Is it time to clean up your act when using food?

Using food in training is often given a bad rap. In both dog training and the horse world, it is blamed for a number of problem behaviours. 

“Using food is bribery”. 

“My dog gets too excited”.

” It teaches the horse to be muggy”.

“My dog only does it when he sees the food”.

All of these are examples of inappropriate or incomplete training practices. The trainer is the cause of these issues because of poor food handling or delivery. It is not the use of food itself that is the problem.

Establishing proper food handling and delivery will not only solve the problems you are experiencing. It is also an opportunity to teach manners and self-control.

Clean up your act and use a marker. Make your food delivery better.

clicker training
  1. Only bring out the food from your pouch once your dog has offered the behaviour AND you have marked them. Only then should you grab a treat. This is one big reason to use a marker in your training. Otherwise, from your dog’s perspective, you are just randomly handing food out.
  2. When providing a treat, do so in a way that does not encourage your dog to jump or be grabby. 

These are probably the biggest reasons people cause problems for themselves when using food. It all comes down to poor mechanics. Clean these up and the problems will go away.

For the jumpy dog – present the treat low, drop it at their feet, or toss it a small distance away (1 -2 feet) to keep them out of your space.

For the grabby dog – present the treat in a closed fist, only opening it when their mouth is off your hand; feed with an opened flat hand.

Pick a Training Game to Work on the Issue

Depending on your specific issue, you can pick an appropriate training game to help teach an alternate behaviour. 

For the jumpy dog – Four On The Floor Game

For the grabby dog – Zero to Sixty Game

Use Food to Reward Better Behaviour Outside of Training Time

Devote 50 A Day to better examples of the behaviour outside training time.

For the jumpy dog – anytime you catch your dog near you with all paws on the ground, reward them with a treat or engage with them in some way.

For the grabby dog – implement the ‘Polite to Get Stuff Protocol’ when providing food, toys or attention during the day.

So there you have it! The truth about using food in training with three ways you can improve the way you use food in your training and build better behaviour while you’re at it. Would you like to know more about using food in training? Reach to find out how she can help.

Dog Days | Training for Life

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