DOGGIE TEATS, GOOD OR BAD IDEA? I had posted the original message below when our dog Buster was a puppy. He is now 3 years old and has his tricks down very well. I thought we should look at this idea of treating dogs to learn tricks.
Original Post: TODAY THE WORDS are DOGGIE TREATS. I am in the process of teaching our puppy, Buster a few tricks. He is smart and learns quickly. He has mastered the combination of “the high five; the other (meaning the other paw for high five); up on back legs, and then down to a lying position; and the bark on command. All of these are done without me saying anything and using hand signals. Since he has been doing this combination very well with a treat given on the conclusion of each set, he understands he has to do his routine before the treat is given. I have progressed to the “dance around” which he does dance around several times before the treat. This week has been the “walk” and even though it is similar to the dance around with him up on his hind legs, he has mastered the difference and walked about 5-6 feet this morning with Greg watching. Of course, he had his treat to reward him. Here is the funny part, and Greg tells me I am silly when I do this. Bandit was not taught tricks ( he was already grown when we rescued him) but I go over during the training session with Buster and ask Bandit if he wants to do tricks. I have to lift one leg and say “Give me five” and then I have to lift the other leg and say “other”. Then I say Good Boy and give him a treat. I know he thinks that is his trick to get me to do the work and he gets the treat. It is funny to us and allows him to be included. He sits on command and we love him dearly. The treats come when they go out in the morning for their “business” and Buster knows to lead me into the kitchen to the “treat cabinet” and nudge the door. As smart and mischievous as Buster is; one day he will have it opened and feasting. The treats are a reward for a good job so that brings me to the deeper thought of this message….God is our life trainer and during our life, we are going through a spiritual training. Right at first, as puppies, we are taught the basics from our parents and they reward us throughout our childhood with “worldly” treats such as clothing, bikes, games, phones, etc. and we usually flourish and learn new tricks of life as we grow. We are taught to behave, speak when it is appropriately, do our chores and schoolwork, and sports if that is part of what we learn. When we grow up, we actually take on the role of trainer and repeat to our children the “tricks” of life we learned. Again, treats are given and so on, life goes. The best “feat” or “trick of life” we need to learn is life is life and as important as it seems with all of the training; the most important part is how we earn the best, most flavorful, long lasting (as a matter of fact, it is eternal) reward…..Eternity with our Creator and God. We will “Give Five, Other, Jump Up and Lay Down and Bark along with Walking and Dancing in the presence of Our Loved Ones and we can sit at Our Lord’s feet. I know Buster loves his doggie treats, but I will love to be one of us to receive God’s reward for believing in Him, loving Him above all else, and worshipping Him. Live Life, Love Life, and Live Life to the fullest by seeking the truth and knowledge to take us to our Heavenly Treat.
I found a great article on Using Food When Training on The Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Here is the article and the site you can check out for great training ideas: https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/food/
Why Do Trainers Use Food When Training?
1. What do Rewards Have to do with it?It’s poetic to think that dogs live to please their masters, but the reality is that dogs live to please themselves. When we ask our dogs to do something, the first thought racing through their heads is, “What’s in it for me right now?” Behaviors that are rewarded are statistically more likely to be repeated, so when we regularly reward our dogs for a job well done, they’ll want to keep showing up for work! Not all rewards are created equal, and understanding what your dog finds rewarding is an important step in the training process.2. Using Food in TrainingFood can be a very valuable reinforcer (paycheck!) for dogs during training. It’s one of a very short list of things that dogs are born already knowing is good. While most dogs easily learn to enjoy praise, petting and play – all of which also make good rewards — food still holds a special place in their mind due to its primal nature.Some people express concern about using food in training, worried they will create a dog who will only work if he knows there’s food. This is a valid concern, as it can happen if food is mis-used. The trick is to make sure that food is being used as a reward and not a bribe. There’s a big difference!When we ask our dogs to do something, the first thought racing through their heads is, “What’s in it for me right now?”3. Reward vs. BribeIf you ask the dog to do something, he does it, and you give him a treat, that treat is a reward. If you ask the dog to do something he knows how to do, a behavior that he has demonstrated repeatedly on request for a long period of time, and he doesn’t do it, maybe you ask again. If he STILL doesn’t do it, and when you then reach into your pocket and get a treat, and all of the sudden the dog springs into action to comply with your original request, THAT treat just became a bribe! You asked him to do it, he didn’t, you got food, and he decided to get to work. Good training strives to avoid this.4. Preventing BriberyThe trick is to get the visual presence of the food out of the learning picture as soon as possible. For example, when lure-training (think cookie on the dog’s nose and over his head to achieve a sit), you want to get the cookie off his nose just as soon as you see him grasp the physical mechanics of the behavior. At that point, start using the same gesture minus the cookie, and reward the dog with a treat from your pocket once his rear is on the floor. This helps teach the dog the important lesson that he must successfully do the work before you’re willing to dole out the reward.Another important tip for preventing accidental bribery is to make sure you have your dog’s attention before asking him to do something. Often, people resort to bribery because the dog didn’t respond the first time they asked – but when they asked, the dog wasn’t even paying attention. Try to avoid talking to your dog’s tail end! Before asking your dog to sit, lie down, or come when you call him, do your best to make sure he’s looking at you. Teach him to respond quickly to his name, so that when he’s distracted, using his name will prompt him to check in, at which point you can ask for the next behavior. You want him to respond to his name with the same enthusiasm that he responds to the words “Do you want a treat?”5. Using Life Rewards in Addition to Food TreatsOnce your dog is reliably responding to your hand-signals, begin to vary how he gets his rewards. Sometimes use a treat, but often times, use something else he’s telling you he wants – like his leash put on to go for a walk, his favorite toy to be thrown, or an invitation to join you on the couch for snuggle time. By using these types of “life rewards,” you’re teaching your dog that keeping you happy by complying with your requests is the key to opening the door to everything good in his world – not just food treats! This also allows you to use food randomly – as a surprise – which is extremely exciting for dogs, and often motivates them to work even harder.Tricks of the Trade Treat Tips
- Use soft treats and make them small – about the size of a pea. Small, soft treats can be eaten quickly, which aids in your timing as a trainer. Using small treats allows you to be generous without over-feeding your dog. Dogs don’t care how big each cookie is; they’re more impressed by how many they get.
- Try different types of treats. A dog treat doesn’t have to be labeled as such on the package. Bits of cooked meats, cheese, hotdogs, pasta, dry cereal and even fruits and vegetables can be rewarding to dogs. Experiment to discover what really excites him.
- Remember that what’s exciting at home may fail in comparison to the distracting sights and smells out in public. Save your “extra special’ treats for training in distracting environments.
- Get into the habit of petting your dog as you deliver the treat. Don’t simply be a Pez dispenser. When you consistently pair petting with treats, you raise the value of your touch. Now you have another way to pay your dog: petting!
- If your dog has dietary restrictions and cannot tolerate many foods besides his kibble, you can use kibble for his training. To make it seem more interesting, put some in a baggie with a few chunks of cut up hot dog. The kibble will take on the hot dog smell.
- Don’t over do it! The goal is to achieve a trained dog – not a trained, yet pudgy pupdog! Consider cutting back a bit on what goes into your dog’s food bowl and/or set aside a portion of his kibble and use that for training. (End of article reference)
I hope you enjoyed this post. All of us who love our pets go to huge efforts to show them love and they pay us back ten fold.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’