We adopted a fluffy Newfoundland dog two month ago and I have been watching him as he learns the cues of when he’s being fed.
When he hears the sound of the food can opens, or the banging of his bowl, he starts to dance around and voice his opinion, which in his language probably means, ‘Hurry up, human, I’m starving here!’
My daughter loves how he dances around and so she started teasing him with the sound of the bowl and sure enough he kept doing his dance and barking, only food did not ultimately come.
Four weeks into her game, he stopped responding to her whenever she does that. He got the point – there’s no reward at the end of it.
Strangely enough, this past weekend, she started making the noise of his bowl and feeding him after that, and before we knew it, he once again responded to each time she made noises with the bowl (even at times when food was not served after that).
It got me thinking of myself – if that primitive brain part is something we share with animals, doesn’t it mean that once a desire and conditioning is carved out as a neuro-pathway in our brains, if we ever reward it again in the future, that river starts flowing again, just like with the dog?