Food is probably the most used treat in puppy training. It serves as the bridge between the puppy and the trainer. That is the trainer has something the puppy wants (food) and the puppy has to do something the trainer wants (respond to commands or change behavior) to get it. One has to be careful when using food in training puppies because if you don’t you might mislead him. Below are some of the key things one has to know about how to use food in training your puppy.
First Things First…
First of all you have to identify whether your puppy is food oriented or not. If your dog is not food oriented he won’t respond particularly well when it is used as a reward for good behavior. If food does not appeal to your puppy all you need to do is to substitute it with another reward that appeals more to him say toys.
The other thing you have consider when thinking about how to use food in training your puppy is the existence of anything that distracts your dog from paying attention to food as treat to rewarding good behavior. Things such as children screaming and buzzing cars may drift the puppy’s attention away from the food. You have to know how to train your puppy with food in such conditions or eliminate the distraction altogether for you to regain the puppies attention.
Another thing you have to take care of is not to overemphasize the role of food in the learning process. This risks the puppy viewing food as a bribe rather than a reward. Use the treat moderately and withdraw it gradually and stop using it altogether when the puppy masters the lesson. Failing to reduce the role of food in the training process will give the puppy the notion that the training is about food rather than about learning to obey the commands.
Variety is the Spice of Life
You also have to use different kinds of food. Puppies just like human beings have different tastes. One type of food may appeal to one puppy but may not appeal to the other puppy and thus the trainer should identify the food that appeals to that particular puppy for the reward to be an effective treat to reward good behavior. Using a variety of foods also guarantees that the puppy will stay interested as he would not get the chance to ‘get used to’ a particular treat.
Furthermore you have to use smaller amounts of treats to reward the puppy. Using large amounts may make the puppy disinterested once he gets satisfied and may not respond to the lessons towards the end of the sessions. It is also important to use small treats because it helps the puppy maintain its weight and have normal growth.
Lastly you have to gradually reward desired behavior not only when they perform the whole lesson perfectly but also when they make the right step towards achieving the set targets. Identify progress in your puppy’s learning and reward it. This will encourage him to be committed and will make your work as a trainer easier.