Does your dog have any bad habits induced by self-rewards? Do you find those habits more difficult to break? Any secrets for doing so?
I stumbled on this idea in nosework class. A big part of nosework is to allow the dog to self-reward. You start by hiding a treat in a box. When they find it, they self-reward by eating the treat. Instructors insist that you don't praise the dog for finding the treat. The food is reward enough.
It was a difficult concept to grasp, but I've seen the results. My dogs LOVE the game of nosework more than any other game we play because they create their own rewards. It's all about them -- not about pleasing me.
Once I understood that, I can see how self-rewards can be detrimental to a dog's training as well. It starts by housetraining. They have to go, so they go where they are. Big self-reward. And once they start, it's a hard habit to break.
Lucy is a master self-rewarder. At home, she developed a liking for whatever falls out of the bird's cage -- or whatever she can reach between the bars (we have a big macaw). If we leave the door open to the bird's room -- or even fail to latch it tightly -- she'll sneak in there and gobble up whatever nasties she can find.
A firm "NO!" will get her out of the room, but she'll be back in there 30 seconds later if she can sneak in. I cannot break her of the habit. Our only hope is to remove the self-reward. NEVER leave the door open.
(Update) Last night, she evidently got bored. I was sleeping in, so she entertained herself by chewing up her bed (see above picture). I'm thinking of attacking that two ways: A longer walk in the evening and more chew toys left out at night.
So I'm curious: Are your dogs' most long-lasting bad habits the result of self-reward? Bonus points for examples. Triple bonus points for solutions!