Friday, November 20, 2009

5 myths about training dogs with treats

Does recycling posts make this a "green" entry? VBG

I share with you an excellent post on training with food rewards: I couldn't have said it better myself.

I only have to add that not everyone who uses food in training knows how to do it properly. Timing is important as is knowing how to fade it out of the picture. (which also involves knowing what to substitute in it's place to keep the dog working that makes it worth it for the dog!)

And again, positive doesn't equal permissive. I really cannot say that enough. When a dog gets paid for doing a behavior we want, and not paid for behaviors we do not want, they will increase doing the behaviors that we do want. (and yes we can give feedback on the behaviors we do not like both verbally and using body language) Dogs only do behaviors that work for them in some way remember.

Food is also a great tool in the use of changing the emotion of the event for many dogs with behavior issues. Pairing something scary with a high value reward through enough repetition can then have the dog looking forward to the previously scary event/item/person/animal. Again, it needs to be done properly. (this is called classical conditioning)

Here is one past post I wrote on the subject that gets a little more in depth on how to use food in training the right way: (more posts can be found with the google search gadget above)

And if that doesn't make you reconsider using food in training (for those readers that do not already) then consider the following thoughts written by a fellow trainer:

"One of the things I think people sometimes overlook, when they express concern about reward being used to reinforce behavior, is the way it can build a relationship.
Healthy relationships are built on mutual give-and-take--when first meeting someone, if they ask about our work and interests, laugh at our jokes, make us feel good, and don't stick us with the check for dinner, that's a good start.
People who offer nothing, either emotionally or practically, are generally somewhere on a scale of disinteresting down to toxic--not generally someone with whom most of us would want to begin a relationship.
Dogs we've just met don't have a career about which we can ask, jokes at which we can laugh, etc. We can show our interest in what they are doing for us by rewarding with food, the opportunity to do favorite actions, physical touch they enjoy, etc. That doesn't mean that it is bribery, or a shallow connection that can easily be broken.
It frustrates me when people think that reward-based training will make the dog dependant on treats--done right, it does just the opposite; it makes all you have to offer valuable. After a short while, this extends not only to food, praise, petting, toys, outings, etc. --it extends to your very presence.
But, we need to start with something basic, elemental, primary, for these nonverbal creatures. Just as with feeding and holding a baby, providing food is one of the first ways into most dogs' consciousness, to let them know we are a part of their lives.
If the first tiny seeds that grew into the relationship I have with my dogs were germinated in a cube of cheese, fertilized with ear scritches, watered with the door to the potty yard being opened, and warmed with the sunshine of tossed toys, that's fine with me! At this point we are as intertwined as the branches of a mature tree, and the flow of mutual reward is constant, even if there isn't a crumb, toy or doorknob in sight!
Ellen Brown


Mrs. Lazaro said...

I love that last paragraph. It makes for a wonderful quote. :] And it's all very true, of course.

(Thanks for the help with Blogger, yesterday, too! I think I've figured it out, lol.)

Marie said...

Hey no problem. There will always be those "blog stalkers" we need to protect ourselves from. Crazy people apparently have way to much time on their hands.

I'll get that photo scanned as soon as he prints them at work. Sorry MY camera needed to be charged.

JulieandCaleb said...

This is fantastic, and cannot be repeated enough!

The last paragraph was particularly poetic.

Lauren Hinsman said...

YES! This is so hard to get through people's heads in the gundog community. Thank god for trainers like you and Mike S. When I was raising Orli, I used negative coersion techniques and then spent the next three years (and even now) working my butt off for her trust. When we brought Eider home, we worked so hard to make everything wonderful. Every potty outdoors was a symphony of praise and snacks! Anything bad was simply ignored, cleaned up, put away and followed by an opportunity to succeed. The result???? A super-confident, sweet puppy who LOVES to work. He will work for anything; treats, praise, retrieve or even a little butt scratch. Training this way is so much easier and faster.

Go treats go!