Saturday, February 25, 2006

Learning From My Dogs

I was working with my dogs today. The trick we were practicing is called Work For Dinner. It's a fun trick and if you have dogs you may want to try it.

I grab a handful of kibble and a bar stool (or you can use a laundry basket). Every time the dogs interact with the bar stool they earn a piece of kibble. During this exercise I don't speak to them, I don't say good girl (or boy). Instead I let them experiment. The whole point of this exercise is to get the dogs thinking, experimenting and trying new things.

If Dash puts his paw on the rung of the stool, he earns a treat. When Jenny nods her head at the stool, she gets a treat. When Dash moves his paws on top of the stool, he gets a treat. If Jenny puts her paws over Dash's on top of the stool, she earns a treat. Every time they do something new I give them a piece of Kibble. They try the same moves over, but when they don't earn a treat after a while they will try something different. It is a very amusing exercise and one where the dogs are constantly trying new ways to earn food.

It struck me the similarities between Dash and Jenny playing Work For Dinner and me learning to trust God. Dash and Jenny are both Jack Russell Terriers and they require a lot of stimulation or they get destructive. The more stimulation they get the more calmly they behave. I realized the more I try new things, the more God is giving to me. Like Dash and Jenny, when I experiment with new play, God rewards me with more insight, better understanding, synchronicities and delightful treats. And doing this playing stops me from being destructive in my mind. Instead of the I-can't-do-it-right-attitude, I look at the little collage I just created or the painting I'm working on and say well at least I'm trying some new tricks. Maybe God will give me a little kibble too.


Kara said...

What a sweet story. I like that thought of God's kibble.

GreenishLady said...

Lisa, that is just wonderful. Thanks for the chuckle. Lovely!

tess said...

I like this story, too. Yep, we gotta just keepin' on trying new tricks. Little steps. Little risks. Just step in and dance and play. Your story-image will stick with me, Lisa There is so much shifting in my life right now, and letting go of my perfectionistic shut-down mode is one of the biggest challenges. But letting go of that is good,isn't it? Looks like you are seeing the rewards. Keep going!

tess said...

Hey, Lisa!

Congratulations on your new flickr site! Very cool. I especially loved your "Artist's Way My Way" doodle. I think flickr is one of the coolest things for blogs and look forward to peeking into more of your art over time.

Scott said...

I'm a professional animal trainer, (seriously) and the situation that you're describing is a classic example of not only behavior shaping, but is also a good way to get a quick look at an animal's complete repertoire of known behaviors. We use this with parrots that come from unknown sources, to see what whistles and vocalizations they've learned through the years. There's a lot more to it, but I loved reading your story.

Holly said...

What a fantastic story. The concept of God's kibble is wonderful.