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!

Thanks to a Dog's Best Friend for the photo

Thanks to a Dog’s Best Friend for the photo

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

thank you dolphin research center for the photo

thank you dolphin research center for the photo

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!

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Comments

  1. mike says:

    dolly is 8mths and i cant get her dry at night.
    i cant get her dry a night, she sleeps in her doggy cage she is taken for a wlk throughout the day woods etc , 5pm then 8 then b4 bed 10 ish, she normally does her business and then of to sleep, i cover her cage with a blanket she sleeps through out the night and we hear nothing from her until i wake her 7ish.any help would be a great help.
    many thanks
    Mike

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would set an alarm around 1 or so to get up and let her out at least for a little while and read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/dirty-puppy/

    [Reply]

  2. Velda Butler says:

    Polly is my 16-month-old female Pomeranian. I give her dog food, but she won’t eat it. She hangs around me in the kitchen to see if something will drop on the floor while I’m cooking! Shoud I offer her the dogfood at regular times and then take it away if she doesn’t eat it and them try again at another set time? I know she will continue to let me know she wants a “people” treat and won’t let up until she gets one. Any advice?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Stop letting her train you 😉 if you don’t give her people food she will stop begging for it.

    I use “people food” when I train but never when I am cooking or eating so my dogs don’t beg.

    I also meal feed so if you don’t eat your food in 5 minutes it gets taken up and put away. I have never seen a dog that wasn’t sick starve itself to death. When she is hungry she will eat.

    [Reply]

  3. Robert says:

    Odie is 20 mths.Blue Heeler. How can I stop him from running up to and jumping up on people? He doesn’t act aggressive or mean but people are intimidated when they see him running straight at them and then raise up to paw them with his front paws. Most people don’t help by making over him when he does it. I live in a very friendly trailer park and finding it difficult to chastise both Odie and my neighbors.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Use a leash and teach him manners read this it will better explain http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/avoid-leash-dog-training/

    [Reply]

  4. Earl Booth says:

    My 1 year old cockapoo loves to nip at people hands. She won’t
    bite….but nips it’s annoying. Then her other fate is….biting on stuff and running away it!!!! Is there anyway to solve this
    problem? thank you. E. Booth.

    [Reply]

  5. doribones says:

    I have an 8yr old shepherd, Hanna with allergies. She is on limited diet and not food motivated. Last April we adopted a shep/malamute, Brody, he’s more like a goat-he’ll eat anything and love it. After reading a previous blog, I started making them “work”for meals. It’s really a sort of hide and seek. Starting with sending them to their “spot” to lay-2or3 kibbles. Then stay, I’ll leave the room-sometimes returning to treat with a handfull of kibble each-sometimes calling them to me from a hiding spot. They have gotten good at finding me. Its fun for all 3 of us, yeah it takes about 1/2 hour to feed them, but we bond and they definatly listen to me and come when I call. This is the only way she will eat a full meal and when she has an aleergy flare-up, its still not enough. (just started on allergy shots, wish us luck!)

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Good for you!!!

    I used to have a dog with allergies also and I would use my dog’s prescription diet canned food to make special treats. I would bake some and I would freeze some in ice cube trays 🙂 Just another thought!

    [Reply]

  6. Donna Villers says:

    I found if I feed 1/2 of there food portions in morning or evening. Meals then use the other half for rewards ,It works very we’ll for us,they not overly excited for food and listen very good durning our lesson time.. And use the teats for bed time so I don’t feel bad .cause they do deserve a good treat,they are coming along very well

    [Reply]

  7. I signed up for the program,$34.98, and got no confirmation, no download,no half price response. I saw it withdrawn form my account…what’s up?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Contact Dana at customer service at info@thedogtrainingsecret.com and she will be able to help you

    [Reply]

  8. Linda says:

    My dog is 14 1/2 so I’m not sure if he can still be taught to pick an item up and give to me. My hip problem is making it very difficult to bend to pick things up.

    He knows his commands, although he sometimes has selective hearing, and ignores it. He is treat oriented and will do almost anything for roast beef or chicken. Is it possible to get him to act as a quasi service dog and pick something up? How would I begin?

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    at 14 and a half it will be difficult. First he needs a good dental evaluation. Many dogs of this age have lost teeth or need to have teeth extracted. And, the loss of teeth or pain in the mouth will limit retrieval.

    [Reply]

  9. Pam says:

    I have a 4 1/2 month old mini schnauzer. I still can’t get him to really let me know when he needs to poo. I have a bell at two of my doors that I am trying to get him to ring. I have just started putting his paw on the bell, saying good dog, and saying go poopoo. Before I was pushing the bell. With a lot more practices can I expect him to get that the bell needs to be rung so I know to open the door for him to go potty outside.

    I just caught him starting to poo on a family room rug, raised my voice a bit and said no, picked him up, rang the bell with his paw, said good dog, opened the door and said go potty or poopoo. (can’t remember which)..

    Am I too soon in the training?

    Pam

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    First, if he is still having accidents you need to make sure he is going out regularly enough that he stops having accidents at all. Keep him with you, tether him, crate him when you can’t watch him and make sure that behavior stops.

    THEN teach him about bell ringing read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/teaching-dog-puppy-ring-bell-successful-potty-training/

    [Reply]

  10. Deanna says:

    I have an 7 month old Irish wolfhound who at time is aggressive and most recently I added another wolf hound who is 9 weeks . My 7 month old is very aggressive with bitting
    him which I become very frighten for the safety of the pup.. What can I stop this?
    Dee

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Not all dogs like other dogs and can get along. I suggest a veterinary behaviorist to help.

    I can’t see the dog to assess the level of safety and aggression and you need someone who can: read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/recommend-veterinary-behaviorist-dog-trainer/

    [Reply]

  11. Halle says:

    I have an 12 week old Labrador retriever Sadie. She is very smart and already knows how to sit, stay, lay down, and is leash trained, but I can’t get her house trained. I try to take her out every 30-40min to let her go, but sometimes she has accidents. I know someone who suggested to use bells, but I am not sure if they really work. I leave her in her crate when I am gone and she rarely goes in there. Am I doing something wrong?

    – Halle

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Yes you are looking at it wrong, it is not about the puppy it is about you. Read these http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/potty-train-truth-potty-training/
    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/teaching-dog-puppy-ring-bell-successful-potty-training/

    [Reply]

  12. Jan Hunt-Kost says:

    We just adopted a two year old rescue beagle who will only potty during a long walk. We have a very lovely dog run which our past dog used.The new one will even urinate in it. Five a.m. walks are getting old fast. We would prefer to put her out into the dog run first thing and then walk her after breakfast. I can’t reward her for cooperating until she actually does something. She has had only one accident in the house — when we left her in the dog run and she refused to go. Any suggestions? Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You are going to need to “walk her” in the run first and let her successfully potty several times.

    If it were up to dogs, they would never defile their own yards. So it is very natural for dogs to want to urinate and defecate in other places than their territory.

    In order to be successful you are still going to have to take her out and wait for her to go, then let her inside. Always praise and make sure that is the only place you take her for a while.

    She is going to need to go potty, so if that is really her only option she will learn to go there.

    [Reply]

  13. Geske Glahn says:

    Sorry to bother you again with the same question but…how to teach my 3 tiny chihuahua sized dogs to respect the boundaries of our large garden and NOT squeeze under the fence to the neigbours and stay away all day? I HAVE looked at the blog and not found any answers.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    you have to go out with them on a leash and teach them, or you can fortify the fence, or you can use invisible fence.

    [Reply]

  14. Cindi says:

    I have a 10 year old female
    Pekingese/Pomeranian mix dog and she is amazing. She will come and find me wherever I am in the house and let me know that she has to go out and go potty. She has not had an accident since she was a baby.

    [Reply]

  15. Nancy says:

    i HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM WITH MY 6 MO OLD YORKIECHON…SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!

    [Reply]

  16. Inger says:

    I have 4 chihuahuas 2 females and 2 males. They all have access to my back yard. I leave the door open and they do their business there. Yet the two males pee in the house. How can I stop them from doing that? The males are 12 and 5 years old. The females do not pee in the house. How do I stop the males from going in the house? Please advise me what to do. Thank you Inger

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    By leaving the door open you are expecting them to know the difference between outside and inside…

    I find that dogs with doggy doors have more difficulty especially if used in the beginning of training, it can be confusing

    [Reply]

  17. Dick Haxel says:

    Your advice is very helpful and chocked full of ideas. We have a 3 month old goldendoodle named Ginger. She very smart and is learning quickly when we have the time to train. A few problems with going out to potty, but have just received our bell system to teach her to do that to go do her pottys. She doesn’t always come immediately when called if she knows you are out of site and the environment is very hideable. We can holler Ginger, come and sit and if she knows we have a treat for her she will come and sit. We may have doled out too many treats to her and now she expects one everytime we call her with the command Ginger come. How do we wean her off the treat thing? She has also developed her own pooping place on our large fenced deck and it would be nice if she would go out of the deck and do her thing at the side of the house where we wouldn’t have to go clean it up every time. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/misusing-treats-dog-training/

    http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/top-5-12-reasons-dog-called/

    and take the dog off the porch on a leash and direct her to where you want her to potty in the yard.

    [Reply]

  18. Damilola says:

    My GSD is 7weeks old but won’t stop peeing around. it keeps messing up my Rug. most times i can’t tell when it needs to pee. aside that my dog doesn’t like staying alone or restricted. it keeps crying and making too much noise each time i lock it in my bathroom. and thats the only safe place i can keep it till i come back from work.

    [Reply]

  19. Shannon W. says:

    Several of the above comments are concerning dogs peeing very frequently and/or in the house. My 5-month-old female Doberman, which I’ve had for only about 45 days, was doing this -like every 15-20 minutes. Taking her out every 15 minutes was really fun, and sometimes she still went inside. Turns out she had a bladder infection. We are now up to every 2-3 hours, and ALL night without accidents. Suggest perhaps a vet check.

    [Reply]

  20. Vicki says:

    I just adopted a great little 4 1/2 yr old springer who went 6 months without an adoption because prospective adopters were skittish about her urinary incontinence caused by having been spayed at too early an age (a fairly common thing). She is now fine as she is on Diethystlybestrol sp? (DES) twice a week, and 25 mg of Proin twice a day, at each meal.

    Take her to your vet and see what they suggest, depending on the cause.

    [Reply]

  21. Ali says:

    I have a five year old cattle dog/shepherd mix who thinks she’s a lap dog…when I say down in a stern voice she gets off sofa, how do I get her to stay off sofa?

    [Reply]

  22. Kayla says:

    I have a pit mix with a Chihuahua and when people come in and pet her and picks her up she starts peeing what dose that mean?

    [Reply]

  23. Bonnie says:

    I have a 4 month old yorkie mini dachshund mix and he really enjoys chewing up his pee pee pad paper. How can I break him of this habit/stage? P.S he already has more toys than he knows what to do with and many are specifically for his teething stage, but he still chews up the pad paper.

    [Reply]

  24. Karen says:

    I have a 4 year old lab and I can’t get him not pull on the leash. I’ve tried many different types of collars and harnesses and nothing works. He actually stays at my side better without a leash.

    [Reply]

  25. Linda Sittnick says:

    The I I have a Chiweenie a Chihuahua and a dachshund when I call him he does not want to listen he goes and he hides how can I correct them from that or when he’s outside and I yell at him and I tell him to come he won’t listen please leave a message and let me know how I could correct them thank you so much otherwise he’s a great does a good boy thank you

    [Reply]

  26. Monroe says:

    I’m curious if this thought on training would work if you just fed 1 meal a day by hand while working?? My dog has a very sensitive tummy & skin and therefore takes lots of meds & supplements that would be difficult to get in him w/o putting it over food (fish oil, various pills,pumpkin etc..) could replacing one meal a day work?? I normally feed twice a day & could put all meds in one feeding but just do half the kibble separate during training??

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    It is worth a try!

    [Reply]

  27. Pat says:

    Think twice about getting a puppy unless you are totally committed to taking the vast time it takes to train it. In order to insure no accidents w my 11 wk old morkie ( neither onsite parent was housebroken). No stinky pee pads. Never unattended out of kennel. Kennel to pee spot. Praise. About every 20 min always saying same thing POTTY OUTSIDE. Works. But work😍😍

    [Reply]

  28. Karen Stone says:

    I have successfully resolved the sofa issue with two different foster dogs. Just give a firm but not angry correction, then spread a long sheet of aluminum foil on the furniture in question. Move it aside when you want to sit, fold and put away for company, but leave it there until the behavior is extinguished. Worked in one week for one dog, one day for my current foster.

    [Reply]

  29. Pam herd says:

    My 2 lab girls are 7 and 8
    They are great family dogs.
    They are good with grandkids
    We have a very large fenced in
    Back yard. When the gate is left open they take off and Won’t come when called. We live in a rural area and they will run for hours and then come back. How do I get them to come!!!

    [Reply]

  30. Debra says:

    I set my alarm clock and started taking cocoa out very 1 hour on leash. Then 2, then 3 . Would do it every day & night for a week at each time. We are up to 5hrs then out side. We do not come in until she pets or poops. I started by spraying the area I wanted her to use with pet here, a sent that interests a dog to pet an poop. Every time she did per or poop. I click, treated and PRAISED her. Played tug. It’s work but you have to do it. I can say chichi and she pets. I say poo poo and she does. If my 12 week labradoodle can be trained to go on camand so can your dog. But you have to get up and take him out on a leash. No if Ann’s or buts about it.

    [Reply]

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