Training without food?
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Thread: Training without food?

  1. #1
    brc023 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012

    DefaultTraining without food?

    Just a question about rewarding during training. Has anyone tried training without using food as a reward? Has it worked well? I know each dog is different and won't really know what works for our pup until we get her...but I was wondering how effective it would be to train without using treats as rewards. Any tips would be appreciated.

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  3. #2
    Tanya is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    the essence of a reward is it has to be something the dog really wants. it can be treats, a game, a toy, tugging, praise (vocal or touch), etc. It can be any combination of those. the value of each will depend on the individual dog.

    also, using treats for training is not supposed to be giving a dog a treat for every single thing and having a treat in your hand. you use them when necessary and sparingly. the dog should know he is working for something but it should not be used as a lure (though for a new command you may lure once, maybe twice but then you stop). treats should be out of sight when you work. in a pocked, in a pouch, hidden on a cupboard/shelf.
    Charlie (foster) and Rocky

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012


    I tried training without treats, just lots of praise... later finding it easier to use treats as described above by Tanya.

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  6. #4
    deidra's Avatar
    deidra is offline Senior Member
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    Jan 2011


    I use sticks,and balls mainly with Bentley. Occasionaly a few treats, but he would rather have his toy. Tank I started using treats and now just give them here and there. He likes getting petted and a good boy better anyway!
    ~It doesn't matter how smart the dog is,it matters how smart the owner is.

  7. #5
    cassandra.m's Avatar
    cassandra.m is offline Junior Member
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    Apr 2013


    We havent used treats once. We do praise and affection instead and it's going really well. shes 13 weeks today and is potty trained, crate trained, knows sit, come, no, release, down (off the couch) and retrieves like crazy. Labs are people pleasers! They are happy making their owner happy! If we get really excited and happy for her she feeds off our energy and is happy with herself too!


  8. #6
    BellsandBeans is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Missoula MT


    My girl isn't really intrested in treats for training. She much more prefers a heavy praise and a good belly rub.

  9. #7
    Deena is offline Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    West Australia


    Marley and I are currently doing some dog obedience class's and they insist you have treats. They also tell you about withdrawing the treats gradually so they follow commands without the treats. I rarely use treats at home. I was rather sceptical about training with treats as previously have just used praise. I have to say though Marley learns his commands quickly. Why wouldn't he, being a lab and he is very food motivated of course.

    The course is very interesting watching all the dogs. Marley grasps commands almost immediately, there is a Rottweiler in the class and he to picks up the commands quickly. All of the little dogs take quite awhile "to get it". Just love the intelligence and willing to please that labs have. Marley may be a new member of my family, but I just want to shout out from the trees how much I love my boy. Another absolute lab lover.

  10. #8
    Dog Paddle is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012


    LOL, I have to laugh the belly rub dog above. There was a Siberian Husky in our class to whom food treats meant nothing. But he would work for a belly rub. It was our first class, very basic stuff like learning a SIT and nice leash walking. Man oh man, was it slow training for the Husky's owner. Walk a few paces, reward for good heel position as you go along. While the rest of us popped a treat in our dog's mouth as we walked that poor woman had to stop, have her dog lie down and then he got his belly rub. It was painful to see. Our trainer gave her special lessons on getting him to accept the belly rub while he was standing up. I'm telling you, that owner sure wished she could use food treats.

    No, I lie. There was another dog who didn't respond to food treats. The Lab x Border Collie would only work for a chomp on his tug toy. That wasn't so bad, at least his owner could keep moving as she trained a heel.

    You use the reward that works best for your dog. I find different rewards are better for different things. A food treat is OK for a lot of our Rally training and beginning basics but didn't cut it when I was working on retrieving. For that I found a throw of the ball was the higher value reward needed.

  11. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2012


    Rewards change over time as well. I found with Takoda treats when he was really young 3-4.5 months worked well. When we started adding in distractions and working outside as he got older, the last month and a half, the treats were not as motivating anymore. I have started transferring value to toys and this keeps him motivated. I still throw in a treat from time to time to keep him guessing and sometimes I use a lot of affection(he loves his hindquarters rubbed). By varying the reward it keeps him motivated and working.
    Deep Run Traveling "Takoda" (12/05/12)

    Deep Run Easygoing Ezekial "Zeke" (04/13/17)

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