I tried some free shaping the other day. I've read about it on other blogs and wondered what Penny would do if I sat down with a clicker and a pile of treats and placed an empty cardboard box on the floor near her.
Well, it was fascinating to see!
She pawed me (she never paws, but she's been taught to touch me with her left and right paw as a preliminary to learning to march);
she backed away (ditto knows how to back on command);
she looked at the box;
she touched the box with her nose - click! treat!
she touched the box a couple more times and was rewarded, but then I stopped rewarding.
So she put one foot into the box - click! treat!
A few more of the same.
Then I raised the bar again.
So she put two feet into the box - click! treat!
As far as I'm concerned, that's thinking.
I was glad to see a philosopher, Dr. Michael LaBossiere from Florida A&M University, writing a blog post about canine cognition. We 'dog people' recognise the obvious truth that dogs think - and feel, but that's another story - so it's good to see this truth acknowledged in the wider world.
He writes about Descartes, famous for saying 'I think, therefore I am'. It was Descartes who did animals a terrible disservice when he argued that animals do not have true minds because they do not use true language.