News / February 6, 2024

The Power of Food in Dog Training – Our 7 Top Tips! 

Our top tips for dog training with food… 

Food can be a powerful tool when it comes to dog training, but only if done correctly.

Top tip! Giving dogs treats is more about how good it makes the human feel rather than providing actual benefit to the dog. Buying your dog’s affection using treats is a perfectly normal thing to do, but in the early stages of a relationship, it’s important to maintain some self-discipline and to be frugal with treats. This is so the puppy or dog has a healthy appetite at meal times. 

Top tip! Use food to lure your dog into positions you want, rather than bribing them when dog training. These small differences in practice can have a massive effect on your dog’s mentality. By following the food, the dog can learn the exact behaviour that releases the food, which in return helps them learn how to maintain it. 

Top tip! Whichever food you are using as a reward, vary the amount of food in your hand. When dog training, using one bit of kibble can quickly become boring and limits how many times you can repeat the training with your dog before reloading. Use handfuls of food as this creates a large ‘target’ or scent pattern which your dog can follow. This means we can continue the training exercise and gradually release food at key moments. As well as this, we recommend you don’t always release the same amount of food. Varying how much your dog gets keeps them interested for longer and trying to figure out how they can earn more. 

Top tip! It’s best to do lots of short sessions rather than a few longer ones and you don’t have to use all the dog’s ‘meal’ in one go. In the morning you can pour their food into a bowl and put it to one side. You can then use this food to train your dog throughout the morning until it’s gone. This will keep your dog focused on you, increase their desire to interact or listen to you, and create a relationship where your dog is working for you and training in a way that works. 

Top tip! If you drop food on the floor, make sure you do not let your dog clean it up. Be quick to pick it up and re-use it in the training session. Dogs are smart and will quickly learn to search the floor for food after completing a certain action for us owners. This can easily lead to the dog’s focus being directed to the floor rather than us. When food in your hand is gone, we want the dog looking up at us to see what is coming next, rather than searching the floor for more food. 

Top tip! For slow eaters or dogs with sensitive mouths, soak the Kibble in hot water for around 30 minutes before you start the training session. These dogs will be able to eat this much quicker, making the training session easier for both of you. This also helps in maintaining a high frequency of reps, which is better for muscle memory and your dog’s behaviour patterns in the long run. 

Top tip! If you don’t have time to use all your dog’s food in training, but want to maintain a regime, try doing a couple of reps and then providing a jackpot reward with the bowl of food. This ensures you are continuing a routine as well as improving your dog’s muscle memory. 

For more advice on how to utilise food when training your dog, watch our YouTube video on The Power of Food to learn more. 

For more information on our residential dog training services please contact us at info@platinumk9.com or call us on 0115 646 0905.