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  • Richard Chan


"What is wrong with using food or treats in training? We need to get paid! The dog needs to get paid, too!" I use food when l train my dogs. I use lots of it. As a matter of fact, l feed them their whole day's ration through training. But l keep seeing and hearing dogs who would not listen or do what they are asked unless there is food in the owner's hand. Sometimes, even with a high value treat, the dog still wont listen! I want to talk about this because many people believe that is normal. They think treat is the pay check and like people, dogs should be paid. I agree they should be paid. I just dont agree that it is okay to have a dog who will only think about listening to the owner when he sees food. The bottom line is that such a dog is not obedient no matter how you look at it. A well trained dog should listen when being asked. Obedience, by definition, should not be a negotiation. When you have a great relationship with a person, for example, your spouse, he/she won't ask you to pay him/her to take out the trash, wash the dishes, mown the lawn, take the kids to school...etc. What kind of a relationship is it if you ask your husband to do something as simply as taking the trash out and he will not do it even after you have pleaded with him for 30 minutes and showed him a $100 bill? What kind of relationship is it if you ask your dog to do something as simple as to laid down and he wont do it even after you have repeatedly said the command while showing him all kinds of cookies? The problem is not with food, it is with the relationship. You should pay the dog. But you can pay the dog with something much more solid and deep - direction, protection, calm guidance, and clear communication. You can pay the dog by fulfilling his inner needs, by giving him mental contentment. In other words, you can pay your dog with leadership instead of cookies. Dogs crave for leadership. They want to have someone they can follow and respect. Giving them nothing but cookies and unearned affection will not earn you their respect. Instead of using superficial treats as your foundation, connect with them by implementing structure and paying them with leadership, this way, you can meet their most inner needs and you will have a great relationship with them. When you are one with your dog, he will do what you ask, with or without cookies. As a matter of fact, he will probably offer the behaviour on his own without you even asking. That is what a loving relationship in the human world should be (e.g. husband just goes and takes out the trash without being asked); and that is the kind of relationship you can have with your dog, too. 


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