How to motivate LARGE non-food motivated dog? - Page 2

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How to motivate LARGE non-food motivated dog?

This is a discussion on How to motivate LARGE non-food motivated dog? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Thanks all! He still has no interest in dog treats, but husband is at the store right now picking up a package of hot dogs ...

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Old 04-08-2019, 05:10 PM
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Thanks all! He still has no interest in dog treats, but husband is at the store right now picking up a package of hot dogs and cheese for him and we will try those.
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Old 04-08-2019, 05:11 PM
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Thanks all! He still has no interest in dog treats, but husband is at the store right now picking up a package of hot dogs and cheese for him and we will try those.
Let us know how everything goes!

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Old 04-08-2019, 09:43 PM
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Use highest value food for training non treat motivated dogs

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Thanks all! He still has no interest in dog treats, but husband is at the store right now picking up a package of hot dogs and cheese for him and we will try those.
Let us know how the hot dogs and cheese work out with your new dog.

Here is a post I wrote regarding using high value foods for training our dogs.
I wrote it for other issues, but I am betting you may find it useful in your case as well!

Just sub out some of the other dog issues below for your non food motivated dog!

Here's the post:

When counter conditioning reactive dogs...use only HIGHEST VALUE food treats!

When working with reactive dogs and counter conditioning them to seeing other dogs... use HIGHEST VALUE food...

When working with our reactive dogs (or shy, fearful dogs) please really consider what food rewards you are using. This can really make huge differences in the success you have with these special sensitive dogs.

So, when you are working with a reactive dog that is uncomfortable around other dogs or is merely unable to see another dog without freaking out and barking/lunging, etc.... and he/she isn't able to focus/look at you, or is refusing to listen to you, or cannot stop reacting....or is showing negative or aggressive body language AND is not at all interested in your food rewards/treats that you are offering, I always like to ask the question:

WHAT foods rewards are you using??

Are you using dry treats or biscuits or kibble or store bought treats? Most of these dry, non smelly treats simply won't work for reactive dogs upon seeing other dogs, or in fearful situations, or high distraction areas.

I use only the HIGHEST VALUE foods when training super hard situations.... like acclimating a dog to being ok around other dogs .....or helping a dog overcome their fears.

The food has to smell really good to divert their attention away from their fears or worrisome stimuli. Basically I look at at as the food has to be worth the risk in the dog's mind!!

Examples I use regularly are home cooked chicken, meats, cheese, liver, gizzards, hamburger, hotdogs, low fat deli turkey, etc. No dry food for these occasions until they can start focusing on me regularly and easily.

And I give very small pieces, so I can reward, reward, reward all good behavior choices!!!
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Old 04-08-2019, 10:11 PM
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I use different values of food rewards as I train my dogs for different things

Hi again,

I have three dogs-- a shy cautious dog, a newer puppy, and an older dog at home. I constantly change the treats I give them depending on what we are working on.

I use different level treats for different tricks, lessons, jobs, tasks, fears, etc.


Here are some examples of what I do with my dogs:


So for yesterday's thunder fear training/ counter conditioning I gave my dogs home cooked steak bites and super high value for my dogs: (yuck!) wet canned "filet mignon" dog food.

And last night when Puma pup hurt herself mysteriously and refused to go to our normal bed at night (she wanted to hide a bit) then I kept upping the ante to get her to leave her bed in the kitchen area. I ended up giving her 2 small spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream and that did the trick.(with some pain meds) She got up willingly and sadly sauntered off to the bedroom and slept next to me all night like normal.

When Gracie was willing to let me counter conditioner her by gently spray her with the hose on a light mist setting, she got home cooked steak bites. (Gracie was previously terrified of all water!!) Lil Sparky (not fond of being sprayed either) saw the steak rewards and he was all too happy to join in and soon both doggies were vying for the yummy steak bites while the water was spraying them! Very cute.

When Puma pup layed down very politely at the oil change place with me today she got a bit of deli turkey from my treat pouch as a thank you reinforcement for such beautiful manners.

When Puma pup meets/greets new people in my shopping center happily? She gets a small piece of dog beef jerky to ensure that she thinks strangers are wonderful.

When she goes with me to return the shopping carts up the path, she gets cheese bites or hot dog bites for the training.

When I ask Puma to lap dance (climb into my lap and sit on cue) or snuggle (I have trained her to put her face against my body where I point) then she gets some of her kibble or other dry treats in my pouch.

Working on our heel?? Puma gets home cooked chicken.

Sitting with perfect manners as people pass us in high distraction areas? Some kibble mixed with some chicken bites.

Seeing other dogs at a distance? Gracie and Puma pup get whatever the best thing I have in my treat pouch!!!
This prevents reactivity for her.

And so on and so on....

So basically I vary the treats and the level of treats my dogs get depends on the level I am asking my dogs to do!

Harder tasks=higher value food rewards.
Low level training or tricks or fun stuff= low level food rewards
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Last edited by AthenaLove; 04-08-2019 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 04-09-2019, 07:29 AM
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The hot dog worked pretty well. He wasn't super excited but would do what we asked for it. His favorite though is peanut butter. Either a lick off the spoon or a touch put on a bit of dog treat. Not only did he sit, but he also happens to know down, he just chose not to let us know before this.

So hot dog and egg may be our medium level reward and peanut butter our high level.

One more thing. . . he hasn't eaten yet. I said give it 24 hours but now those are up. He is 48 hours not eating. He has had a couple of raw hide (small), a pig ear, training treats. We got a large Kong yesterday with the hot dog and I filled it with PB, hot dog and dog food so see if that helps with both him eating some more as well as keep him entertained while we are gone during the day. I think husband is going to check on him at lunch again today. I know it takes some time to adjust so not overly worried but thought with all the exercise (running around our big yard, several walks, his first run) he would work up an appetite.



We got dry food the shelter stated he was eating and even tried wet food mixed with the dry and no luck. I know he is still getting over the adjustment but thought Id mention it here in case anyone has any suggestions or even just reassurance.



Thanks all! Having always had easily food motivated pups it's a good learning experience for us.
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Old 04-09-2019, 11:16 AM
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I don't know where you are but many stores sell begging bacon strips. My dog will do absolutely anything for those. They're in pet food stores and most supermarkets.

The vet's here all tell me that just dry food is more likely to cause bloat in large dogs so I've always mixed canned food with dry food for my large dogs.

I'll give half a large can of food "in gravy" mixed with a cup of dry food to my dog twice a day. If he's really hungry I'll give him a third cup of food and give him some pureed pumpkin with it or if I cook meat on my George Foreman grill I'll give him the drippings over the plain dry food. That's a rare treat since it's not as healthy for him.
I've got the luckiest eater in the world who also has food allergies and IBD. He loves peanut butter but gets horrible diarrhea from it so it's strictly forbidden around here. He's a bit over 90 pounds and should be "in the low 80s" per the vet. He also has hypothyroidism which he takes meds for.
He rarely eats more than 1-2 cups of dry food a day plus one large can and never loses weight no matter what I do.
If you mix canned food to his dry food he'll probably eat better and it may be healthier for him from what I've heard.
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Last edited by Shadowmom; 04-09-2019 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 04-09-2019, 11:32 AM
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I've never heard of the wet food/dry food bloat thing, but who knows. I always feed dry because it's better for their teeth- wet food sticks to the teeth easier and cakes on and causes a lot more plaque/tartar buildup than dry food. Feeding raw actually cleans their teeth, but I know not everyone can afford that (including me right now)!

Glad to hear you found some food rewards that he'll work for! And I wouldn't worry until he goes 3 full days without eating. Are you putting the food down for 15 min then taking it up at each meal time? This will teach him to eat when you put the food down instead of just grazing.

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Old 04-09-2019, 12:16 PM
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Are you putting the food down for 15 min then taking it up at each meal time? This will teach him to eat when you put the food down instead of just grazing.

We put the food down when we eat breakfast and stays down until it's picked up (hectic mornings) but not overly long, though longer than 15 minutes.
Evening feed is after dinner and that one is probably out also not overly long but longer than 15 minutes.

He is not grazing though. He goes over and smells it and walks away. Since we added the wet to see if that entice him, he smells it, licks the wet and walks away. Does not come back or eat it regardless if it is all dry or wet and dry.
Ok, i won't worry about him eating for another day. He certainly isn't acting fatigued or anything like that. And he had a nice big poop Monday morning (he may have pooped in the yard since then but that was the last one I saw).
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Old 04-09-2019, 05:53 PM
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All the vets and hospitals tell me for both dogs and cats around here that wet food is better than dry. I only give any dry because they seem to like it too.
I give dental treats for their teeth.
My last dog lived to be almost twelve and had perfect teeth no dental issues. Most if my cats died from cancer, some had teeth issues some didn't, was more genetic than diet caused.
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:45 AM
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I set aside little chunks of chicken and we used those this morning.

Chicken is definitely a high reward treat. So excited for chicken chunks.

Still not eating much. But seems more interested in her food. Smelling it longer, eating a few bites. And she had a poop on yesterdays walk so things must be coming in.
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