Using food rewards in dog training

I often come across people who think using food in dog training is wrong and who are reluctant to use food when they are training their dogs.

When I ask why they do not want to use food, responses vary from: “dogs should just do what they are asked,” “praise should be enough of a reward,” “my dog should respect me” to “I do not want to spoil my dog.”

Introducing the concept of dog pay scales

When I am training clients’ dogs or my own, I do not like to think of the food rewards as ‘treats’. From a human perspective, a ‘treat’ is something a little extra, an indulgence after a hard week at work; this can lead us (subconsciously) to being less than generous with the food rewards.

Using food rewards in training is not a case of ‘treating’ our dogs or ‘spoiling’ them, the food is used as a reinforcer – motivating our dogs to repeat the behaviour the next time they are asked. It is not too different from us being paid to go to work. You may love your job but I bet if your pay stopped, and you boss just gave you verbal praise or told you that you should continue working out of respect, you would not keep going to work for much longer!

Whenever we are training our dogs, we should be paying them when they get the ‘job’ right – whether it is a simple ‘sit’, a send-away, loose lead walking, or coming back when called.  The level of pay will differ for each dog and in proportion to the difficulty and complexity of the job for the individual dog. This is what dog pay scales are all about.

No-one likes to work for free and the same applies to our dogs! Why not download my handy, FREE, dog pay scales leaflet to find out more.
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how to use food rewards in dog training