Why Treats Might Not be Working As Well for Your Dog as They Do That Whale on TV
Thanks Travel Pod for The Photo
I get this question a lot actually or versions of it.
People say their dog just isn’t treat motivated, or they can’t get him to listen.
I have written a few articles on finding your dog’s motivators for more on that click here. and what else can be used for motivators like non-traditional motivators for more on that click here. both of these articles will give you more ideas on what might motivate your dog.
But I had a client the other day that literally said, “Treats don’t work on my dog like they do for those Killer Whales on TV”.
I chuckled a little to myself (only to myself) because I understand that some people actually see the training of whales or exotic animals as the same as training their pet.
In some ways they are very similar; you are using motivators to get the animals to do certain behaviors or lure certain behaviors but after that things significantly change!
Your Dog is Not a Marine Mammal
Your dog is no marine mammal, nor is his life anywhere similar to those marine mammals people see doing the shows for Sea World or on TV.
Your dog lives in your environment with you, probably lays on your furniture and gets used to not paying attention to your babbling.
We condition our dogs to ignore us most of the time, yet we want their attention their attention at the drop of a hat.
Dogs basically are domesticated and we treat them as such.
These marine mammals are actually wild animals with behaviorists and trainers that work with them (often, probably spend much more time training them than you or I ever work with our dogs) but they don’t live with them in their environment.
These mammals do not learn to ignore the voice or whistle of their trainer; instead they learn that that is the ONLY way they are rewarded and therefore fed.
And let me just remind you this is why I use a clicker… although Marine Mammals are not trained with clickers they are trained with whistles they can hear above and underwater.
They Work for Their Food
Marine mammals don’t get fed every morning because they are cute; they have to work for their food.
I don’t mean they have to work for their treats; I mean they have to work for their FOOD.
This is the other big difference between the two types of training.
We would be calling animal rights activists if the neighbor made his pet dog skip 2 meals in order to motivate him more for dog training.
Yet we don’t realize that these amazing exotic mammals are working for everything they eat.
I can only imagine that if my dog didn’t learn to ignore me because I live with and babble to him all the time and if I made him work for each and every kibble he got chances are he would probably listen better too!
I have friends who feed their competition dogs only from their hands and while they are working. These dogs have never eaten out of a bowl, instead they train to eat.
Now before you get your panties in a bunch you should realize that your dog would actually much prefer spending time with you read this “Working for a Living in Dog Training”
Would your kids want to be locked up or have their food thrown at them with no interaction? My guess is no! We actually all like a little interaction with our meals!
I actually wish I had the time to work all my dogs for their meals, but I succumb to a busy lifestyle don’t always make the time. But I guarantee you my dogs love it when I do make the time, they don’t think they are working or being punished… they just enjoy the interaction!
What Can You Do?
Well I don’t expect you to kick your dog out of your environment; part of the reason we like dogs is because we live with them!
But do make sure that when you issue a command you make your dog listen!
Don’t give a command you can’t enforce!
Work with Your Dog
Train and work with your dog! Your dog is waiting for the interaction and would love nothing more than training, playing, learning tricks and working with you!
Remember that everything that lives needs food, so at some point food is a motivator.
You may have to take the unlimited food supply up off of the floor; you may even need to skip a meal or two here and there to remind your dog that food is rewarding!
If you want flawless dog obedience, like those whales on TV, you have to invest your time and training to achieve it!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.