When can I stop treating my dog for doing something right?
Answer (in the form of another question -- oooo!) from Kahuna's K9s:
When do you want your employer to stop paying you?
When do you want your spouse, friend, loved one to cease showing appreciation for the things you do?
Treats are a state of mind...
When we work with our dogs, food is the easiest and most common form of reinforcement. It does not work all the time for all dogs but that doesn't mean that clicker or what some folks refer to as "treat" training fails.
It just means we have to find what the dog considers reinforcing.
When we say to always reinforce a behavior, we're not saying you have to always have treats on you. We are saying that the more you prove to the dog there is something in it for them, the more likely you are to see that behavior again. It's science.
Kuna and the Bellowing J
The other day, Kuna was about to run towards the fence to bark at pedestrians. J hollered out "KUNA! GET OVER HERE!" (against my wise, trainer-ly advice). Kuna literally did an "about-face" and came running to J. When the wittle puppy got there, he looked expectantly at J and got....nuthin'. He literally looked at the floor, looked at his hands, scanning the area like a perplexed little bird. And John didn't even give him a "Good boy"!
Well I never! I was completely coming undone with anticipation!
"You're going to reward him, riiiiight???"
"I don't have any treats on me..."
"But that kid lives and dies for a little good ol' boy wrestling! Wrestle with him!"
rolled his eyes lovingly followed my advice and started to rough house with him. Kuna couldn't care less there wasn't food there. And as the pedestrians walked by our house, Kuna continued to play.
So. For Thursday's Think About This, ask yourself:
When do I want my dog to stop doing what I ask?
What could I be paying my dog instead of treats?