Should you be using food to train your dog?

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Many dog owners and trainers use food treats when training their dogs to emphasize positive reinforcement.

However, you may have heard some people criticize this method of training claiming that:

  • Treats are bribes.
  • If you use food, your dogs will not obey you without it.
  • Dogs should work because they want to please you.
  • Dogs should work for praise.
  • Training using treats is fine for trying to teach your dog to do tricks but not for behavior training.

I wondered what the truth is, so I did some research and here is what I found.

MYTH #1: You should never use food to get your dog to respond to you because your dog will then only listen to you if you have food in your hand.

This is completely false. According to Doggy Dan, the world famous dog trainer from, dogs will listen to you whether you have food or not, but he trained all of his dogs initially with food rewards.

Give the command that you want your dog to learn and model for him what you want him to do. You will need to repeat this process over and over again until the dog responds to the command. When he does respond to the command, immediately give him a food treat and praise him. Once your dog has learned to respond to the command, you can begin phasing out the food reward slowly and gradually.

Eventually, your dog will no longer need the food reward to respond to the command.

Take a look at Doggy Dan’s complete dog and puppy training site, particularly the videos on training using rewards to see this illustrated. CLICK HERE

MYTH #2: Dogs should just be happy to work for you without any food rewards.

Would you work at your job without getting paid? I am guessing, but probably not! Why should that be any different for your dog? They will work harder for you when they believe they will be rewarded. You do not need to reward every successful behavior with a food treat; however you do need to include food treats in your assortment of training rewards. Some dogs also respond well to hugs and pets and, if they are like my dog, a great game of catch with their favorite ball.

I learned a lot about training and rewards with the training videos available on Doggy Dan’s complete dog and puppy training website. This site has over 250 training videos that cover every behavior you could want to train your dog to do and those you want to train them not to do.

And remember, Dan gives you a $1 trial of the site for 3 days! To get YOUR access now just CLICK HERE

Need help training your pooch?
Here is a great resource full of video guides that will make it easy. Click here >>

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