One of Ray’s greatest assets (to us) is his love of food. Any food!
It makes training so much easier both in the area of “tricks”, and also where behavior adjustment is desirable. It still takes planning and patience, but a food motivated dog is so easy to work with.
He certainly does have his food preferences, and Carol will get 100% success rate when calling him over and away from me if she has liver treats in hand. In contrast, I will be totally ignored if I call him back with dry kibble in hand! The type of treats being offered to Ray must therefore be matched with the expected demands on him.
I guess that’s no different to me offering you $5.00 to cut our front lawn, vs offering you $25.00 (it is a small lawn!). The reward must be relative to the expectation. Another perfectly normal human trait which Ray has mastered!
Grinding Ray’s nails is a relatively demanding event for him, so he has typically been given pieces of celery during the process. He also loves cucumber so that is always a good alternative if we happen to be out of celery. At a recent nail grinding session however, Carol decided to mix up pieces of celery and cucumber, and so he had two of his favorite snacks to entice him!
I used to think (notice past tense) that I had a good handle on Ray’s food choices, and how he would react under different food related circumstances, but as he has done on many other occasions, he has proved me wrong once again!
I walked into our kitchen as Ray was having his nails ground down a little and decided to sit and watch. I noticed his mix of treats and thought that this was going to be a typical and interesting, but unexciting, experience.
Carol put the spinning grinding pad on a nail for a few seconds; took it off and gave Ray a piece of cucumber. He was not particularly relaxed but he was cooperative as Carol moved the grinder to another nail. After a few seconds, she removed it and gave Ray a piece of cucumber. She moved on to another nail and, after a few seconds of grinding, she took it off and gave him a piece of celery. He turned his head to one side and promptly spat it out; turned back, and stared at her.
When Ray has been offered something that, for whatever reason, was not appealing, he had traditionally just ignored it. He has never spat anything out that I am aware of! Not totally believing what I was seeing, I asked Carol to grind some more and give him another piece of celery. He took it into his mouth; turned his head to one side and spat it out. We tried once more but with a cucumber “interlude” after which Ray confirmed very clearly that he had developed a new habit!
What will be next I wonder? Hiding food for a later midnight snack?