Q: What type of treats do you use in the training process? Our puppy has a hard time with chewing quickly however, it looks like the pups and dogs on your DVD have an easy time with those happy nibblets they get for doing a great job! Also, my dog takes food from his bowl into the living room, eats it, and then goes back for more and repeats the process. What’s going on?
A: We use chicken, turkey, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, high quality dry treats like “Liver Biscotti,” carrots, apples and anything else our dogs really like. You can even use your dog’s kibble as a treat if it’s high quality and something your dog really loves but we find soft treats are usually the best for training because the dog takes less time to chew than harder treats. All that being said, some dogs are like goats and pay no attention to any food hierarchy. They’ll eat anything!
If your dog isn’t used to getting a certain food, acclimate his digestive system by adding a few bits of the new food to his meals for several days before using a lot in the training process. And if you’re training with treats during the day, remember to cut back on the amount you feed for regular meals or you’ll find your dog growing to be a little porker!
You want to stay away from most commercial training treats as they contain corn, wheat, sugar, by-products, artificial colors and preservatives which aren’t very healthy for your dog. Also, stay away from greasy foods, grapes, raisins and chocolate. And some dogs have allergies or intolerances to certain foods so monitor for reactions which might include loose stools, excessive scratching, skin inflammation, lethargy or hyperactivity, watery eyes, excessive drinking and so on. I have a dog in class right now who can’t eat chicken. After a lot of experimentation, we found he has no problem with venison. So certain protein sources work for some dogs and not others.
As for why dogs take food from one spot and eat it elsewhere, there are a couple of theories.
One is possibly a primal predisposition in that dogs and wolves “in the wild” often have to fight for food. So by taking it elsewhere, a dog can eat in peace.
But here’s an interesting thing that trainers notice but isn’t a well-known fact to the general public. Did you ever notice that a dog might eat a small piece of meat thrown on the floor but not a large piece? Well, if an animal in the wild has to spend a lot of time chewing something, it means they are spending more time in one spot, hence, making them more vulnerable to being attacked, especially if they’re in open areas. So a sensitive family dog, especially one dealing with motion sensitivity, might inhibit and not take a large chunk of food during training sessions but will take smaller pieces. I guess size does matter.