It's all association

Luke lizard hunt'n

This video is cute but the reason I have it on here is so that we can discuss association in dogs. Dogs learn through association. Yesterday Luke found a lizard under the wood pile; yep there is a lizard in there. The way that you can tell that there is indeed a lizard in the wood is to watch Luke's tail, he is in a very high state of excitement.

The dogs rarely catch and kill the lizards; they are pretty darn quick and sneaky. But unfortunately this guy got caught. What is interesting is that once the lizard is caught and killed thus stopping all movement, there is no more interest. The dogs don't eat the lizard; don't think they taste that great because Jessie does eat other things. Luke not only ignored the dead lizard he went back to the pile thinking that his flushing technique would bring bag him another.

Throughout the evening he went back to the same pile, did a few stomps in hopes that there would be another lizard in there. Association is so important in the whole world of dogs, it is everything. When you see a behavior; perhaps new or strange it is caused by some sort of association. Luke has a bad association with doors that move on their own, he doesn't like when my bedspread blows up from the wind and he will immediately look at the door. He knows that if the spread is blowing there is a good chance that the door will slam which is something he hates.

The dogs know that the lizards are not out when it is overcast, you will never see them standing at the window on a cloudy day. But, when the sun it is out they are often seen checking their backyard for lizard though the back window. It is not a whole thought process like ours, although we do use association just not quite to the degree that dogs do.

By dissecting a behavior and being a detective you can often figure out where an unwanted behavior comes from. There was an association somewhere. Jessie has a tendency to go after little furball dogs. She has been attacked several times by them so I don't blame her. She figures get them before they get her. Tilley also associates the sun with shadows; she will not stand out in the yard on a cloudy day either.

Not all associations are simply; they can be very complex and take alot of work to figure out.

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