Tonawanda News


September 10, 2013

Humans aren't the only ones with 'superstitious behavior'

Tonawanda News — Today can be measured in many ways. For instance, in exactly eight months from now it will be my birthday. Another way would be to note that this is the 70th article for Critter Companions. A third way would be to say that this is the first week back from my first week off as a columnist. Lastly, you could measure this day by noting that in only a few short days the first Friday the 13th in 2013 will be occurring (it happens again in December).

Forty-three articles ago, I had mentioned superstitious behavior in animal training. Superstitious behavior is when an animal offers a behavior during the request of another behavior even though it is unrelated to the behavior being trained. The behavior occurs again and again because the delivery of something good or bad happened close enough to the non-related behavior that their actions were accidentally reinforced or punished.

Superstitious behavior happens to humans often. A person buys a lottery ticket, generated by a computer, on a Monday. They win big. Instead of realizing that they were fortunate enough to get the lucky numbers that the computer randomly created, they give credit to purchasing the ticket on a Monday. From now on they only purchase lottery tickets on Mondays. It is their lucky day, after all.

A black cat walks by a child’s path. The same day the kid does poorly on a presentation at school. It could be easy (and foolish) to blame the cat for their bad luck. Yet, people and pets exhibit superstitious behavior. Pets show signs of superstitious behavior when they misunderstand what the trainer is asking.

I have recently seen this with the ‘come over’ cue. The pet caregiver wants their pet to come by their side. The person says their name out loud. The pet, laying down, perks up and looks right at them. The caregiver immediately opens up their arms and calls their name again. The pet stands up and starts to slowly walk their way. The caregiver then pats their thighs and continues to call their pets name until they are by their side.

Text Only
  • SUN LIFE Volunteers honored 1 040614.jpg Women Who Move the City (and beyond)

    April 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE POUND 1040614j jpg.jpg Rock n' roll fitness

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - crib notes RGB Enough of this winter -- it's time for spring

    Midway through separating the bits of dog food from the shredded paper towel pieces on the saturated bed sheet that had been strewn across the dining-room table, I finally realized I’d had enough.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Dear readers, it's me, Kenny

    I have bad knees. I have been told to blame my grandmother. I have also been told to blame her for my love of animals. Today, we celebrate the 100th Critter Companions column.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE mummies 1 033014.jpg 'Mummies of the World' exhibit arrives in Buffalo

    As visitors arrived for the recent NCAA basketball tournament games in Buffalo, a much older group of visitors arrived via motorcade at the Buffalo Museum of Science — but these newcomers to the Queen City wouldn’t be seeking out a place to have a beer between games or where to find the region’s best chicken wings.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - double trouble RGB Years later, still spending sunny days on Sesame Street

    I always knew we’d hit “the Elmo years.”

    Going into parenthood, it seemed like a given. Both my husband and I  were “Sesame Street” fans from childhood ourselves, and we were happy enough to pass it on to a new generation. And we knew, having friends with children of the applicable age, that in this day and age “Sesame Street” equalled Elmo, the squeaky-voiced “furry red menace” (thus dubbed by Oscar the Grouch) of parents everywhere.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Local Restaurant Week 2 033014.jpg Back for another bite

    As spring finally starts to unfold in Western New York, residents are likely eager to get out of their houses — and organizers of Local Restaurant Week hope they’ll consider eating out as they do that.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wineries invite visitors to take a Taste of the Trail

    If one weekend of food and wine pairings is a good thing, two weekends of food and wine pairings must be even better.

    For the first time, the Taste of the Trail event, which takes place Friday through April 6 and April 11 to 13 on the Niagara Wine Trail, will be split into two weekends, with half the trail’s wineries taking part the first weekend and half the second, said Elizabeth Maute, wine trail coordinator.

    March 31, 2014

  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Rewards for playing nice

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE signs of spring 1 032314.jpg Region's favorite signs of spring gear up for season

    Ah, the signs of spring: The birdsong, the flowers, the green grass, the flowing waters of the Erie Canal or Niagara River ... and the words “Opening soon” on the marquee of your favorite seasonal business.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo