When training their dog, a lot of folks ask themselves if using food is a good idea when they want to train their dog. It is a good question that should be considered seriously. Does it make training easier? Will the dog be more responsive to you if a treat follows his well carried out actions?
This method of training can be powerful but many people are not quite sure how to go about it. What we will discuss today is how powerful this method can be if used properly and that it can be quite simple to master.
The answer to this quest will most likely surprise some of you but you will see that it makes total sense. I am sure it will contradict some of the methods that you might have heard of before when talking with other dog owners at the park where opinions can vary easily. This article will make sure that both you and your dog have a clear understanding of the proper method needed for the maximum result.
To begin with, let’s get rid of this belief that you should never be using food to train your dog to listen to you because if you do the dog will eventually only listen if you have food for him nearby.
There is no truth behind this theory. I have seen a world-famous dog trainer make his dogs listen to him without any food as a reward even though they were trained initially using food when the dog responded to his commands positively.
It is a good idea to start using food at the beginning of training but once the dog begins to respond to your commands without expecting a reward in return, you can then start to gradually reduce food rewards as part of the procedure.
The concept of fading out the food is very important and it is also referred to as using random rewards. The way this works is that you start by offering a reward by holding the food inside of your hand so that they are unable to see the reward. At one point, you slowly start to offer this treat every second and then every third time where there could be either a treat or nothing at all. As the training progress, you will be able to space out treats until they become random rewards.
The goal is to get the dog to be totally focused on your commands without expecting to be given the treatment for his good behavior.
The second myth that we hear a lot about is – dogs should just be happy to listen to you without any food rewards whatsoever. I have heard about this too many times and I have noticed that this is most often expressed by people who either do not own a dog or have limited training experience and may even still believe that using force, fear, and even aggression as a way to get their point across. This is such an “old school” philosophy to believes that dogs should just plainly be obedient or else.
If we stop and think about it if we were the ones being trained, would we work for nothing? and how long would we tolerate being told what to do with nothing in return? This is how the dog sees this. As the expression goes: “no pain no gain”. So why should the dog go through all the pain in their is no gain? It is therefore normal that you get bored at work if there is no reward in return.
Do take note that not all dogs need these treats for training purpose. Depending on their personality, some dogs are just happy to please their owner and any reward offered is optional while others are always thinking about their next meal and will not budge if there is no compensation, a lot like some people.
Dogs who happen to possess the more pleasing personality will playfully follow along with your directives and will most often be of no need for any food rewards as long as they understand what you ask them to do.
However, dogs with any degree of a more independent personality tend to be less concerned about your approval or disapproval for their actions and these are the type of dogs that will definitely benefit from these tactical food rewards.
You may think that this will end up with you having to offer food treats to your dog every time you ask him to obey a command, of course, this is not the goal we aim for. As I mentioned earlier, using food as a treat is to adds a boost effect to get the dog to do all steps required to complete what you asking to do that will then lead you to apply this method. We will discuss this more details in part two that is coming soon.
So until then feel free to use food to treat your four-legged friend or doing something cool and don’t worry if people around you seem to have a different point of view on this matter.
Also, it is important to understand that fading out these rewards is not a short-term process but then again we are looking at the long-term solution. So don’t worry and be cool about it for you will be getting results within months not days. But you will eventually end up using these rewards merely once out of four times and then gradually up to five times and so on…
You may feel at this training method will end up with your dog eating too much, then I would suggest that you simply subtract this out of their dinner so that the total daily amount remains the same.
I certainly hope that this helps you clear up a few things about using food to train your dog. For most dogs, it is always going to be the best reward that they can be given.