October 21, 2022 — Steak Brain
This past Friday was difficult for Jax—and also all of us. It was the first day of the EzLint product launch, and we needed to spend the day filming so we could stay on-track with our content schedule. Our goal was to make a bunch of content for Halloween, but…Jax hates wearing costumes. And I/we hate trying to make Jax do anything he doesn’t want to do.
It’s an ongoing struggle, but I’ve found that the key is always giving him positive reinforcement/rewards. If I offer him a treat, he is up and willing to do anything we ask. The problem is what I like to call ‘steak brain’. If the treat is something he really loves—steak, chicken, etc—he knows that there’s a super high reward at-stake, and instead of listening to what we say, he just goes fully bonkers and does anything that he thinks will earn him the treat. Sitting, standing, jumping, barking…it’s impossible to get him to pay attention to what we actually want him to do. Luckily, we’ve found that dehydrated chicken treats rank somewhere in the middle. He really enjoys them, but he doesn’t lose his mind like he does for regular meat.
However, despite all of the rewards we offered him, he was still struggling with one particular shot we wanted to get. It was pretty straightforward: we wanted a short transition shot of tearing a fabric sheet, and revealing Jax sitting on the couch with a bunch of Halloween decorations. No matter what we tried, Jax wouldn’t stay on the couch for more than two seconds. We couldn’t even get him to look at the sheet/camera. After trying for 2.5 hours, we still couldn’t get the shot.
But then we realized what was actually going on: when we first tore the sheet, the sound of fabric ripping was so abrupt and loud that it actually scared him! He was afraid of the sheet itself. I felt terrible about my frustration, and we ultimately abandoned the shot. I gave him tons of love—and treats.