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Discussion Starter #1
I just taught an old dog a new trick.

Shep is a 15yo Lab/GSD, and sometimes I have trouble getting him started eating, need ways to prime the pump [or the vacuum... for those who know Labs].

Not sure if it's b/c his vision is failing, or maybe his scenting is diminishing, if that is possible, but sometimes I have to hand feed his kibble to him to get him started. Needless to say, I don't have to worry about food reactivity or guarding, and never had.

Sometimes, I will pet him or scratch him, while he's eating. And, sometimes he'll stop eating, when I hit 'that spot'. [Not freeze and not stare, although he might sigh.]

Today, while I was scratching, he stopped eating. So, I stopped scratching. He gave me a dirty look - he's too arthritic to raise a paw ... or just one finger. I told him to eat. Not a gentle cue, a direct command ;-) He started eating, and I started scratching. He stopped, I stopped... he started eating again. I taught him to eat while scratching.

The behavior is eat your treats [kibble, food]; and the reward is to accept my scratching and petting while he's eating.... Isn't that backwards from the convention :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone ... He's sleeping peacefully ... or jerkily, running faster than he can while awake :) I have a non-factual theory that active dreaming, at least in dogs, is a sign of a continuing good mind ... and he's always been a very active sleeper. Happily, he does NOT bark or growl in his sleep anymore. Watching him, If I didn't know better, I'd say he has at least 10 more years left.

One day I should make a video - he can be as violent as a puppy when he sleeps .... I thought he was have an end-stage fit, years ago, when I first saw him "chasing after a deer or rabbit in the field" in his sleep.
 
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