Food can be a powerful and motivating force when training a dog. The thoughtful use of food, as a reward not a bribe, can be used to quickly and precisely communicate to our dogs, what behaviors we find desirable.
Of the clients I work with, those whose dogs have the most problematic behaviors tend to be free-fed. Free-fed, meaning they have access to unlimited or nearly unlimited food all day. In addition, these owners, who dearly love their dogs, give nightly treats and other tidbits for usually nothing other than being a darn cute dog. The motivation behind this is understandable. For the busy and hardworking owner, free-feeding is a convenient way to provide for their dog's nutritional needs. The last thing a dog owner wants is their dog to go hungry and free-feeding is a certain way to make sure that doesn't happen. But free-feeding has a cost, and I mean more than just the rising price of kibble.
The cost of free-feeding is that your dog has neither consequence or motivation to work with you. Often a dog who is free-fed has very little motivation to do what is asked of him. Everything he gets in life is always provided through no action on his part. He is likely to easily be distracted and pay little attention to his owner, despite their increasingly frustrated attempts to get them to acknowledge the owners pleas. If you are free feeding your dog you're missing out on a great opportunity to communicate to your dog that your relationship is a partnership where you work together to satisfy his needs.
Being the clear provider of your dog's food at a definite period of time gives you a daily event where manners, obedience, and partnership can be rehearsed and richly rewarded. Something as simple as a down stay while you prepare their meal and followed by a "wait" until released after you place the bowl on the floor, can go far in communicating to your dog that his desirable behavior produces good results and that working with you rather than against you is the quickest way to satisfaction. If you feed your dog twice a day then you are setting up, at a minimum, 730 mini training sessions a year! Imagine what could be accomplished with 730 lessons.
To learn how to get your dogs attention and effectively move away from free-feeding and put those 730 yearly lessons to use Contact Us Today! Manners and More Tucson Dog Training 207-619-0497