Positive reinforcement learning through barbacoa

Domino hanging out at the beach over July 4th weekend.
Domino hanging out at the beach over July 4th weekend.

Yesterday I had some extra barbacoa that Domino was super excited about and Andrew suggested I use it to teach him (Domino, not Andrew) how to lie down on command. I waited until he lay down on his own, said “yes!” and gave him a piece of barbacoa. He leapt up and ate the barbacoa and then stood there, waiting for more. After a minute or so, he gave up and lay down again. I said “yes!” and held out another piece. This repeated ~10 times, at which point I was starting to think that he would never figure it out, when something changed. Domino seemed to realize that there was something he was doing that was turning me into a barbacoa vending machine, he just had to figure out what. He tried grabbing his bone (which he had happened to be playing with one time while laying down), sitting, moving away, and finally got it after another few repetitions. Then he lay down like a champ for the last ~5 pieces of barbacoa.

About an hour later, Andrew made a late-night snack and Domino came over, made meaningful eye contact, and then flopped down like a rug. It was adorable, and amazing to see the actual moment learning happened.

Now I just need to attach a cue to it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: