Dog Forum banner

1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My dog is treat driven. She will play with toys at home but at our training facility she will not work for toys/tug as a reward. I was thinking about pairing the clicker with a tug or ball toss as a reward? Has anyone tried this? Other ideas for fading food as THE reward?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,613 Posts
I have two dogs, and while both are toy driven now, they weren't always (well the BC was, she's crazy). To get him to build toy drive, I would get him very amped up (by running, wrestling, chasing) then present a toy. In his aroused state, he would grab the toy, and if he tugged for one second, I would say "yes!" and reward with a treat. I would then vary length of tugging (sometimes shorter, sometimes long) and always reward with a treat. Once he was reliably grabbing and tugging, I didn't always reward with a treat.
Eventually he realized the tugging was way more fun, because the food reward was over quickly, but the play reward lasted much longer.
They also have tug toys like this Bunny Jackpot & Tug that you can stuff treats in to really engage them. If you're looking for a cheaper option, you can also do this by stuffing really smelly food (think hot dogs or cheese) into a sock and engaging your dog that way. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,437 Posts
Why do you feel you need to find something other than food as a reinforcement?
What type of training do you do at the facility?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
531 Posts
I've been able to build more "praise drive" for lack of a better word using pretty much the same procedure you'd use to charge a clicker. I also managed to make retrieving a pretty self-rewarding act for my dog, considering he is not a retrieving breed. (He got the concept quickly but it wasn't his favorite thing to do initially - he has a lot more fun with it now.)

I reinforce periodically, but it seems like the plan worked overall. I did it because treats are things I can run out of, so increasing the value of other rewards was convenient.

I suspect you could adapt the same kind of thing to build toy drive too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
316 Posts
I don't think there's anything wrong with using food as your main reward. If you're looking to increase drive/enthusiasm/arousal, you can do that with food too (look into food games, with Denise Fenzi covers in one of her dog sports books). Food gets a mysteriously bad rap in some circles, but like all training stuff, it's really about how versatile you can learn to be (or your trainer can teach you to be, since you're learning this in a class).

That said, it is hard to use click/treats to increase enthusiasm for tugging. Not impossible, just hard, because food is a massively overshadowing stimulus...just like your dog cannot tug in a busy training class, many dogs cannot tug in the presence of food, so it basically ends after the first click/treat (or becomes something the dog does only in the most perfunctory way, unless you're really good at shaping for enthusiasm/arousal as you go). While you can mix tug and treats and end up with a decent tug game, I don't really recommend it.

Instead, since you have a dog who will tug at home, I suggest two things. One is to increase the value of tugging at home. Use new toys, surprising toys that your dog never has access to except during tugging. Cut the games just a little bit short (or quit as soon as your dog starts to lose interest, without waiting for her to get bored). Incorporate some chasing/running to get her more excited, and then whip out the tug toy and really let her go to town on it. Use tug as a "reward" after highly exciting tricks/behaviors, and see how enthusiastic she really is (if she is expecting food, I'd guess not that enthusiastic...when she starts to get excited about 'working' for tug, then you've got a promising start).

Then, start tugging for very brief periods in very low-distraction settings (not home, not in your training class). Like, on your front porch. Or in a very quiet park, or at a friend's house, or whatever other "boring" places you might visit regularly. Don't expect your dog to be as enthusiastic about tugging as she is at home, and don't introduce the tug toy while she's still sniffing around and settling into the new environment, but once she's relaxed and paying attention to you, run around, get her excited, and then whip out that thrilling tug toy. Or cue the exciting behavior, and use tug as the reward (when it's a reward she'd expect at home). It takes time, but you can keep a training journal to help see how even little incremental progress builds on itself.

Most importantly: have fun!
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top