Too Clean


Katya Using Maze Gate

When she’s not out checking pigs Katya has work in the cottage helping cleanup. Katya thinks we keep our cottage too clean. One of her daily chores is to pickup things on the floor and put them away. Laundry, trash, bones, toys, what ever. If she does a good job she gets to pick a treat such as a piece of meat, cheese, egg or bread. Some days though she comes to me and whines that the house is too clean. She tells me, “Come, come.” Then she searches all around to show me that she knows there is nothing to pickup. She looks pointedly at me to say, “See, all clean”. Then she asks for her something to eat. So I give her a treat. Otherwise she’s incline to go and get a boot from the boot rack and bring it to me or pull down a hanging towel to protest. She doesn’t get rewarded for getting things out which are already put away and she knows that but she’s trying to make a point and I hear her. We’re not messy enough!

What she really needs are more chores where she can earn treats. Now that she has house cleaning down I’m going to move her to cleaning up outdoors. Hope had wanted Katya to help with doing dishes but I explained that there are some things better done by thumbkins. I would find the crashing and breaking of dishes as Katya learned to be just a bit too much…

The real question is will she teach the other dogs. Last night Hanno copied her and brought me a bottle top. I promptly gave him a small bit of cheese. Negotiable currency. You might remember about the long ago post about the dog’s doing the work around here.

Outdoors: 44°F/12°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 67°F/60°F

Daily Spark: Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t handle science fiction. -Who?

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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7 Responses to Too Clean

  1. Art Blomquist says:

    Wow Walter, The best we can do is duct tape swiffer pads to our dogs so that they can pick up some dust when they lie down in front of the fire. They seem allergic to the vacuum cleaner..

    Nice looking dog.

  2. Susan Lea says:

    That’s SO cool! Can I send you my Sheltie, Zephyr? :) If anything, she hinders me from cleaning because she has “rules”: No vacuum, no food processor, no paper shredder, no broom, etc. That goes for outside, too: No hammer, no circular saw, no scraping the manure fork over the ground. If it makes noise, Zephyr shows her displeasure by barking at it. And I don’t mean one little “woof!” Sometimes it’s funny, but when we’re tired or harried, it’s just plain annoying!

    Please tell me, how did you get Katya started doing it? How did you get her to pick up the first thing and bring it to you? If I throw her toys, Zephyr will bring them back; should I start throwing clutter??

    • With Katya I did some special stuff I’ll discuss in another post that is in proofing stages. But in general with the dogs we start by teaching them an object name pair. Such as “Trash” and beer cans, soda bottles, paper, etc. That then gets paired with “Bring to me” which we had previously trained. Training with a ball for play is a good way of doing that. Sticks, what ever.

      We’ve been doing this for years, well, actually decades I guess. But the interesting thing in the recent case is I didn’t teach any of the new young dogs yet and I’m watching to see when they figure out to do what Katya is doing. They know she does something to get rewards. Last night where Hanno brought me the bottle top is the first time I’ve seen the possibility that one of them might be figuring it out. He had been observing her doing her chores.

      The thing that is a bit special is I’m working at teaching Katya to be self motivated about doing her chores. The dogs are already self motivated about doing other work such as hunting pests, protecting against predators, alerting to visitors, herding livestock, etc. I would like to get them self motivated about picking up their bones around the place – they leave them scattered right now – picking up trash and putting it in the trash cans, etc. The fact that Katya now does it in the house shows it may be possible. I did teach Kavi to feed the pigs by turning the valve on the whey tank but the problem was he wouldn’t turn it off so I could only have him do it with me there. Perhaps a valve that turns off after a time period using a spring or weight would work. Interesting possibilities…

  3. Jarid says:

    Walter what is a “maze gate”? I get some visuals in my mind but I’m not sure.

    • I should post more about maze gates sometime. In livestock fencing there is the concept of a man gate. Before I learned that term we called them step overs. Basically the idea is to make a barrier that stops one species or size of animal but allows another. A creep is another form. Maze gates allow the sows to go out to get food and socialize with the herd while keeping their farrowing spaces more private. In the warm months they use the size of the fields and brush. In the cold months we create a maze they learn to negotiate that other pigs aren’t motivated to navigate. The dogs are a lot smarter, physically flexible and more motivated than pigs so they do mazes much more easily. That’s the short answer.

  4. Jarid says:

    Oh I menat to also say I am so amazed at your dogs. They must be really intelligent dogs. My dog is a good couch warmer but that is it. I love him though. Hard not to.

  5. mellifera says:

    Dear Walter: That is effing brilliant.

    Probably about a year ago, our toddler got to a certain point of recognizing what was going on around her, understanding words and phrases, etc– basically went from blobby little baby to interactive older baby & young toddler. Of course it was gradual, but as we noticed the change, one day I said to myself “I do believe she’s now more cognitively sophisticated than Walter’s dogs!”

    It’s a good thing we’ve been working with her on cleaning things up or I’d have to eat my words…. : D

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