do. Thanks and please accept a "cookie" from me for bing such a wonderful dog today!

  2. Wow Maggie, you clearly have more will power than me. Way to go!!
    I have a question for you and your human:
    How do you teach a person to do the same thing and withstand the lure of food?