Our dogs look and act confident. Food reward training in general, even when done less than perfectly, promotes confidence in a dog. To me a confident dog has ears forward, and a relaxed “smile” or pant. He doesn’t cower or ignore his environment. The dog enjoys training sessions, and learns by associating rewards with different things in the environment. A confident, properly trained, food reward trained dog does not go nuts in the presence of food because that behaviour does not elicit a reward. There are so many myths out there as to what a confident dog is that it perpetuates the idea that food reward training is bad because it makes dogs needy.
I USED TO USE IT:
When I used correction based training in the past, my dogs learned to fear certain things and were worried about interacting with the environment, because the training was incorrect and incomplete. They often yawned, licked their lips, lifted one paw, or turned their heads away from me during training.
I WAS NO GOOD AT IT:
I SUCKED at correction based training. No one taught me the proper techniques behind it (even though I went to training classes) and why it worked or did not work. Therefore, my dogs learned little and were certainly not what I would call confident, as they (and I) had no idea what was going on. The training was inconsistent.
The behaviours of yawning, paw lifting, lip licking and turning away, (called calming signals) as stated above can be successfully eliminated by using food reward training. We have dones this numerous times here with our own and clients dogs. See our video on creating a confident dog on the grooming table:
Often it is a good idea to learn the science behind dog training by reading books, watching videos, and taking appropriate classes, before claiming that food reward trained dogs are not confident. Having been a correction based trainer, I have experience with both ends of the training spectrum and I know what is true. Food reward training creates confident dogs.