Thanks to one of my loyal readers, I learned a new word the other day. It has to do with the picky Picard’s eating behaviors. Who knew that there could be a reason for it (besides intestinal issues- which I learned could also be a reason). The reason is called contrafreeloading. And it is real.
What is it you ask? The term refers to the behavior in which animals will choose food that they work for, rather than food that is simply given to them. In 1963, a behavioral psychologist did a series of experiments with rats and it was later replicated with chimps, gerbils, and birds. When given a choice between food in a bowl or food that was dispensed by pressing a lever, subjects preferred the food they worked for. Except one animal. Cats. Go figure. They prefer to be treated like royalty and fed freely. Which is interesting because they certainly have a prey drive!
Behaviorists who support positive reinforcement suggest that dogs can use their brains to earn their food – which they clearly enjoy. They say that by turning mealtime into a game, dogs are less bored and use their brains. Some people have dogs do things all throughout the day – and they are basically rewarded with their food for doing things. You sit, you get part of your meal. You stay, you get more of your meal. Alternatively, you can do things like place food in a treat ball (or dispensing toy) so the dog works for his meal that way. You can scatter or hide food and your dog has to find it.
It makes sense because we herding breeds are smart – and we like to think things through. We get bored – and need to keep our brains stimulated. Clearly the FG finds it boring to just get his food delivered. We PONs are smart too- and will also work for food. But we also have insatiable appetites – so you will never see us just staring at our food. The day we do, you know something is wrong!!!
I guess we PONs are really better freeloaders than Picards. Although….I must note here…that we HAVE been training the FG to countersurf. So he COULD become a freeloader too. Mind you, you DO have to work at getting food off the counter…standing on two legs is hard work…
Bottom line, we learned a new word this week – and maybe you just did too!!! And MAYBE, instead of just putting your dog’s food dish down automatically- sometimes think about making us work for it. Because we like to!!
Have a good one. Peace and paws up.
Seizure free days: 29