Most dogs will go to great lengths for the opportunity to enjoy a good treat. Because of this food-motivated behavior, many dog owners choose to train their dogs using goodies, but what if your dog isn’t keen on your sackful of cookies and bones? It might feel hard to teach dog obedience exercises training if you don’t have the right motivation. You need some secret aids to grab their attention and get them to listen, and if rewards aren’t working, it’s time to try something else. The great news is that treats aren’t your sole option for instruction. Keep reading and start your dog training now! (Check here for information on house training a dog, best dog training, good dog training, dog training guide, and free dog training.)
What Is Training A Non-Food Motivated Dog
A dog being trained is encouraged by food and snacks, which is the most accessible type of basic dog training to work with. However, there is a lot of variety in that group. Some dogs prefer peanut butter, while others prefer cheese or hamburgers. Frozen vegetables, Doritos, and French fries are among the most unusual items.
A dog driven by compassion or fun rather than food is rare but not unknown. Before you decide whether or not you have one of these kids, make sure you try various foods. If your dog was driven by food at home but has lost all interest at the parks or in a puppy training program, you may require a high-value reward. However, if your dog is always more interested in you than in food, you certainly have an affection-driven dog. If your dog would go to great lengths for his tennis ball but ignores your treat, then play is most likely his thing.
Why Doesn’t Your Dog React To Treats?
It might be challenging to train a dog who is not motivated by food. If you don’t want to use food to train your dog, plenty of alternative options are available. However, before going to these places, it’s necessary to understand why a dog isn’t engaged in food in the first place.
It’s possible that there’s a health issue at play or that the goodies you’re using aren’t worth much to the dog. A dog that is “not food-oriented” may be the result of a dog owner who, for whatever reason, does not wish to utilize dog training treats. The most crucial first step is to identify the root problem.
If you’re new to exercising, you might be unsure who you should listen to. Or perhaps you’ve been told that food isn’t an excellent way to work out. But, before you start your program, keep in mind that we all have an instinctive inclination to seek data that supports our ideas while dismissing information that disproves them.
Here are some specific reasons:
- The Dog Is Too Fat
Being overweight in dogs, like obesity in people, is a significant problem in most today. Many well-intentioned dog owners aren’t even aware that their dog is heavy when they see one. When advised about the significance of maintaining a healthy weight, pet owners frequently tell me that their vet didn’t indicate his weight was a concern.
It’s vital to get your overweight dog back to a healthy weight for physical and mental well-being. Before starting a new dog training routine, consult your doctor and have any medical conditions ruled out, such as thyroid problems or diabetes. Also, our personal preference is to stay away from diet foods. The remedy, like with people, is not what you (or your dog) want to hear – eat less and exercise more. No miraculous medications, meals, or creams exist.
- Treats Are Inadequate
Dogs are sometimes labeled as “obstinate” or lacking in food motivation when, in reality, they’ve been taught to avoid everything save the highest-value reinforcers. When a handler enters a puppy training setting with a dog, it usually pulls out the lowest-value reward first. The dog dismisses the reward as if it were a teenager being paid 50 cents to tend the grass. After that, the instructor gives the dog a slightly higher-value reinforcer, such as a cookie or kibble. That’s still not exciting enough, so we move on to a food roll, then sandwich meat, then liverwurst, and finally steak — until the dog has given up hope that his master would whip out something even better if he just waits. Hard enough!
This is a form of backward dog obedience training, in which the dog is teaching the handler to provide better items consistently. Before you begin reactive dog training, perform some reinforcement sampling to see what your dog would happily work for in a specific training situation. A good trainer should assist you in re-establishing value and constructing a food reinforcement program that will get your dog back on track.
- Your Dog Is Stressed
The capacity and desire to eat of a healthy dog is a measure of his current emotional state. Food rejection in scared and reactive dogs might be an indication that we’ve passed a line. The capacity to eat is a gauge for a dog’s sense of security. A dog who is unable to eat is frequently in discomfort. While anguish is one sort of stress, “good stress,” or stress experienced in situations or activities that are really rather enjoyable, is another.
- Your Dog Sees Food as a Trap
When food is provided, I occasionally observe a dog that quickly engages in avoidance and appeasement behaviors, such as turning away, repeated yawning or lip licking, or pressing his ears against his skull. When dogs learn that wondrous thing is a trap, this sad state of affairs frequently occurs. This occurs when it is well owners attempt to “trick” the dog people into doing things he is afraid of, such as getting in the shower, having his ears cleaned or nails cut or being picked up, using food, typically extremely high-value food.
While reinforcement theory is a tried-and-true behavior modification strategy, it requires presenting a diluted form of the “scary object,” generally by changing distance and coupling food presentation with exposure. In any event, the dog has learned that “dangerous things predict good things (food),” not “scary things predict good things like food.”
Another use of classical conditioning that may be used to retrain these dogs to accept food as the good thing is to educate them that the presentation of food is followed by something they already enjoy, such as play or scratching. Find a reputable trainer to show you how to remind your dog that “eating is fun!” if you have a dog like this.
- Your Dog’s Breed Isn’t Food-Motivated
You’ll find all personality types within a breed, although some features, like food motivation, prey drive, and play drive, are more frequent in certain species. Food-motivated dogs like Labs and Beagles are particularly well-known, but terriers, herders, and guardian types are less so. By properly combining food with items that are already important to the dog, you may improve the value of food as a reinforcer (play, hunt, sniff, etc.).
You may come across the rare example of a dog who prefers high-energy activities, toys, or interpersonal praise to food on occasion, but these dogs are rare. Free-fed dogs’ diets could become fussy and lose their food motivation. Free-feeding simply means giving dogs access to their food 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It’s like having unlimited access to a fully-featured supper buffet, except the food is always the same and of one sort. It’s simple to see why dogs who are unrestricted aren’t interested in being trained with food if we put ourselves in their place.
- Your Dog Just Isn’t Hungry
It may be more difficult to encourage dogs who are “open fed” or have continual access to food. The value of reinforcement is determined by the animal’s desire for it at the time it is offered. If my stomach is full after Thanksgiving dinner, I may not be interested in or intentionally avoid cheesecake. Feeding at certain times helps you to predict when your dog will be starving and, as a result, more ready to work for food.
- Your Dog Is Sick
Finally, if your dog used to adore goodies but now refuses them, it’s time to see your veterinarian.
How To Really Train Your Dog Who Is Not Food Motivated
- Control The Treats
When you learn to be a dog trainer, consider dog treats to be cash. You’re essentially paying your dog to execute a particular activity, and some dogs will not work for pennies on the dollar. A primary type of dog treat will not be enough to entice your pup’s stomach, but a piece of chicken or a bit of cheese straight from the grilled might. Before you abandon treat-based positive reinforcement dog training, try a variety of high-value and puppy-safe items. As long as your fluff has no seemingly allergies or intolerances, meat, cheese, and peanut butter are thought to be all-around favorites.
- Remove Distractions
Distractions are an ever-present stumbling block when it comes to obedience training. You want your dog to really focus and look at whatever lesson you’re attempting to teach, but people, things, noises, and scents are sometimes far more intriguing than your nagging demands. A dog may actually decide that peering down the cat from across the street is worth foregoing a reward in order to do so.
If you’re attempting to train a new puppy, they can be too preoccupied with investigating their surroundings to see the reward in your hand. Take your dog somewhere calm and free of distractions to observe if they suddenly develop an appetite.
- Play as a Reward
Don’t give up if your dog repeatedly declines rewards, regardless of the type of food you provide. Simply said, you’ll need to use a different type of positive reinforcement. Interactive play will offer your dog something to work for while also building your relationship.
Hold out your dog’s favorite toy as if it were a treat, and reward them with a roaring round of their favorite sport as soon as they complete whatever task you’ve set for them. The key to the best way to train a dog is getting your dog to relax afterward so you can continue working. It will take time, but they will catch on rapidly with consistent activity.
Finally, playtime is an often neglected but extremely successful dog training at home for many dogs, especially if yours seems to have an unending supply of energy. If your dog appears focused on you but eager to get to the fun part of spending time together (read: playtime), try rewarding her with a fun dog toy or game instead of a snack — just make absolutely sure to do that as soon as she fulfills her part of the deal, just like you’d use dog training tools, to help her correlate the two. For example, you may ask your dog to “lie down” and then toss the tennis ball, or you can tell your dog to “come” and then play tug with a string toy.
- Practice With Praise
When they take your lunch and chew on your shoes, it’s hard to believe, yet most canine breeds are recognized for being happy people. They genuinely want to make you feel like the happiest person on earth, and praise may be just as powerful as rewards as a kind of positive reinforcement to train your dog in 15 minutes.
Even if they don’t understand your language, your tone of voice and body language may convey your message. You may reinforce the message by including some of their favorite things, such as butt scratching and belly massages. If you’re passionate and happy, they’ll quickly put the pieces together and figure out what behaviors deserve such positive answers.
Treats may not rank high on the “things I value” scale for certain dogs that aren’t very driven by food. Think about what high-value goods make your dog’s wish list in this scenario. The simple act of getting praise or personal contact might be enough of a reward for a dog at times. An encouraging touch or vocal encouragement from the person they most want to please might sometimes be the greatest gratifying reward of all. If your dog is constantly seeking attention but isn’t reacting to the food you’re giving, try rewarding it with its favorite form of love once she’s completed the task at hand, whether it’s a belly massage or an enthusiastic “good girl!” as well as a scratch on the head.
- Reduce Stress
Another thing to consider is that your dog might be scared rather than distracted. Treats are unlikely to pique a dog’s interest that is feeling fear, tension, or anxiety. All types of dog training, whether or not they include the home remedy, will require helping your dog feel safer and get to the core cause of whatever they are nervous about.
Furthermore, a dog that is physically ill or who suffers from GI discomfort on a regular basis may show little interest in food rewards. A trip to the veterinarian is recommended to rule out any underlying medical conditions, allergies, or other disorders that may be causing the lack of appetite.
- High–Value Treats
If your dog doesn’t seem to be motivated by food, it’s possible that she isn’t motivated by the food you’re giving her. Rather than company sweets, use smooth, chewy ones. Your dog wants more of them, and you want them to be little enough to be helpful. If premade training treats aren’t working for your dog, try additional high-value goodies that you know your pup won’t turn down, such as little bits of chicken breast flesh, banana slices, or dry fish.
- Make a Training Schedule
In dog training tips, while your dog may not be encouraged and driven by a reward right now, all dogs are driven by food to some extent merely to survive. Some dogs’ refusal to labor for food might be attributable to the fact that they are just not hungry. If your dog grazes on food and has unlimited access to kibble, you should try placing them on a meal schedule. This alteration will make it way easier for you and your fluff to recognize when your dog is hungry, which is a great time to work on some lessons.
It’s worth looking for something your dog enjoys to offer them an extra motivation to learn their lessons for the day — rejecting to learn a specific task is sometimes unavoidable, especially if you’re working on retrieving instructions or other courses that are critical to your dog’s security. It’s all about your dog and many dog lessons can help you to train that dog.
Become a dog trainer; it’s all about discovering something that works when it comes to domestic obedience training who isn’t motivated by treats. All dogs are unique, and you shouldn’t expect yours to fit into any of your preconceived notions. Spend time with the pups to get to know who they are. Experiment with different methods and, as usual, be patient.