Three days ago, I hung a cowbell on the back door with the intent to train the dogs to ring it to go outside. I asked them to touch it a grand total of twice, and they cautiously nudged it, barely making any noise. I figured I would leave it until the novel object became not so novel, and try training for real after a while. The cowbell clanged against the door every time it was opened, but that was the only time it sounded. Unfortunately, two days ago I went to the hospital and have not been able to train much of anything, the door-cowbell included.
Imagine my surprise when I’m sitting on the couch this evening, and Casper trots away… then I hear a very definite singLe CLANG from the cowbell. Hoping to reinforce this even if he accidentally nudged the bell, I leapt up and opened the back door, where Casper was standing and waiting to be let out. He immediately ran outside and pottied and came right back in, where I rewarded him with treats he wasn’t expecting.
It blows my mind that this ten month old teenage puppy, despite never having been taught how to ring the bell or even the cause and effect of ringing the bell + the door opening, somehow made the mental leap that “I have to poop… I should go hit the bell.” Even better was that he certainly wasn’t expecting treats at the end, so he was only doing it to solve a problem, not for a reward or praise. What a scary smart boy! It makes me wonder what other things we can communicate to each other, if only we have the right tools and the right understanding.