Yesterday I decided to get out my old IKEA tube that I've had since my kids were little and see what the dogs did. The last time that I took it out Luke was only a puppy; and seeing him stand beside it now he was obviously far too large to go through. But I thought I'd see what they'd do anyway. Jessie immediately started going throught the tunnel; she stood there in the tunnel awaiting her treat. She assumed that this was one of those training sessions where it ends with lot of treats, nope. She stood fast; not willing to give up the possibility of getting her treat and when the poodles tried or even glanced at the tunnel she sent them the hardest stare she could, funny really.
It took some work but I got Tilley to go through as well; although it was a bit tough for her. She use to fly through even as a full grown adult but now those old legs of hers don't work so well. She tried offering several other behaviors as all of my dogs have been taught to think; being trained using operant conditioning. She pulled the tunnel around a bit with her mouth looking at me for a response. She pushed it and stared at it alot; she watched Jessie run through and they actually had a few words at one point.
Luke was generally getting excited that Jessie kept running through the tunnel. When I asked him to do the same he got very goofy; objected, stuck his head in and then barked at me. Being that he is reactive he got pretty wound up by all of this and started going after the girls to play. He watched intently as Jessie entered the tube; he followed her along through the tunnel poking the outside of the tube and seemed elated when she appeared out the other end.
The whole time Jessie was thinking; "what does she want me to do with this thing." Jessie has had alot of training where I put a strange object out and expect her to offer me a behavior; she's a thinker. She too pushed and pulled at the tube when running through achieved no reward. She stood in the tube waiting for a treat to appear and when it didn't she thought of something else to offer. It is amazing how a dogs mind works; love it.
But what if a dog is never given any training; I mean never any response to a behavior? Do they think less than a dog that has come to offer behaviors for a reward? Yes; I have worked with some dogs who have never been worked with. It was almost confusing for me as they offered nothing; not even when being lured by treats. They stood confused as to why they could not just pull the food from my hand; a mind is a sad thing to waste.