Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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Go to any pet store and you’ll be greeted with so many dog training treats, all stating they are the best or healthiest. When it comes to dog shows, liver is always popular but you really need to bake it to make it easy to handle. Dog show people also use baked chicken, steak, french fries, cheese, and other tasty things as bait. Of course, there are lots and lots of treats and snacks made by the same dog food companies that make commercial dog foods. Today we are going to talk about how using food rewards can effect motivation while training your dog. When food and treats are used properly, they will become a powerful tool for motivating your dog during training or occupying your dog's time when you are gone and he is alone. I started taking dog training seriously -- back in the dark ages of the 1960's - when people like William Koehler and Winifred Strickland were considered experts in the field. Well dog training is light years ahead of where it was back then and this question has been answer. We have since learned that when it's done properly, motivating a dog with food creates a dog that enjoys training, wants to take part in the learning process, and becomes a problem solver.
When a handler embraces the fact that he will use food in his training, he must then learn how to do this correctly. Marker work opened our eyes to the fact that different dog treats can produce different results in our training.
So just as importantly as learning how and when to use food in your dog training is the question of what kind of food or treats to use. But in the past 25 years we have seen a huge improvement in the number and quality of dog treats that are available. Feeding dogs an all-natural diet has become popular because people like myself recognized the fact that most commercial dog food are crap.
In fact, over the last 6 or 7 years, the popularity of feeding an all-natural diet has fueled the explosion of all-natural dog treats.
Fifteen years ago the multi-colored grocery store dog biscuits that are still sold in Wal-Mart, K-Mart or the pet food warehouses were pretty much the only option people had if they wanted a dry food treat. These high value treats cannot be used as a motivator on complex tasks that requires a dog to think a lot. The dogs that are real food hounds quickly learn out how to quickly unload a treat toys filled with small treats.
The Liver Biscotti and Plato treats are good choices for dogs that learn to quickly empty a treat toy. The Soft Training Treats and the Zuke's Mini Naturals treats are smaller and excellent for dogs that don't have the super high food drive. So learning to use the various treat toys in different applications can accomplish the same thing.
So the application of how you carry the treats and how long you intend to have them in your pocket or a bait bag needs to be a consideration. The first time you use a new treat dogs will play around with it before they actually eat it. If you made the mistake of trying to use a new treat as a reward too soon during training you could find yourself standing around getting frustrated while you waited for the dog to eat it. Some dog seem to be absolutely food crazy chow hounds while others don’t seem to have much of an interest in food. Some low food drive dogs are simply too fat – not an uncommon problem with dog owners who love their dogs. Some lazy dogs will pick up on the fact that right after training they always get their nice big bowl of food. It seems that this phenomenon goes away if there is more than an hour break between training and feeding.
During this initial work if he zoned out and did not pay attention I simply took him by the collar, without saying a word, put him in his dog crate and walked away for 3 or 4 minutes.
If your dog blows you off during your training another approach is to simply stop, take the dog by his collar and put him in his dog crate. A caveat here is that you should get in the habit of feeding these dogs inside their dog crates.
You will probably find that cooked meat or raw meat cut into small chunks are your dogs favorite food treats.

So, even though the treats you purchase may be a good size when they come out of the bag you should break them up into smaller pieces. If you are familiar with marker training you know that placement of the food reward is an important part of the learning process. When trainers have a lower drive dog, simply making the dog move to get a reward will often increase motivation. Rather I want to pass on an interesting concept that is seen on studies with training rats.
Some dogs are born with a great deal of prey drive and some dogs have very little prey drive.
In our video podcast of this work we demonstrate with a young puppy how quick movement with food in the hand triggers the dogs prey drive. Putting wad of high value food treats in a sock and teaching the dog to play tug with the food sock also goes a long way towards teaching low prey drive dogs that have food drive to play tug. Now these methods will not work for people who were to do one of the biting sports where a dog must have serious prey drive but this will work for people who want to compete in agility or obedience and use a prey tug game as a reward. We are in the process of setting up box combinations of treats where you can save a little money by buying a BOX SET of treats. For questions related to training, you can check our extensive Q&A section or contact Cindy if your question has not been asked. When we were going to clicker training classes the dogs loved tiny hotdog bits either uncooked or nuked in the microwave. Unbuttered popcorn is low in calories so it makes a good treat for dogs that are watching their weight. One that I like is Old Mother Hubbard’s classic oven-baked dog biscuits in the small size. I looked at some treats on sale today that sounded good but passed on them when I read the ingredients. I mostly reach for things in my own refrigerator or cabinet or buy dog treats I trust but I confess that sometimes I do buy some doggy junk food for treats, too.
These treats are not only motivating and delicious, but they are also healthy for your dog! I will be doing a video podcast of this work and streaming it on the all-natural treat page on my web site and on iTunes. New trainers would think that a difficult task would require the best treat available -- not so. In that circumstance I don't mind if the treat is crunchy and take a couple of seconds to eat (like our liver biscotti). If you have to leave your dog in a crate while your at work during the day and you feed an all-natural diet (like you should if you love your dog) why not take these everlasting toys we sell and fill them with the dogs daily ration of hamburger and freeze them over night. But with this said, just because a product is labeled a dog treat does not mean that your dog agrees with the labeling.
While we are very particular in what we allow our dogs to eat for their main diet--we are not as critical in our dog treats. So people who train with food should change their feeding schedule so they feed the dog after training and not before. Once the dog has learned that food rewards are a part of training you can then change to various all-natural treats that fit your training needs. So randomly increasing and decreasing the feeding times works as long as it’s an hour after training. Then for 4 or 5 days the only food he got was hamburger from my hand during marker training.
Teaching a dog that he only plays with toys when you give them to him and after your play you always take them away builds drive or motivation for toys, which results in toys being able to be used as motivators in training.
Then go get another dog (we are very lucky because we have an unlimited supply of food hounds) and let the second dog eat the first dogs’ daily bowl of food right in front of the crate. Using them in training is great, but you may also get to the point where having to cut up meat every day is more than you care to do.
We will put pieces of cut up meat, pieces of string cheese and several kinds of all-natural treats in a plastic tub our fridge.
The variety of this random selection builds interest in our dogs because they never know what the next treat reward is going to be. Your dog would get more pleasure out of cutting the same hunk of steak into 30 pieces than if he ate the entire piece in one swallow.

As I break mine up I always wonder how many people don’t do that and simply waste 90% of the value of these treats by feeding the entire chuck.
This is where they will occasionally reward the dog with a number of treats all at one time (hence the name jack potting). By this I mean if you are training the dog to a hand touch – the reward is always placed on the hand that your dog touched with his nose. This will not apply to pet owners but rather to people who intend to compete in various dog sports. Some dogs can have prey drive but as soon as they think there is food around the prey drive goes away.
This can only be determined by constantly watching your dog and thinking of his response to what you’re asking him to do. While different dogs will be motivated by different types of food, there are some types of training treats that are almost universally effective with all dogs.
For some reason I usually buy Cheddar for the dogs and cut it up in small cubes but any kind of cheese would work.
You also have to take into consideration that you might have to stick it in your mouth at some point while you’re juggling your lead, a comb, and other dog paraphernalia, so it needs to be halfway edible for humans. Non-freeze dried liver treats are also commercially produced, but most of them are high in sodium and aren’t as healthy as homemade or freeze dried liver treats. There are even people who use pieces of dry cat food as training treats, knowing how much some dogs love to eat cat food.
You can learn to make informed decisions when you look at treats and snacks just as you do when you buy your dog’s food (check out our article on how to choose dog food).
What is nice about the video podcast is you can actually see us working with dogs to explain the various concepts.
A difficult task requires the dog to focus on what he is doing and not focus on your food reward. We will put some larger treats like the Plato or Zuke's Mini Naturals treats along with some of the smaller treats like the Soft Training Treats to form a trail mix of treats in the toys. Many times once the dog eats a few treats he decides their pretty darn good after all and he downs them quicker. Changing the food rewards keeps your dogs interest and they become motivated to get a new and different tasty treat. We will occasionally allow them a bit of doggy junk food in the treats because it's not like it's a huge part of their diet. I call the dogs inside and stand in the floor slicing up two or three carrots for them into small bite size pieces. They’re a little expensive to use for training treats but you could use them if you wanted.
Many of the ingredients are the same though treats and snacks tend to have more carbs in them, especially if you buy biscuits.
I thought cutting up hot dogs was all that was needed for obedience training or teaching my dog to track.
The smaller treats will dribble out and reward the dog for trying while the larger treats stay inside and peak the dog's interest.
Our goal here is more to teach the dog to appreciate the value of food treats than to train a complicated task.
The purpose of training treats is both to reward your dog and to give him some motivation to work so if he really loves cat food, I can understand why some people might use it. Some of them have a lot of junk ingredients so you have to decide if you’re willing to let your dog have some doggy junk food as a treat. So we only ask the dog to do very simple things that he already knows – like a hand touch or a sit or down. Even some of the best known dog treats and snacks are the equivalent of doggy junk food but, well, sometimes it’s hard to resist spoiling our dogs a little. It is kind of soft and messy so if you put it in a training pouch it’s going to get yucky. It’s smelly and has a strong flavor and taste but your dogs will really pay attention when you use it.

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