Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Modern Pavlovian Dog

Like many pet owners, I happen to think that my dog and cat are smarter than most of mankind. My cat comes when called—if she wants to. And, in addition to many amusing tricks, the dog understands the most important lesson of all: he loves to cuddle. What more could you need?

But recently, we've discovered something else the dog has learned. He now associates the "click" of the laptop closing with action. Over the past week, we've noticed that whenever we close the laptop, Beckett immediately leaps from the couch/chair/floor and is ready to do something. Go for a walk, maybe? Go outside? Go to bed? I'm not sure what. But whatever it is, he's totally prepared.

Once we noticed this trend, we started testing our theory. And the action is definitely precipitated by the sound of the laptop shutting. It's astonishing to behold.

What amazes me so much about it is not that Beckett taught himself this Pavlovian reaction. I just can't wrap my head around what forged such a strong connection in his wee doggie synapses between closed laptop and action. Honestly, when I think of us closing the laptop, I picture setting down the computer and settling back into the couch.

So maybe it's not a result of training, after all. Maybe he's just trying to tell us something. Is that the phone ringing? I'm dying for a Dr. Pepper all of a sudden .....


Erin said...

My dogs do that too! Maybe he picked it up while visiting his cousins...
- Erin

M. Lubbers said...

Or maybe his cousins picked it up from him? Who's the chicken and who's the egg?!? Hmmm? ;)

But it is funny that your dogs do it too! I would love for you to do it something when we're all over and see all the dogs spring into action.