Many researchers have found that the simplest and most effective method of dog training is to use food and treats as rewards. The American Kennel Club concurs by stating that the use of treats is really the only way to get a dog to repeat a desired behavior.
It has been proven that nearly any other method will not be as effective. Some have even been proven to sever the delicate relationship between you and your furry friend. Though it’s true that punishment can also be effective at modifying canine behaviors. After all, all animals in the wild understand that the avoidance of pain usually means that they will live longer. But, training Spot using punishment techniques can cause him or her to have serious side effects, such as anxiety, stress, and fear. This is especially true when he or she is around human beings. You are also training your dog to be afraid of you.
However, if you expect man’s bet friend to obey your commands simply out of love, it is not really likely to happen. Zazie Todd, author of “Wag: The Science of Making your Dog Happy,” says the idea of food rewards is similar to going to work in exchange for payment. She said most people would stop working for their companies if their pay were to be withheld, and Rover is no different!
A study conducted at Virginia Tech compared a reward of petting and praise to food rewards and dogs clearly preferred the latter. While dogs enjoy human company, our chatter simply does not compare to food or treats. Ironically, dogs have been found to stick around humans for the same amount of time whether they are being praised, petted, or ignored.
Strangely enough, there are some dogs that will not react to a food or treat reward. These are usually dogs that are already overfed. It is important to note that any food or treats used for training purposes should be a part of his or her daily caloric intake. If you are giving him or her additional food or treats for training purposes, and Fido doesn’t respond, take into consideration the possibility that he or she is too stuffed to be food-motivated.
Some dogs also get tired of the same foods and flavors all the time and you may need to think outside the box for training purposes. After all, most dogs will eat nearly anything with little consequence, so get creative! Save your dog some sumptuous table scraps, or maybe buy him or her some cheese, or give him or her a brand new type of kibble. Mixing it up and giving your dog a variety of tastes will certainly provide much more motivation to work for a food or treat reward.
In conclusion, food rewards have been proven to be the best method for training even the laziest or most stubborn of canines. After all, all creatures have to eat, and as long as that’s true, owners will have a sure-fire, safe, and positive way to train their faithful companions.