Monday, March 1, 2010

Is he trainable?

I am having a crisis of confidence: At twenty days of age, is Dario trainable?

To be trainable you need to be a being who can correlate input and output, and who has some control of his person.

People talk of sleep associations: the baby eats, then sleep. Warning: the breast becomes a sleep association, and Dario will not want to sleep without getting fed. Different sources say that this may happen "at an extremely young age". Well, when I say "different sources": it just happens that a cunning author has bought many domain names, pasted the same text and has added some advertising for his book, but I digress.

The truth is, right now, I have no evidence that Dario can correlate input and output, nor that he has any control of his person. Yes, he has pure reflexes. Some learning has happened at the sucking level, but there is no indication that this is any more than a specialized circuit.

Just in case Dario ever becomes trainable: when I give him my finger to suck, I always make a nnnnngggg-tchak noise with it. Maybe some association will remain between the noise and the comfort of the finger, and this will facilitate training later.

And what shall I try to train him on? Sleeping? Pooping? Certainly not. One needs to select tasks of no utility to either of us at first, because we need to be both relaxed about the outcome. Thus, an obvious task: grab the giraffe.

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