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Training With Food by Vanessa Lee

Why Use Food to Train?

 Dogs need food to survive, therefore, food can be a good motivator for all dogs.

(Dogs on special diets, those with sensitivities, and non-food motivated can work for all or part of their daily meals.)

 Food can be delivered and consumed quickly and effortlessly (many other rewards can take too much time to deliver or may get some dogs too aroused taking time away from the actual training)
 Dogs can be easily lured into various positions using food lures. This allows us to teach without forcing them into position, which can be threatening to some dogs.
 Food can be easily phased out by combining and replacing it with non-food rewards.

 Food tends to promote a positive state of mind, making training sessions enjoyable and exciting for the dog


Ideas for food rewards

(Food rewards should be pea-sized and easy for the dog to consume quickly and effortlessly)

Dry dog/cat food

Canned dog/cat food

Store bought treats such as Zukes Mini Naturals

Frozen bil-jac dog food

Dry cereal such as cherrios, peanut butter captain crunch, kix

Peanut butter

Squeeze (can) cheese/cream cheese

Cubed/sliced cheese

Tuna fish

Canned chicken breast

Cut up lunch meat

Hot dog pieces

Cooked unseasoned chicken or beef

Cooked elbow macaroni

Scrambled egg

Cut up fruit/vegetables

Phasing Out Food Rewards

Once the dog knows a cue and responds to it reliably, you can begin to phase out the food.


 Make a list of as many non-food rewards as you can think of (rewards can be anything your dog wants or needs).

 Ask for more behaviors for fewer rewards (get a sit and a down for one reward or a sit, down, sit for one reward).
 Vary the rewards - sometimes reward with a treat, other times reward with a non-food reward.
 Gradually offer fewer treats replacing them with non-food rewards.
 Take advantage of the many opportunities that arise during your every day activities to have your dog work for all the things he wants.

Examples of Non-Food Rewards:


Butt scratches/ear rubs


Access to beds/couches

Access through doors (leading into or out of the yard, car, front door for a walk)