There is nothing “Zen” or unique, or special, or beneficial, or even remotely interesting about bribing a dog with food. Any FOOL can make a dog or pup perform a “watch me” command by sticking a food treat near a dog’s nose and then holding it up to their own eye. This then causes the pup to look up at the person’s face. This is the most basic and almost unmentionable start of typical training across the land. This is exactly the method used by big chain store (but usually low-quality) trainers!
Does this mean you should never use food treats? No, of course not. You can use food treats to the advantage of your relationship with your dog occasionally. But we should NEVER start the foundation of obedience and training and behavior modification with food!!!!!!! Those that do are treating our domesticated dogs just like a wild animal!
When the mother and father dog build a relationship based on respect and trust and communication with their pups are they using food treats? Is the pup’s misbehavior ignored or addressed by the parent dogs or is it constantly “redirected” with food or toys like many bad trainers and bad behaviorists would teach you to do with your pup? Does the mother dog use a clicker and come equipped with treats and high-pitched praise?
When raising my own pups into adult doghood I used treats. Shocking to some of you, I know. Let me clarify…I used treats properly. As TREATS not as CONSTANTS or NONSTOPS and it was only as an OCCASIONAL Supplement and Seldom if ever based upon the behavior.
Save using treats for behavior for when you want to bribe a wild squirrel at the park to come into your spatial bubble or focus on you. You can extend your arm and hold out a peanut. The squirrel will then slowly come over within arm’s reach and take the treat from you. Congrats! (Not really – I’m being sarcastic) You just earned a little bit of ill-balanced trust from a wild creature. I say “ill-balanced” because that is exactly what it is.
Does that squirrel respect you? Do you really respect and know the language and social cues of the squirrel? Have you taken the easy way out and just bribed the furry thing to come to you. Will the squirrel come to you in an emergency? Will the squirrel only come if there’s food? Does the squirrel have thousands and thousands and thousands of years of domestication and close partnership living in our homes and working for and with humans?
Are you starting to understand why food treats used with dogs and pups can be largely unnecessary except as an occasional supplement to motivation?
Food treats are an external motivator and have Nothing to do with the internal motivation and intrinsic relationship between you and your dog or pup! Also if we want calmness and more relaxation in our housedog why are we constantly adding more excitement through treats?!
Beware the over-simplified and extremely dogmatic viewpoint of training and behavior mod. from proponents of “positive only” of “force free” folks…talk about short-sighted imbalanced and unnatural methods that contribute to the terrible rise in dog fear, hyperactivity, and aggression! (And equally Beware overly harsh, punitive mostly trainers too!) Wooooohoooooo
We differ from all those status quo trainer and behaviorists because, unlike them, we know our dogs are socially brilliant and unlike them, we know as we go into the future together we don’t actually want to constantly have to be our dog’s focus point and the answer to every question our dog has. THIS out-dated concept: where the owner is the constant answer to every problem in the dog’s life leads to excessive bribery with treats in training methods and the unnatural over-focus on the owner in order for the dog to ignore every natural and social thing that happens to occur in the environment. This is unnatural and tends to backfire often! Personally I don’t want to be the answer to everything in my dog’s life…it’s too much work! The mother dog doesn’t want to be the answer for everything either! That should be a TEMPORARY position we have until the pup reaches maturity and has more self-control. Our dogs should look to us for many answers…but not all of them. They need to learn calmness and self-control so we don’t have to forever be “training” them. They need to be respectful of our shared society and they need to be TRUSTWORTHY.
Believe us, we know, because we are constantly re-training after so many Tacoma and Seattle dog training companies focus on the frivolous tricks and obedience while sacrificing the more important internal issues at hand.
When I teach the Garrett Stevens Method we strive to be balanced with nature and to uphold what the parent dogs would do – we always ask – IS THIS CALMING AND BENEFICIAL TO THE RELATIONSHIP? and this is what yields the tremendous, real results our clients rave about.
The house dog, the companion dog, of the future should be calm enough to NOT have to perform “watch me” or a “focus” command every two seconds and should be trustworthy enough to be left almost unattended, or at least partially ignored and not have to perform a “down stay” or some other frivolous form of obedience training with us perpetually keeping a sharp eye on them!!! We must STOP training our puppies as if they all will become professional working dogs!!! THAT IS SO OUTDATED IT’S RIDICULOUS AND…IT’S NOT CALMING IN THE LEAST!!!
Cultivate a real relationship based on respect and trust and calmness and clear canine communication and you’ll never regret it!
Questions? We love comments and questions. For more info please read my books, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! or the brand spanking new, So Long Separation Anxiety These books will alter your entire perspective on dogs, their language, their behavior, and how we interact with them. If you’ve done other training or behavior mod. you’re gonna Adore these babies!