I've been putting extra effort into getting the first cutting done of my hayfield, also known as my front yard. It always gets away from me each Spring because when I'm home its too wet... then with the alternating sun and rain, it gets too long for the mower anyway. So right about this time every year when its consistently dry and the grass is mid-thigh height, I'm out there using my weedeater like a scythe to cut it down.
Naturally Gimme is supervising. She likes the idea of barking at everything that goes by... which is not exactly my idea of good behavior. One or two barks is okay, but not barking up and down the fence the whole time someone is walking by. So I have a film canister filled with peanut butter in my tool belt.
When Gimme barks at things, I call her and she gets peanut butter for coming. Sometimes this approach can be risky... because the barking can be rewarded by the opportunity to get cued for another behavior that is then rewarded. For my pet clients I call that the, "I'll be bad, so I can be good and get rewarded" syndrome. The trick is to not do it too often or too consistently.
So after a few times of that over the last few days, this morning I went out on the front porch to watch Gimme do her morning toilette. When she saw me watching, she proceeded to run bouncing back and forth across the front of our yard, stopping at each end and looking back at me. When I didn't call her, she'd run to the other end and then look again to see if she'd done enough - that's puppy logic for you.
During the course of today's efforts, she got down to two barks, "bark barroof" and then runs to me for peanut butter, mostly without me calling her. I'm perfectly okay with a couple of barks as I see a bit of alert barking as a good thing.
However, when I was actively running the weedeater, I noticed she barked much more. "Bark barroof" -pause- "bark barroof" -pause- "bark barroof bark bark" -pause- "bark barroof bark bark bark". I couldn't figure out why she thought she needed to bark more when I was weedeating.
Then suddenly it occurred to me... she'd concluded that her barks were my cue to look at her, which was then her cue to come running to me for peanut butter. I had failed to realize that this behavior chain we'd built included Gimme waiting for me to look at her, which I was slower to do when handling the weedeater.
Ahhhhh more puppy logic.