Often in a dog training class when I see a client who’s dog isn’t interested in working for food, I think to myself, “Is this dog overweight, ill, fearful, or does this dog have free access to the food bowl?” Usually I am pretty good at guessing whose dog in a class has their food bowl left down at home.
The problem with giving your dog free access to food all day long is that the dog can habituate to the food and find it less interesting when it is used for training. The dog might also be too full during training for the rewards to have any meaningful value to the dog. The solution to this is not deprivation, or feeding the dog less food. It is simply making some of your dog’s daily food contingent on desirable behavior while the dog is motivated to want the food. If you are really trying to solve a problem behavior or want a really reliable recall, you just won’t get what you had hoped for if you are leaving food down for your dog to have free access to.
Also, if your dog is not eating all the food in his bowl after you put it down, it is most likely you are feeding your dog too much food, or that the dog is becoming bored of the food because he has constant access to it.
The blog post below will help you find out if your dog is overweight:
If your dog needs to have his food left down for medical reasons, make sure to find some treats that your dog finds more interesting than the food he has free access to.
25 Dog and Puppy Training Tips:
For each month of the year, I will release 2 training tips that will be accessible for free at dogmantics.com. If you simply cannot wait for the information to be published online, you can buy the collection of all 25 training tips in an ebook format here: 25 Dog and Puppy Training Tips
This is a list of all the tips included in the ebook, and that will be eventually available online:
- Teaching a dog previously kept outside to be calm inside the house
- The problem with ignoring unwanted behaviors
- Fading a lure
- Adding a verbal cue or changing a cue
- Dogs and babies
- Socializing tips- Our world can be a scary place!
- What to do if your puppy bites you OUTSIDE of a training session
- Changing your thinking from “I don’t like” to “I need to work on”
- What to use as reinforcement
- Treat deliveries
- Teaching your puppy appropriate greetings on leash
- Teaching “All done” for training sessions and dinnertime manners
- Variety is the spice of life… and training!
- Teaching your puppy to walk off leash
- Don’t let your dog free feed
- Don’t only work on one behavior at a time
- Separation training tips
- Monkey see, monkey do- Take advantage of social facilitation
- Always remember to release your dog!
- The importance of handling
- Teaching “Drop” and “Get it”
- What to do if your puppy sits and refuses to budge on a walk
- Training your dog to do absolutely… NOTHING!