The use of food in training

There are many ways to use food in training and it’s important to understand its role before embarking on a training plan. This is where people are often confused and trainers facepalm themselves, trying desperately to make sense of it all. It can be very confusing AND misleading, so stick with me. 

AssociationWe can use food to create fabulous associations with people, dogs, places, things, sounds, textures, etc…anything at all! In this course, we will use food to create an awesome association with the crate. In the beginning, if every time they interact with the crate, food happens, you will start to see that your dog relaxes and even happily anticipates the food when they are near or in the crate!  

Remember that when building an association, the food is NOT contingent on a behaviour; the food happens regardless of what the dog is doing (whining, sitting, half-in, etc…) 

RewardWe can use food to reward a dog for a job well done – this is their paycheque. We may reward excellent behaviour in the crate, such as sitting or lying down, however, this will not be the main use of food in this course. It is more important to create a great association with the crate as that too will create good behaviour as a side-effect.  

When using rewards, the food IS contingent on a behaviour; the food happens only if they have performed the behaviour you requested.  

DistractionWe can use food to distract a dog if needed, however, this is not considered training; it does not change behaviour and it does not last long at all. We will not be using food as a distraction in this course. In fact, we strongly suggest against it when working on crate or confinement training as it can backfire (as soon as the food is gone, they may feel anxiety). Instead, let’s focus on creating a great association!