Puppies are God's way of reminding you just how powerful the Law of Unintended Consequences is. My puppy, Star, is a really bright dog with a not so bright owner. As part of housebreaking her, I needed a way for Star to tell me she wanted to go out. I got a cowbell and tied it to the doorknob, thinking that I would teach her to nudge it when she wanted out.
Star quickly came to associate the sound of the cowbell with the door opening to the great outdoors. However, she didn't quite get that she could ring it to go out. She now touches the doorknob instead. Of course, that is hard for me to catch because it makes no noise and I may not be looking that way. I have to do something to refocus her on the bell, like stick peanut butter on it. Oh well, we will figure it out eventually.
I had done this with one other dog, a miniature Poodle who had trouble telling me she wanted out. She caught on very quickly. There was a period of about a week when she would ring the bell just to see if I would open the door, then that tapered off. However, if I wasn't moving fast enough to open the door, she could put a lot of feeling into making that bell scream!
Dogs learn the funniest things. I keep a barrier between my study and the rest of the house to keep Star out of my study unless I am in it. I then use the barrier to keep the dogs in the part of the house I can see so Star doesn't eat the couch or something.
About once an hour, I get up to get more water and I usually let the dogs out. The puppy now waits by the barrier when I get up, then goes to the door once it is removed so she can go out. She is 15 weeks old. She is scary smart -- I fully expect her to own the place by the time she is an adult!
The funniest example of observational learning leading to an erroneous conclusion comes from two dogs long gone to the Rainbow Bridge. Bear was absolutely ball crazy and was a cranky lab/cocker mix with the worst traits of both breeds. He loved playing ball and God help anyone or thing that took his ball. I was throwing his ball for him, and he brought it back, then would drop it only when shown the second ball. I threw that one, then picked up the slimy first one to repeat.
I had a Pointer named Kitty, a rescue dog I did not name. She watched this ball game for quite some time and obviously wanted to join in. I threw a ball, she got it before Bear, and took it to Bear and dropped it. Bear and I looked at her, somewhat stunned. It seems in her mind, Bear brought the ball to me and I threw it. So she took the ball to Bear so he could bring it to me and I would throw it. Kitty didn't realize I would have thrown it if she brought it to me. That wasn't what she observed and she could not make the intuitive leap required to figure that out. Bless her heart, she was a good hunter but not all that bright. I loved her, though, and it was something of a trip to see what she came up with next.
So what observational learning foibles do you have, or have you observed?