Like all good animal trainers, we use food in training. We call this a Primary Reinforcer. This is something that the animal naturally desires or works for. This could be food, water, sex, social interaction, shelter, etc… 

(So you can’t tell me your dog isn’t food-motivated – that’s a human-created problem!)

When we train a dog using marker-based training, the mark (“yes!!” or the click) becomes a Secondary Reinforcer – something the dog has learned to desire. Other Secondary Reinforcers can be praise, petting, tug, fetch, etc.., Notice I said “can be” – these have to be learned and even sometimes paired with a Primary Reinforcer.

Dogs do not naturally work for praise; they are NOT “eager to please”. This is a myth! 

Food is the easiest thing to use in training as you can use many, many small pieces of food to get many, many reps of the behaviour before the dog is saturated (full). 

Let’s talk about the kinds of food we use in training. We have to use what the dog finds motivating – not what we want them to find motivating.