One in three pets is likely to get lost at least once in their lifetime. In addition, up to 10 million cats and dogs are stolen or lost yearly. Up to 6.3 million pets are booked into animal shelters. About 3.2 million of them are dogs who wandered away from home into the streets.
But what are the odds of an 18-month-old rescue puppy ringing the family doorbell on its own after being lost the whole day? These are moments where you wouldn’t believe something happened if it were never captured on camera.
In a hilarious video captured on the front door camera, a puppy named Rajah appears at the front door and raises her nose to ring the doorbell. The puppy stands back in anticipation, patiently waiting for her owners – Mary Lynn and Ryan Washick – to respond and open the door.
When asked about their reaction to this occurrence, Rajah’s owners said, “We were dying,” as a metaphor to show their joy and relief. The rescue puppy’s runaway mission had been inspired by the fireworks launched to mark July 4 celebrations in their neighborhood in South Carolina.
Before this occurrence, Rajah’s attempts to run away were always cut short by Mary and Ryan, who swiftly ran down after her, taking her back to the house. It is agreeable that Rajah did a great job finding her way home deep into the night for a pet that had been lost for eight hours for the first time. It is also amazing how she rang the doorbell to alert the owners about her return.
Can a Dog Learn to Perform an Intelligent Act?
Rajah has likely learned about doorbell ringing and door opening from Mary and Ryan. But on the other hand, it might have been through training or the dog’s observation.
Dogs are easy to train through a reward or punishment system, but as loving owners, many people choose the former. Instead, they learn by association, where they do one thing anticipating the outcome you associate the action with during training. Dog training is part of operant training through which the pet learns on a trial-and-error basis.
The Pavlov theory of dog conditioning involved using a bell to alert dogs about dinner time. Each time the bell rang, the dogs were fed, and the routine continued until they started salivating at the sound of a bell. Operant conditioning involves action and reaction, where one occurrence alerts the dog of a connected outcome.
Dogs also train through classical conditioning, which is involuntary and beyond their control. When rewarded after an action, a dog will likely repeat the same, anticipating more positive consequences. Dogs also avoid activities that warrant punishment, focusing more on what yields rewards.
For example, if a dog owner hands out a bone each time the dog sits when ordered to sit, it will repeat the action each time, even when the bones stop coming. Likewise, when the dog bothers a cat and the encounter results in scratches on the dog’s nose, it is likely to avoid that action in the future.
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