Sunday, June 24, 2007

Newtonian Body Language

Alison and I are pretty consistent about making Newton perform a behavior before we give him a treat or new toy. Most often, we use the "sit" or "down" commands, because these produce submissive postures, but he also knows "stay" here until a say otherwise, "wait" to eat the treat I just gave you until I say you can, "turn" in a circle, "which one" of my hands has a treat in it, and "gimme five." We've also tried to make Newton sit when he meets new people, rather than jumping up at them, which he'd much rather do. The result of this consistency is that, if Newton sees us preparing one of the more complicated treats, or hears us going into the drawer where we keep his treats and toys, he'll run over, sit firmly on the floor, and look up at us with barely contained excitement. It seems clear that he's saying, "Plea-plea-please give me that treat. I-I-I'm sitting nicely. See? See how nicely?" Similarly, when he's sitting on our balcony, and people walk by, since he can't run over and jump on them, he plants his buttocks on the floor and squirms. He's clearly saying, "I-I-I'm sitting. Like I'm supposed to. S-s-see? Please come play with me." I must admit that I find this behavior to be terribly cute.

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