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"Why is food drive a big deal?"

Food drive has a lot to do with the relationship we have with our dogs.

Food drive is a reflection on how motivated the dog is in working/following/listening to the human.

Many dogs start off with a decent level of food drive but keep becoming more and more picky as they live with their human.

When a dog is conditioned to believe that he can “train” the human to give him what he wants and the human is constantly indulging the dog’s requests, the dog will continue to train the human in any way he can come up with — including but not limited to not eating his food until he can get that one item that he really likes.

This type of problem will usually snow ball — the dog has learned to hold off on eating until something very yummy is presented and a lot of humans will keep switching to more and more enticing food causing the dog to become more and more fussy.

Why is this a big deal?

It is a big deal — other than the fact that the dog may appear malnourished from not eating — is when the dog is exhibiting behavioral issues which is often heavily related to the mindset behind this fussiness.

We will often see such a dog showing very little respect— and hence trust— to the human. Such a dog is usually quite anxious, reactive, and often reported to be “alpha” or “protective”.

When the dog is viewing the human as a subject of manipulation, such a dog will not trust nor respect someone he can manipulate successfully all the time. The dog will likely love this human very much; unfortunately, love does not imply trust/respect in the animal world.

In nature, dogs work for their food as it is essential to their survival. A leader of a pack is supposed to be the one who allocates resources such as food to all the pack members. This allocation is essential to the pack’s safety and survival. In a healthy and balanced relationship, dogs are usually very excited during food time. It is one of the best moments of their days.

Creating a proper food drive is an important part in getting the human-canine relationship in a proper order so a dog can be as fulfilled and happy as can be.

Food drive is a big part of resolving anxiety and reactivity because it is a reflection on how the dog views the human and how he will choose to making his decisions around the human accordingly.

Building food drive is not about starving the dog.

It is about resetting the balance.

We will communicate with the dog clearly, advocate for him effectively, and always address his concerns promptly so he will view us as the trustworthy leader and simply choose to follow and enjoy the allocation from this leader excitedly.

Instead of being viewed by the dog as a resource, by resetting proper food drive, we can become the one allocating the resources.

This proper mindset, once established, will also carry over to other behaviors as well. You will become the allocator of resources in the pack. and your allocation will be respected and followed For example, when you tell the dog to “place” (i.e. you are allocating space, which is an important resource in a pack), he will go and stay there until released without conflicts. When you tell him to follow you and not drag you or put on his brake (i.e., you are assigning direction/speed of movement, which is very important to the safety and survival of the pack), he will simply follow you without objection. Everything will become much more simple, enjoyable, and non confrontational. That is why building a decent food drive is important.

Hope this makes sense.

Thank you.

Reactive dog board and train dog training with Vancouver dog trainer behaviourist Richard Chan


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