Pawsative Pups: Why are we afraid to treat our dogs?

Lisa Davies is a new columnist for Black Press who writes about dog training

I’ve seen a trend in some areas of Canada, the US and probably other countries as well. Many trainers refer to it as “treat free” training, while others just refer to treats as bribery, or worse yet, a gimmick?!!!

Using words like gimmick and bribery, towards one of the easiest, most reliable forms of reinforcement for dogs (and most other animals in fact!) is a lack of understanding in animal behavior. Any animal will repeat behavior that is reinforced and decrease behavior that is not, it’s all about motivation and reinforcement history.

When we talk about reinforcement, we are talking about what the animal finds reinforcing, and not what WE think they find reinforcing! This is key to being a good partner and trainer for your dog. So, if you ask your dog to sit, and when she does, you say “good girl” and pet her, but she doesn’t continue consistently when asked, it may very well be that she doesn’t find being pet (especially on the top of the head!) very reinforcing!! Many of us just assume every dog enjoys it, when in fact, it is us that find it extremely enjoyable to pet our pups!

Studies like this one have been done to test whether dogs do prefer food or petting as reinforcement. In this study, they tested wolves and dogs!

The wonderful thing about food is how simple it is to use.

View this post on Instagram

This blue grenadier it’s so crunchy crunch crunch 😍 – Don’t forget to check out @bones.and.whiskers treat bags !!! ❤️ (Use code : TANK for discount) – #staffordshirebullterrier #staffy #staffysofinstagram #dogsofmelbourne #staffylovers #instadogs #dogsofinstagram #dog #staffysofinstagram #instastaffy #bluestaffy #doggo #bluestaffordshirebullterrier #furbabies #staffymoments #furbaby #dogoftheday #staffygram #hkdogs #dogslover #staffy_daily #毛小孩 #スタッフォードシャーブルテリア #犬 #狗 #犬のいる暮らし #犬バカ部 #狗狗 #犬好きな人と繋がりたい #犬のいる生活

A post shared by Tank (@tank.bluestaffy) on

It is your dog’s pay cheque! You go to work, you get paid monetarily. Your dog does as asked (her form of work) and she gets paid with a treat of some sort, or kibble. I’m not saying you can’t move to other forms of reinforcement such as toys, or play later. But when teaching new behaviors, this is the quickest (way to deliver) and easiest way to teach them. Without a doubt, dogs are much happier being treated for behaviours we like , instead of corrected for behaviours we don’t.

So, why is it that we are poisoning the thought of treating our dogs?

Why are some trainers making food seem like a bad thing when training dogs?

If we want to call it a gimmick, then isn’t any other tool or equipment we use to train our dog’s also a gimmick? For trainers using corrections, what about prong collars or e-collars (shock collars), these must be on a dog for them to respond to owners. Dogs trained with these methods are only responding to escape a correction of some form. Wouldn’t we all rather have a dog that is doing what we ask, because they are having fun and hoping for something great when they do? I know I would.

This is a great article about using corrections in dog training:

  • Here’s the great thing about food, the part that people and some trainers just haven’t learned yet! There is no bribing or gimmicks!! We simply ask for the behavior and THEN feed. This is key. We don’t SHOW the food (which could be considered a bribe perhaps) and ask the dog for a behavior. That “show me the money” form of treat training/positive training can get a dog to start waiting to see the food prior to responding to a cue, but that is simply a handler error that is easy to fix.
  • Don’t we want our dogs to be happy and NOT stressed when we train? Don’t we have dogs to add enrichment to our lives? Training should be fun! One of the best books I’ve ever read is by Karen Pryor called Don’t Shoot The Dog. Karen Pryor was a marine mammal trainer originally and now runs one of the top dog training schools in the world, the Karen Pryor Academy, and yes, one of the primary forms of reinforcement we use is at the Academy is food!

Missed the last column?

Pawsative Pups: The ‘howl’idays are here

About Lisa Davies:

Lisa Davies (KPA-CTP, CDBC, CTC) has been training for 17 years. She graduated from the Academy for Dog Trainers, the Harvard of Dog Training Programs, and is also a certified Behaviour Consultant, specializing in aggression, including dog to human. She has a huge passion for helping rescues become more adoptable through training and is an BC SPCA Animalkind Accredited Trainer.

She shares her home with her husband, two Terriers, a Pointer and a Chihuahua, two goats, a miniature horse and two bunnies.

Contact Lisa at:

Pawsitively Canine Dog Training Services

www.pawsitivelycanine.ca

(604)836-5948

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Invasive mussel monitoring stations detect 10 boats

Boats were headed to Okanagan and Thompson regions

COVID-19 outbreak at Okanagan Correctional Centre, involves 3 staff

Three staff involved in possible exposure, health officials say

Summerland mayor asks for community conversation on racism

Incidents in July prompt calls for dialogue

COLUMN: Waiting for answers on COVID-19, benefits and WE charity

Recent questions raised in the House of Commons have not yet been answered

Missing toddler wandered for three hours in Beaverdell area before being found

The two-year-old boy was found safe by his uncle on Beaver Creek Road on Aug. 12

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Man who drove into music festival crowd sentenced to 14 months in jail

Several people seriously hurt during event held near Princeton

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Vandals put Vernon public piano out of play

Downtown instrument destroyed, but public project is not over

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Salmon Arm’s first Bitcoin ATM installed in mall

The kiosk will allow people to buy cryptocurrency or sell it for cash.

Westside wildfire human caused

Blaze started as a house fire and spread to the bush

Summerland working to reopen recreation facilities

Arena and pool are opening, but ball season will not proceed

Surrey man found guilty in West Kelowna killing of common-law spouse

Tejwant Danjou was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of Rama Gauravarapu in West Kelowna

Most Read