Rewarding your dog with food – a good thing to do or not a good thing to do?

Your dog rewarded with food, cookies, or candies, the hairs on the neck of many dog ​​trainers stand on end.

“That’s bribing, your dog just has to do it because you’re the pack leader, he just has to listen”

“It is still possible with a puppy, but you really have to reduce it with food as soon as possible. Otherwise, your dog will stop listening without you waving a steak in front of him”

So, what about rewarding with treats? Is that really a bribe, indispensable, or is the truth somewhere in the middle?

Rewarding your dog with food, what should you pay attention to?

  • Can I use food to reward my dog ​​during training?
  • Is it bad to train with food?
  • Training with food, is that effective?
  • Indeed, my dog ​​won’t listen if I don’t have food in my hand to reward him.
  • How does food training affect my relationship with my dog?
  • When should I stop rewarding?
  • Doesn’t my dog ​​get really fat if I reward him with food?
  • Doesn’t my dog ​​constantly shoot?
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The boss-dog relationship

You feed your dog, and that part makes you ‘the boss’ over him. You provide him with his basic necessities.
As a reward, you often give things that are just a bit tastier than the normal daily fare. That your relationship with your dog would become less good as a result, is actually exactly the same as saying that your relationship with your partner will deteriorate if you get a bunch of flowers or delicious chocolate.

Also Read: Do dogs have emotions? And what emotions are those?

So there is absolutely no need to worry about your relationship with your dog if you use food to reward your dog.

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When I ask if a particular dog has been to a course, the answer is usually a resounding and proud ‘Yes!’ reply. When I ask which reward he liked best, I get a bit of a surprised look. The dog had had ‘real’ training and not with food. “Just your vote as a reward.
Because yes… otherwise your dog will only do it for the food and not for you. And that cannot be the intention!”

But yes, that he is now ranting against all other dogs on the street, cannot be the intention either. And the tugs on the line that should help, don’t help. No, it just gets worse!

So, which is worse, than your dog lunges or reward with food during training? In this case, I would really start rewarding my dog ​​with food.

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Training with other animal species

Why do we have such an aversion to using food when training our dogs? With other animal species (dolphins, sea lions, tigers, crocodiles, birds, rabbits, etc.) rewarding with food is never an issue. It makes perfect sense for a dolphin to get a fish for a well-executed exercise. A tiger who cooperates in a blood draw is given a hunk of meat. It is precisely the use of feed that often makes training very effective. Even in humans, eating is a strong motivation because if you don’t eat, it will stop.

But with dogs, should your dog do it out of gratitude, a sense of duty, or because he loves his owner so much? Very understandable emotions for humans that can be a motivation to do a certain thing, but for a dog that is really incomprehensible…

Even us humans get a salary because we work for a boss and most people would stop working if they only got a speech at the end of the month with compliments and no money in their bank account.

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Why is your dog doing something for you?

As much as we want to believe in pride, supernatural fidelity, and love from our dog, ultimately a dog does something because it pays him off.

Food is a basic necessity of life. Hearing your voice is not a necessity at all. If you keep your mouth shut for a month, your dog will not change. If you give him nothing to eat for a month… well, just think what happens.
Your voice is usually available to your dog all day anyway, even when you’re talking on the phone or to your kids.

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Always have feed available

For some dogs, their bowl of food is available 24/7. That’s not such a good idea.

Firstly, because the digestive system of a normal dog can get very upset.
Secondly, because a full bowl of food continuously can be compared to when you receive a payment of 1000 Euros into your account every day. Nice and easy. 30,000 Euros per month. Wow, that makes you happy! And you don’t have to do anything for it!

Are you still going to work hard for 10 Euro an hour…? Correct. Then you only do what you feel like, when you feel like it.
So if you want to reward your dog with food, you have to get rid of that continuously filled food bowl.

candies for the dog

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Use food to your (and your dog’s) advantage

So it is better to use food to your advantage, your dog has to eat anyway. Turn his allowance into a salary.
Pay his salary while training and raising and leave his food bowl in the closet. In other words; Reward your dog with the amount of food he would normally get for free.

Buy a treat bag and fill it with the daily amount of food for your dog. For example, feed it while walking when your dog comes to you when you encounter something exciting when your dog is paying attention to you.
Feed him for fun exercises, feed him as a game with you: catching, searching, marbles with treats.

So you don’t have to worry about giving too much or rewarding too much; what you give him, you would have given him otherwise, just for nothing. Now you both benefit.

If you have an off-day and you have only walked a few small circles, so that you still have a lot of food left at the end of the day, you still give the food to your dog. Oh yes, those worries about a dog that is too fat… Your dog gets fat more easily from having constant food available than rewarding your dog with food.

Won’t my dog ​​shoot?

Surprise! If you use food as a reward, so as a salary, your dog will not kick. On the contrary, he has learned that certain desirable behavior gives him food.

So you can very easily teach him that if you start eating yourself, your dog will go to his own place, stay there and be rewarded with – right! – feed.
Dogs shed because they like to eat and because they often (or sometimes) pay for something. Sometimes food, sometimes attention, sometimes nothing. An ideal gambling game. The point is that rewarding with feed does not contribute to shoveling.

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Benefits of rewarding with food

  • When retraining problem behavior, food has the advantage that you can do many repetitions in a short time, in quick succession. For example, you can give a piece of meatball to your dog 20 times a minute. Throwing a ball 20 times a minute, for example, is practically not feasible.
  • Food is a basic necessity of life, every dog ​​needs food.
  • Food causes the production of dopamine, which makes your dog feel good.
  • When your dog stops taking food, it’s a sign that your dog is either full or experiencing too much stress.
    Immediately an easy ‘measuring point’!
  • With food you can vary endlessly in flavors and ways of giving.
  • In practice, food is easy to carry.

So forget all the negative comments about rewarding with food. Which is more important, the opinion of your know-it-all neighbor or the fact that your dog listens to you carefully and does so with great pleasure?

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Rewards tapering

Just as you need to know the difference between a benefit and a salary, you also need to understand the difference between bait with food and using food as a reward. You should get rid of the lure with food as soon as possible, but not of the reward with food.

Quite simply put, the difference is that when you lure you first bring out a candy. With that you send your dog to where you want him and then you give him the treat. When rewarding, you ask your dog to go where you want him to go and only then do you take out a treat and give the treat to your dog, so as a reward.

So if your dog is used to luring, he has learned to follow the food. The fact that your dog goes on strike if you have no food in your hand is therefore not a sign of a stubborn or stubborn dog. You taught him that the candy in your hand is part of the exercise.

So if you reward your dog for something he does well, without luring him, you don’t have to worry about weaning at all.

Finally; Keep in mind that most owners reward too little, while they think they do enough or even too much.

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