In the past, I have been asked by experienced dog people (former breeders in one specific case) if I am one of those “treat, treat, treat” trainers.
Of course, this started a discussion on training methods.
I am always astonished at people’s beliefs in all the myths about dogs there are and what people are taking as truth without really thinking it through. This occurs even among people who know a lot about dogs and have been involved with them for years.
Why I Use “Treats” (Food Rewards) To Train
My explanation of WHY I use “treats” is this: Besides the fact that corrections hurt or frighten the dog, as a dog training professional, I cannot guarantee that a person I have taught to train her dog using aversive methods is not going to get upset and punish the dog unnecessarily with corrections. I cannot prevent the use of corrections in anger. Since I am a cross-over training instructor and dog trainer, I have used and taught these methods in the past, so I know what corrections are like and what they can do.
I have also seen MANY people training dogs, whose dogs are exhibiting fearful body language towards them as a result of corrections. I personally, do not want my dog to fear me. I don’t like how a dog looks when she is scared of her handler, crouching down with ears back, and I don’t want to do dog sports with a dog who doesn’t really have fun at all times during the activity because of how she was trained.
Thats what corrections do – hurt the dog. That’s how they work. By making the dog uncomfortable.
However, by using and food rewards, I can achieve the EXACT SAME RESULT without bringing corrections into the training. Therefore, I eliminate anger in my training and end up building a great relationship with my dog.
The other logical part of this is that even though you CAN achieve the same results with food rewards as with corrections, many people still don’t think you can do this.
THE REASON FOR THIS IS that people simply do not want to train with food. These people have a pre-conceived idea about what it means to own and train a dog and cannot get past that.
If you don’t want to train with food, then you won’t achieve the results.
If you want to train with food rewards you WILL and can do just as well as someone using correction methods. I can use my own achievement record as an example, which is part of the reason I go into dog sport trials, besides it being fun – to show that it CAN be done – and it CAN.
My dogs and I have shown that one can train for the sports of obedience, rally-o, trick training and canine dog exclusively with correction free training and still win. The point is not just to win obviously, but to show that it can be done. We also train in sledding and stockdog without corrections and have not been in any trials or competitions, but enjoy it a great deal.
I have also had success putting correction free dog sport titles on rescued dogs with behaviour issues. I find that dogs with fear issues are very responsive to food reward training.
The whole thing is simply a matter of desire.
Each person has the right to make a CHOICE in how she/he trains a dog. If you want to train with corrections then do so. But PLEASE STOP SAYING THAT TRAINING WITH FOOD REWARDS DOESN’T WORK BECAUSE YOU ARE WRONG.
If it doesn’t work it is simply your choice to not have it work. Both methods work – IF YOU WANT THEM TO WORK.
DO THE WORK – GET THE RESULTS
People used to say that no one would get to the moon. But it happened nevertheless. The same goes for dog training.