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The Effect of Anticipation

Example: Waiting in crate during food preparation

first published July 2018

– outline

Zip was a 22 week old collie pup, only rehomed at 21 weeks. Already crate experienced and willing to go in the crate for food.

When crated during food preparation there was extreme screaming and whining.

Mixing relevant and non-relevant events

Author: KL

Breakfast takes me 5-6 minutes to prepare and this is in the kitchen in view of the crate. The other dogs are familiar with the time it takes and do not animate until they hear the final mixing of their food which is in preparation of placing on the floor.

Zip could easily become food possessive, she is a very small pup that was barn reared. This suggests a survival of the fittest practice where siblings need to secure their own food in the litter. Within an hour of arriving she would lunge and snap at the other dogs if they approach any food resource. It was necessary to put her in the crate as I go about preparation or prepare without her in the room.

The behaviour in the crate was extreme frustration all the time.

Preparation would normally take 5-6 minutes (breakfast takes lot of “bits” of raw food to collect, sort and mix). I now allow 15-20 minutes and the preparation is broken into much shorter actions, with other non-relevant behaviours in between (washing up, coffee, listening to the news)

The behaviour is not a stable, fixed activity, which is often harder to teach as it is non-specific. Waiting in the crate and not making a noise is my criteria, but the learning is difficult for her. I randomly drop kibble in the crate in between the food prep activities and non-relevant behaviours. I do not know this has a specific effect. I am looking for a resting behaviour whilst focussed on may activities. I do not want her to learn the food-prep patterns.

This protocol is designed to prevent pattern-learning evolve that builds the frustration behaviours. This can also be used for dogs that are transport by car to an exciting event, such as a daily walk. The dog begins to learn the car loading routine, turning into specific car parks etc. The pattern-learning can be avoided by including many non-relevant journeys in the early days. Anticipating that this is extremely likely to occur with any intelligent dog is the best option.

For dogs that have already learned frustrating behaviours in anticipation of exciting events the patterns need to be broken into extremely small events with intermittent, low value reinforcers.

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sounds like a biscuit …….


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  1. boogiebestboy1

    I now turn off my satnav just before I arrive at an event to prevent it announcing “You have reached your destination” The cue.

    • Kay Laurence

      Hah! That’s a new one.

      I was wondering how many kids are going to grow up with weird pronunciation of places, because a few of them are quite wild.


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