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Motivation Matters

We use food in puppy training simply because it is very motivating! In order to teach your puppy how to do som

ething we first must have their attention and food is a quick, sure way to get it.

Next I ask, how does your puppy get their food each day? I suggest tossing the food bowl for now. Each morning measure out your puppy’s daily food amount and put it in a ziploc bag. These are your “treats” or rewards for the day. Begin by going through cues your puppy already knows, giving them a few pieces of kibble when they do it correctly.

In addition, pay attention to what your puppy does naturally throughout the day. When you catch them lying down relaxing give them some kibble as a reward. This will reinforce the relaxed behavior and encourage them to do it more often. If you see them chewing an appropriate chew toy, again give them a few pieces of kibble. When you call their name and they look your way, yep! Give them some kibble.

Use their food to reinforce the behaviors you want throughout the day. This way, your dog is fulfilled as they now work for their food which is wonderful mental exercise. You’ve not only found a way to practice great manners and behaviors with your pup, you’ve given them a job to do which is something every dog needs. Training is not always what we think - asking our dogs to do something - sometimes it is about rewarding them even when we don’t ask them to do something. We pay for good behavior and that leads to more good behavior.

If you need help learning how to motivate your dog, my team of trainers and I provide one-on-one coaching sessions via video. These are unlimited as part of our Online Puppy School membership. We love what we do and are happy to help you and your dog achieve success.

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Our new puppy came home June 7th Tess a mini Goldendoodle 8 weeks old. Fully understand the treat reward behavior process.

Question: Recommended amt. of food is abt. 2/3 C. So we would use this amt. not in a single dish, but instead for behavior reward treats? Do we need to ensure see eats it all? If not, place the remaining in a dish to make sure she is eating enough?

Question: Let’s say we are feeding her 2x a day using a bowl. What about using other types of soft mini bites for training vs the kibbles?


~ Rick ~

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08 jun 2023
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GREAT QUESTION… and yes we would encourage the training treats to be a combination of regular kibble, as well as other toes of rewards, including those rewards that aren’t food, such as time, touch, toys, attention, etc…

Mixing it up can help keep your puppy engaged better for longer as they aren’t sure what the reward will be and the internal it might come - for example, if all you ever give your dog is the same treat, it’s possible that eventually that treat loses your dogs interest - variety can be the spice of life.

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07 oct 2022

Question - What if the treat is SO tempting that it distracts the pup from doing ANYTHING? Gus is 6 mos old. To date kibble toys and bones have been the motivator and he does great! However, we need to reinforce and work on better recall especially with distractions. The problem is a higher value treat is NOW the distraction. He sits at my feet and stares at my hands like I’m a magician. What suggestions do you have to refocus on the TASK and get the reward at the end?

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I don’t have my puppy yet, and I’m going to be home with him for the first week, but then I have to go back to school. Im concerned as to when to train him and when to feed him based on my schedule.

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We have done that and it works Great! So great that, as an example: when he is done his business outside waiting to come inside he will ONLY come with the sight of his treat And if I don’t happen to have one in my pocket and slowly reach for his collar, he bolts Back. Same with every exercise which we have been doing for a couple of months now.

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That is really useful information - thank you

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