Having spoken to a journalist today in Cambridge, we were asked about the methods that our dog training school uses.
Food, or treats, is the primary reward that I find most effective. Most (but not all!) dogs respond well to food, and learn especially well when food is about. The second most common question then, is, do I need food all the time then?
For toy motivated pets, it works the same.
The answer to that is two sided:
1. If your training is poor, then yes, you’ll need food with you.
2. If your training is GOOD, then you won’t need to carry treats with you all the time.
Ideally, I want my pet to listen to me regardless of whether I am holding a treat, have a treat bag, or holding a toy.
Through our dog trainer courses, a dog is taught that a food reward is exactly that – a reward. It isn’t a bribe to create behaviour, it is a reward for successful behaviour. There is a clear distinction between bribing your pet to do something, and rewarding it for something they know.
Just using food won’t solve all the problems in dog training – if it did, then people wouldn’t be having the sort of problems that exist in the world today, and we wouldn’t be continuously asked how to stop their dog pulling on the lead, or getting more attention for their recall.
I originally started as a ‘food’ / ‘clicker’ trainer – but I quickly learnt that when a dog is full (or bored) of the food treats – there is little we can do to encourage an animal or enforce a command. The fact is, we should have full control over our pets at all times – regardless of whether they are hungry for our food treat or not.
Dog training is exactly that – the key is not to make an animal ‘work for you’, the key is to keep a dog motivated enough that he/she THINKS you have food with you (or whatever reward you are using). One goes from a continuous reinforcement (treat every time) eventually to an intermittent (every other) to a random. That means, sometimes they get 5 treats, sometimes gets nothing for the next 10 recalls.
The difference is, you HAVE to keep your dog motivated. For many, 10 recalls starts to teach a dog that there is nothing in it for them – then, for this specific dog, you HAVE TO reward your dog sooner, e.g. 5 recalls.
Dog training is simple when you know how, and having an instructor to guide you through, especially in practical problems, is one of the biggest advantages to a beginning dog trainer, or dog owner! If in doubt, call a professional who has proven time and time again they can train the problem that you have with your dog.
For advice on training your dog, or even videos of our dog training: visit us at G3 Dogs | Professional Dog Training.