Well, I guess the fact that the second part talks about maximizing the use of food in your training tells you that it is a good idea. However, there are pros and cons to it and I will discuss those here in this article. Let’s begin.
How many of you have thought that using treats to train your dog may be cheating? Well, let me assure you, you’re not alone. Many people have thought that way and many never quite get comfortable with it but it can be a powerful technique and one that is easy to learn.
I’m going to cover a few thing that may surprise you but stick with me and it will all come together to make sense. It may go against some of the things you’ve heard from other dog owners at the park that heard it from somebody else. Kind of a “whisper down the lane” game and not a good place to get accurate training tips. After reading this article you and your dog should have a much better relationship in the appreciation and understanding department.
The first myth we are going to bust is when people say, “Don’t use treats when training the dog or he’ll learn to only obey you when you have food in your hand”. I know from experience that this is not true. A world famous dog trainer by the name of Doggy Dan has informed me that his dogs will listen even when he has no food in his hand and he started out training them with food. The secret is that you can use food to get the desired result and then once the dog understands the command, start fading out the food and replace it with affection and a “good dog”.
The fading out of the food reward is a critical and important concept. It’s also called “random rewards”. Here’s how it works, when you use food to reward, you should always keep it where it can’t be seen by the dog. That means either balled up in your fist or in your pocket. Then instead of giving a food reward every time the dog obeys a command, you give him a treat every other time, then every third time. Eventually the dog will get a treat randomly, if at all, depending on the dog.
In part two I’ll show you how to get better results using the “random reward” technique.
The second myth I’m going to expose is this, “Dogs should do what you tell them without food as a reward”. Have you ever heard that one? I have and it seems to come from people who have never owned a dog or have never trained a dog. It also comes from people who use fear, pain and a lot of aggression in their training. This is an “old school” approach and one that should be avoided.
Look at it through the dog’s eyes, how long would you work with no reward? Probably not too long. Dogs get bored working with no reward.
One thing we need to keep in mind here before we etch everything in stone, all dogs are different and each one has it’s own character and personality. I mentioned in a previous article titled “Be the Pack Leader” that some dogs are just eager to please and are therefore easy to train with or without food. These “easy-pleasers” will need a treat or two until they learn the command and then they will perform all day long and a treat is just icing on the cake for them.
Some dogs however are not concerned with your pats, cuddles and praise when they are running around the park and playing with other dogs. These are the ones that will get the most out of some special food reward training.
Now please don’t think you’re going to be giving your dog treats all the time. It is mainly to get the lesson learned and then you can fade it out. That’s not saying you’ll never have to give your dog a treat anymore. It’s always nice to surprise him with a treat for reinforcement.
So, long story short, yes, it is perfectly fine to use food when training your dog and to reduce it to a once in awhile thing once the lesson is learned. There is nothing wrong with having some treats in your pocket and giving one to your adult dog when he comes when you’ve called him even though he learned this lesson years ago.
I you’re training your pup and using a lot of treats, you can reduce his food at meal time to keep the input the same. Also, the size of the treat doesn’t have to be huge.
If you want to read the source click here.