food love & sniffy things

Noticing an interesting thing when playing shaping with the Lokidog – if he gets a jackpot, he is inherently more interested in searching for more food than playing with a toy that’s being dragged around. This worries me a little cos he’s already choosing something else over the play, and look, I know he doesn’t associate play with a reward maybe, it’s just a fun thing that happens after he does something sometimes… and I know, he’s a baby, but we all know that I like to see problems and fix them. It’s what I do.

Today I just held out, kept dragging that toy around until he came and played and we had a big party. I suppose in Susan Garrett world this was like a “don’t wanna, don’t haveta” moment, or whatever she calls it. Thoughts? Opinions?

I need to remember to set a timer when doing that stuff, too. He can keep going, and does, but I need to remember he should only train for probably 3 minutes at a time right now.
Also, I set up a super wobbly board with this rectangular soft board thing on top of a paw pod, and he was riding around on that thing without a care in the world. Super confident (about that sort of thing, at least. He wasn’t sure about a child’s bike that he saw yesterday)

Here’s a video:




And there’s even more of this now without toys, more wrestly-bitey style play is starting to happen. I think Lu is gonna like having a little bother.


8 thoughts on “food love & sniffy things

  1. Yep, that’s “don’t wanna, don’t hafta” (DWDH). I tried it with Java when she was a small puppy and I wouldn’t do it with a whippet at that age again (keywords: whippet, age). If he exibits calming behavior when you do it, my advice is – don’t. Otherwise you can, but you could also just play with him when food and toy aren’t in direct competition, which will allow for his natural toy drive to develop and it could become greater than food drive in time.
    I think most puppies start by preferring food over toys, even if genetically they have more toy drive. I guess it makes sense since they’re not yet able to regulate their energy so well (need to be fed 4x per day and stuff).
    You will want to teach him to switch between food and toys at some point, but I see no real need to do it right now.

    • Em says:

      Thanks, Andreja. When you say calming behaviour, do you mean like stress signals (yawning or something)? I think I’ll just play with him separately to food right now – do his little puppy exploring session with boxes and food and stuff, then have a really good play and play throughout the day/when I’m home.
      I definitely think it makes sense that puppies prefer food – I think there’s a want vs. need thing there as well- they NEED food, where play is play (even though it’s like ‘chasing prey’ it’s not immediate satisfaction).
      I won’t stress right now about switching or using toys as a jackpot yet. He seems to do well enough that we do the clicker stuff, then the boxes and whatever go away and we play- he hasn’t been sniffing for food then. 🙂

      And yes, Lu is being a VERY good big sister. I think she’ll REALLY enjoy having a dog who will play with her, when he’s a bit bigger. 😉

      • Yes, I mean stress signals, not necessarily yawning, but looking away, showing white of the eye, slowing down movements, sniffing, increasing distance from you etc.
        Also, when training with food you can only use the toy for jackpot if the dog actually thinks toys are way cooler than food… otherwise you end up punishing that behavior instead of jackpotting. And yes, right now food is a big need, toys not so much. This is awesome that he can switch from food to toys in such a short time span! I would think they already have a similar value so you should have no problems once he gets out of this puppy stage.
        I’m looking forward to videos of grown up Loki and Lu running together. Wheee!

      • Em says:

        Ok, yes, makes a lot of sense. It’s funny what you forget in such a short time (eg. toys aren’t necessarily associated with a reward/being way cooler than food, so you can’t necessarily use them like that yet). I do think they have pretty similar value- he’s very keen on either, just food wins out when it’s DIRECT competition, which is very ok right now.
        And we’re still trying to figure out how to play together- I think he prefers Lu over me at the moment and it’s weird because she just stands there holding the toy while he tries to tug it. If I do that, he gets puzzled. So hopefully we work each other out soon- I want him to think I’m very cool and fun. 😉

      • He’s a BC, so I’m sure he will love playing with you over playing with any dog 🙂 But if he were a whippet I would make sure I play with him more than he plays with dogs (some people suggest 2x more, but I don’t think I can do that, personally 😉 ).

      • Em says:

        I’m probably doing more play with him than Lu, but if Lu is playing he would rather go to her right now but I guess she plays like a dog and he and I haven’t got that bond yet so I’ll just keep playing with him lots of different places with heaps of different toys and I think we’ll be ok. 🙂

  2. Great play session with Lu and Loki! Lu is doing really well and just enjoying him. Fun to see. He’s good too not just mauling her head and stuff. Great job.

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