Treats in training?

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Postby tiva » April 4th, 2010, 12:53 pm

I have a confession: I've never understood why someone would object to using treats in training. My dogs each get a certain amount of food each day. I can just stick that food in a bowl and put it on the ground, after perhaps asking for one little sit/stay. If I ask for a sit then feed the dog, he has gotten one bit of reinforcement information from that food. Or I can use each piece of kibble as a reward to reinforce a behavior that I want. Then the day's food becomes 200 bits of information, and that exchange of information helps to build our relationship, while also the frequency of reinforced behaviors. I just don't understand why anyone would want to get so little learning information conveyed by the day's food. (Ok, I'm a nerd, but I really don't get it.)
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Postby maberi » April 4th, 2010, 2:30 pm

I applaud you for being so committed. I admit, I'm lazy most days during "feeding time"...
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » April 4th, 2010, 4:49 pm

I'm generally lazy during feeding times (Inara has to sit in heel position, wait while I put her food down, and then make eye contact in heel position again before getting released) but sometimes I get all gun-ho and totally make her earn every piece of kibble. Even if I'm being lazy I still have treats scattered throughout the house so I can give her random stuff to keep her on her toes. It's just too easy!
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Postby tiva » April 4th, 2010, 7:20 pm

Heavens, I don't expect anyone else to feed every bit of food in return for doing something right. But I don't see why some people think using food to reward desired behaviors is somehow "cheating". I feel like I'm cheating when I give a handful at a time, rather than piece by piece. Ok, Vanya is more challenging than some other dogs I've known, but it's also a lot more fun to feed during training. The Manners Minder helps too!
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Postby amazincc » April 4th, 2010, 8:17 pm

Well... I am not lazy, per say, but there are some basic needs that I will fullfill without making my dogs "work" for them - water, food, pottying.
I do expect good manners (like sitting before I open the door or put down a bowl of food), but I don't believe in making a dog "earn" every last bit of kibble. I myself would hate to have to earn my sandwich - bite by bite - throughout the day, instead of sitting down and eating a whole meal in peace.
I do use treats and/or toys as rewards in training but I also use tons of praise... it works well for us.
I am a great believer in NILIF although I don't agree with some of the methods suggested on some of the web sites... having the dogs pay attention to my every move 24/7 and expecting them to hop up and move out of my way if they happen to be sprawled out and sleeping in the middle of the floor, for example. I don't mind walking around them, or stepping over them... :|
Some things in life should be free... a basic meal and a nap being just two of them.
A treat is just that... a reward for doing something right.
I guess I look at dog training kind of like the same as raising kids... I would not withhold food as a punishment or dole it out as a reward. Dessert (treats), maybe... but not lunch. :wink:
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Postby TheRedQueen » April 4th, 2010, 11:17 pm

I'm a very, very treat oriented trainer...but I'm just not on board with the "earning their dinner" training. I have six dogs that eat three different kibbles (one is on grain free)...so trying to use their kibble gets messy (I hate the greasy kibble feel) and complicated. I do stock up the bathroom treat container with Fig's Evo as treats as he eats anything, and the others think it's delicious.

I love different types of treats, and I'm always baking, cooking or making new types of treats for training...as I'm easily bored with food, I try to keep it interesting for my dogs. And since they're usually all under or at a good weight, they can always use more food. lol Liz and Michelle can tell you about the giant bag of treats I brought last year for the pin-up calendar shoot...and that was JUST for Score. ;)

I do use praise, but since I talk a LOT to my dogs, I don't use it as a primary reinforcer...because it'd be hard for them to get past the constant stream of chatter I aim at them all day. lol
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Postby airwalk » April 4th, 2010, 11:20 pm

Christine I'm with you. I actually try to wean my dogs off treats because, in Scooter's case, he works with me and there are too many times when I don't have treats or we are in a position where treats are not appropriate. I want him to do the things I ask for praise not treats. I do use treats as reinforcement for old behaviors and use them to set new behaviors...but dinner time is dinner time and I let them eat.

I too step over sleeping dogs. Mind you I don't walk around and I don't ever walk around a dog standing in my way...they move.
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Postby hugapitbull » April 5th, 2010, 1:29 pm

airwalk wrote:Christine I'm with you. I actually try to wean my dogs off treats because, in Scooter's case, he works with me and there are too many times when I don't have treats or we are in a position where treats are not appropriate. I want him to do the things I ask for praise not treats. I do use treats as reinforcement for old behaviors and use them to set new behaviors...but dinner time is dinner time and I let them eat.

I too step over sleeping dogs. Mind you I don't walk around and I don't ever walk around a dog standing in my way...they move.


I'm with Christine & Diana. Duke has to sit and wait to be released before getting his food, but once released, he's left alone to eat it. He is made to move out of the way when necessary - move from where I'm walking, move from where I want on the bed, etc. I think the dog makes a difference also, Trouble is not required to do most things because of her age and handicap. It is easier for me to move around her than to make her comply. We do still make her move to her spot on the bed when it's time to retire for the evening. Both dogs know Trouble goes out the door first. Duke sits and waits while Trouble goes first.
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Postby mnp13 » April 5th, 2010, 8:07 pm

We feed raw - I put it in the dish and they eat, the only "earning" that goes on at meal time is waiting (somewhat) politely for me to put the dish down.

All of my training is done with treats to start with, and then I slowly phase them out - but occasionally throw in a "jackpot" for a simple sit just to keep things interesting. I don't think it's bribery, I think it's working for a paycheck. :)
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