Watch the video above (from Vimeo) to see how good Talos is at wrecking our landscaping. I posted this on my Facebook page and got a few laughs. And I got one really good question:
"So how does positive reinforcement work in this instance?"
Positive reinforcement won't work in this specific instance. Well, actually it does: Talos was positively reinforced for having fun in the Hostas. I didn't reinforce him, but the environment sure did! So now it's up to me to make sure the Hosta-rolling doesn't become a favorite pastime. I can use two tools to help the Hostas resume regular growth: management and redirection.
Management. It's my fault for letting Talos in the Hostas to begin with. I should have been managing him better and not allowed him to find out just how fun running through and rolling in them could be. I could have managed him by putting him on a leash, by supervising him more closely, or by putting a temporary barrier around the Hostas.
Redirection. If I didn't find him so stinkin' cute, and if I'd cared more about my Hostas, I could have distracted him from the Hostas and then redirected him to a more puppy-appropriate activity. To distract him, I could have called "pup, pup, pup" in a high-pitched, squeaky, friendly voice and then run in the other direction. Puppies love to follow, and he would have been more than happy to follow right along.
Once I had him out of the Hostas, it would have been good to provide him with something appropriate to do instead of landscape destruction, such as chewing on a puppy toy, chasing a butterfly, following me around the yard, whatever. Once he's engaged in the appropriate behavior, THEN positive reinforcement enters the picture. He'd receive a lot of verbal praise (he really loves that), and I'd continue to engage him in that newly found fun activity.
Using these tools every day (it actually feels like every minute!), Talos is learning what the rules are. And I get to be the hero who shows him the ropes, not The Enforcer who rains on his parade every other minute. It's a great way to build a cooperative relationship with him and have him look to me for guidance if he's unsure.