Thoughts on training with food

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Thoughts on training with food

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Old 07-28-2009, 01:08 AM
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Thoughts on training with food

Training with food is both simple and complicated.

I figured I could share som' techniques on how to use treats and not have a dog that only works when it sees food.

This is where the Reward Vs Bribe comes in. Many compulsion based trainers will rant that positive trainers are "bribing" their dogs by using food. That a dog should work for praise...or because its "eager to please". These statements are false if you train your dog correctly.


Your dog needs to eat, use it to your advantage.

Anyway a BRIBE comes BEFORE a behavior. You show dog treat, dog sits.

With a bribe the dog wont do it without the "goods" shown first...obviously a problem unless you like carrying bacon around.

Now a REWARD comes after a behavior...you did that! How awesome is that! Here have a cookie.

The dog learns that his good behavior som'times scores him awesome stuff. Because of how a dogs (and ours) brain works they get addicted to rewards once they get the game (gambling addicts are the same premise)

Dont' want you dog to only work when it sees food...don't show it to them. Keep it in your pocket, in your mouth (im serious, more on that in a second) or in little cups around the house.

Sure the dog can know the food is there...I mean they WILL know its around if theres a pile of it..they can smell it...but its the mystery of it that will get them....will I get a piece? Ooh OHh how do I get a piece..does this work?

They can't fixate on it if they don't know where it is... you take the visual of food out of getting the behavior you want.


Now that your hiding the treat you need a marker word to bridge the moment from the behavior to you jamming a treat in his face I use the word "yes" but good boy, good girl will work...actually anything will work...you can use the words "peanut butter"...the dog wont care...just make sure its not som'thing you say a lot...you want that word to equal= treat 100% of the time. So don't say it if you don't mean it...

Using lures....lures are treats shown to the dog to get its attention and guide it where you want it to go...sit is often taught with a lure...you hold the treat above the dogs head and bring it back until he sits...

Lures are technically bribes...so if you can get around using them...awesome....som'times you may need to use a lure if a dog isn't getting what you want them to do....the key to using a lure is to fade it FAST. Use it no more than 3 times in a row and then just stop cold turkey. I've never had a dog notice that the treat is gone. Its important to do this early or else he will have to always have the lure to do the behavior.

Reward for position. If possible, deliver the treat while the dog is still in the correct position, or in one pretty dang close to what you wanted...don't pick him up and move him back or anything...just if you like it when he sits on the side of you...but hes sitting in front...reward him at your side...he will start to offer you sits on the side.

This is why you might want to spit treats at the dog...they learn to watch you face...the reward is delivered when they are looking at you. (if thats what you want)

Counterconditioning...
You can't reinforce fearful behavior with food. Its a rule and I didn't make it up...lol.... if your dog is afraid of som'thing make it rain treats when they see their trigger. Barks at dogs...dogs now equal ham.

Scared of people....people now bring chicken. Make sure you go at your dogs pace...scary people may have to drop chicken five feet away at first...depends on the dog

dogs get this game quickly, but it will have to be repeated in dozens of places with many people for it to stick.




As distraction increases....increase the reinforcers.

Basically if the dog is stressing don't be stingy. For fearful dogs reinforcing in a constant flow of a treat or two a second might be needed. For just plain old distractions, reinforce slightly more often then needed to keep your furkids attention.

Variable reinforcement.... this means ultimate doggy lottery...Most people aim to fade out food...the way you do that is...after the dogs is able to preform the trick or cue 10 times in a row perfectly...start rewarding randomly...maybe after two sits...or five...with a random one sit one treat thrown back in....this is what makes your dog addicted to the game..."did I win did I win?"

This is also how you get a behavior chain...multiple behaviors for one reward...agility courses are behavior chains for example....som' dogs even find the next cue reinforcing....they will sit because they might get to lay down next...its fun to them...My dog Emma will just keep going endlessly...like a game of simon says...because its fun for the dog.

personally I carry treats on me 95% of the time. With many dogs that are always learning som'thing new I don't want to miss the chance of catching som'thing I like and cementing it in. I recomend carrying treats most of the time when your teaching som'thing new to your dog...it will progress faster.
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:57 PM
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Let’s Talk About Treats | Z-dogs Blog
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:07 PM
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:42 PM
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