Some people are reluctant to give their dogs rewards whilst feeding them all sort of rubbish for doing nothing.
Some believe dogs should have nothing besides their meals – and always in bowls.
Some lavish food on their dogs all the time, just because they love them.
Some leave food down all the day so dogs can help themselves as and when they wish.
Some can only get their dogs to do things by using bribery – luring them with food.
Some have all sorts of reasons for not ‘using’ food in training or counter-conditioning. Often they say that they ‘don’t believe in it’.
Many call any food that’s not in a bowl ‘treats’ (doesn’t ‘treat’ mean getting something for doing nothing)?
Why are some people so resistant to paying their dogs in food?
Why are the same people so happy to give their dogs treats for doing nothing at all?
Money and kids.
Some children may be allowed to go to mum’s purse and help themselves, but no incentive or thanks for doing jobs.
Or, they get no pocket money. No freedom to make any of their own spending decisions.
Or, they are spoilt and handed coins and notes for no reason at all, devaluing money.
Or, they won’t even do a simple task willingly without being bribed.
Or, the parents believe kids should do as they are told and be punished if they don’t.
(Of course, other things the child would like can be used as currency as well, but I’m looking at food).
Food is currency.
If we want a good employee, we train them to the job and we pay them well.
When they have learnt the job, we don’t stop paying them as we may our dogs when they’ve learnt something. In fact, they probably get a rise (raise) for doing it well.
Luring is bribery and has its place – it can be replaced with reward once the dog has learnt.
You call the dog to his bed by throwing in a treat – lure. Next, you call the dog to his bed and give him the reward once he is in – reward. Basically, we need to stop using the food before the task is completed asap.
All this got me thinking. It really can be very hard to change people’s mindset over this, particularly those still dyed in the colours of old-fashioned dog training.
If it were possible, there could be a very simple way to do this.
I would like to be able to design some special ‘treats’ for dogs.
Some would look something like this and and would be made of biscuit:
Others would be made of something tasty like liver cake or cheese and would look more like this:
There is, of course, so much more to using food in training than simply as payment and reinforcement.
Victoria Stilwell has an article which covers the subject beautifully: Using Food in Training.
She says, ‘… food literally changes the dog’s brain chemistry – an important first step in everything from training basic cues to dealing with aggression‘.
I carry food in my pocket all the time (I’m weird I know!). I just love being able to thank my dogs when they do as I ask – or even better, when they do something that I like without being asked.