Archive for the ‘food rewards’ Tag

If you need to remember how to smile, watch this!   Leave a comment

I’ve just watched this happy dog show with a broad smile on my face.  No matter what your opinion on dogs doing ‘tricks’ it’s clear these dogs are having a ball.

Key things I noticed:

  • between each little ‘act’ the dogs rush back to the handler for their treat;
  • the handler is full of exuberance and enthusiasm;
  • if the dogs had been maltreated or punished during the training they would not be giving such clear signs of having fun – dogs don’t lie;
  • not one sign of inter dog aggression or jealousy, it’s so satisfying to see a bunch of dogs working together;
  • I didn’t spot a single pedigree in the group.

Don’t underestimate what your dog can learn with the right attitude and patience on your part, plus a little imagination and a whole lot of time!

Dog Show.

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Training Tip: Will I have to use treats forever?   Leave a comment

Training Tip – from ThinkingPets Sept Newsletter. See whole newsletter @ ThinkingPets.com.

We get a lot of questions from concerned owners about food rewards and where it ends. “Will I always have to carry around a treat to get my dog to do what he’s told?” No you won’t. Food rewards help you initially teach your dog the behaviour that you want, such as ‘sit’ or ‘down’. After your dog knows the command off by heart, you can start to fade out the food rewards.

  • The key is to do it gradually. Start by asking your dog for a behaviour such as sit without any food in your hand. When he complies, reward him with multiple treats.
  • Once your dog can do that reliably, start asking for two behaviours before giving a reward. So ask the dog to sit and then down, for example, before giving the treat. Later you can ask for three or four behaviours in a row.
  • In the beginning, reward your dog 9 out of every times with a treat. The rest of the time you can simply use a click or say ‘good boy’. Once that is going well, start rewarding every 8 times out of 10 and so on.
  • Do make sure that you don’t accidentally always reward the ‘sit’ and not the ‘down’ with food, for example, when varying rewards.
  • Random reinforcement works very well; for the dog it’s like gambling. He will do his best every time, just in case this is the time he’ll get that cookie!
  • Never totally stop rewarding your dog. But you can work with your dog so that sometimes when you are without a treat, a good cuddle or ‘good dog’ will do just as well.
And now from me:
When you use reward based training, you have to find a reward that your dogs really wants/likes, not just one that you think he “should” like.  So do a bit of research trying out foods – for some dogs bits of apple can be as rewarding as biltong.  Ideally the food should keep well when out of the fridge if you’re not using it immediately.  There should also be a heirachy of treats – the less interesting ones for easy stuff, esp perhaps at home where there are few distractions, and exciting yummies for the park/training class.
I use a mixture of treats for my classes: Eukanuba puppy biscuits break easily and are well liked by the pups, plus thin slices of viennas dried in the oven, chopped up droe wors, cat pellets, dry liver biscuits.  All these keep well in an airtight container between sessions.
Just had a wonderful weekend at Langebaan where we had fun walking our friend’s dog on the beach – her friendly play invitations to the other dogs around weren’t always well received but she found a few pals to charge around with, such a pleasure to watch!  It’s what I encourage my clients to aim for – a well socialised animal, but obedient to it’s humans so it can go out and about and be a pleasure to have around.