Welcome to the exciting, addictive world of dog agility. And obedience too!
_Definition of Dog Agility:
From The Everything Obedience Class, and of course all
FOOD CRITICS Adapted from Dr. Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book, by Dr. Ian Dunbar
Nearly every trained animal you see in films and on television has been taught using food lures and rewards. Killer whales are trained using fish. Grizzly bears are trained using marshmallows and soda pop. Obviously, trainers dealing with such large, potentially dangerous animals do not want killer whales and grizzly bears forming negative associations with training, or with the trainer! Let's not discriminate against the canine species. Isn't it long overdue for our best friends to have equal opportunity with the rest of the trained-animal kingdom?
Any criticism of using food as a training tool may actually be applied to the use of any training tool, including leash-corrections and praise.
Excessive praise, or correction, may over-excite your dog. Your dog may not respond when off-leash, or when you do not have praise in your heart. Your dog is hardly going to respect someone who regularly needs to resort to physical force and painful punishments. And, what if your dog doesn't like food, you might say? Well, what if your dog doesn't like leash corrections? Surely, such woolly logic should not stop owners from using food lures and rewards to great effect to teach their dogs to enjoy training. And, if the dog doesn’t like food, then let’s teach him to like food. The process is really not so different from teaching dogs to love children and strangers.
The use of any training tool has its advantages and disadvantages. Do not forgo the magical advantage of using food lures and rewards just because of one or two supposed disadvantages. Learn to use food in training correctly and overcome the minor disadvantages so that you may take full advantage of many beneficial effects of food lures and rewards.
Food is the very best lure for most dogs and for most owners. However, once you have become adept at food luring and reward training, you will be able to use chewtoys, squeaky toys, and snapping fingers to lure or reward your dog. Pieces of kibble and the occasional freeze-dried liver treat are the most convenient and easy-to-use rewards for initial training but you need to change to more meaningful "life rewards" as soon as possible. Of course, if you have a warm heart, an expressive voice, and affectionate hands, praise and petting will be more than a sufficient thank-you for your puppy.
"Use food in training? That's sissy training"
Maybe so, but it works! And I'll tell you what, if carrying a wand and wearing a pink tutu would help train dogs and save their lives, I'd do that, too. In addition to their obvious applications in all aspects of teaching manners, food lures and food rewards may be more importantly used for behavior modification and temperament training. In fact, food lures and rewards are so effective, their use should be mandatory.
Continued on the About Us Page.