When we left off yesterday, I was standing at the counter with a bag of treats and Sensi had just run from barking at our front door to be by my side, hoping he would get a treat.
Do you think I gave him one? No. Not there.
I walked back over to the couch, asked him to get back into the same spot he was at prior to the first firework going off, and told him to lay down.
He got a small morsel for doing that. Then I told him to stay, and I waited.
I didn’t have to wait long. As soon as the next boom went off, my hand was in that bag grabbing a treat. The dog simultaneously saw my hand reaching for the treat while the firework boomed outside.
He couldn’t bark or be worried about the boom. He needed that treat!
He got one, and another and another with each firework that went off.
But there were rules. He had to stay on the couch, laying down. That was the behavior I was rewarding. And in just a few minutes, he learned that he got the treats whenever there was a big boom outside, as long as he was laying on the couch.
Hours later, we had all relaxed and the fireworks were going off with less intensity. But there was still a big boom or late show of fireworks being let off here and there.
By this time, though, Sensi knew that boom=treats. And whenever he heard a boom, he ran to me and laid down (“I heard a boom, so I need to find mom and lay down and then I get a treat!” Sensi thinks.)
We practiced this on Sunday too, as there were more fireworks Sunday night.
While I’m sure that Sensi would still have major issues if he were outside and watching the fireworks, this is one small step toward completely changing his behavior from “I want to kill fireworks” to “Fireworks are good because I get treats.”
Treat therapy. It’s so worthwhile.
In this case, Sensi’s behavior is not only irritating to us, but it’s also neurotic and unhealthy for him.
So, we’re using treats to modify his behavior into one that is healthy for him, and pleasing for us.
That’s three bonuses.
Dog likes treats, dog gets treats. Dog learns healthy behavior. People get a dog who behaves in a non-irritating manner.
Three good things, all thanks to treat therapy.