Why use food?

Dogs are like any other animals on this planet, they have certain needs and desires. When we train dogs we need to know what motivates them. Depending on the situation such as that the dog has insecure issues or more interests in toys, the majority of the time you begin to use food as a tool for training new obedience of behavior. If the dog responds to this reward, it is commonly known as “food drive.” Food drive is defined as the dog’s willingness to do behaviors for food. Some dogs have very strong food drive, to the point that you have fed them a few hours prior and they will still go crazy when they see more food. Then there are dogs who need a little bit of buildup in their food drive.

How do we build up food drive?

The way you to build up food drive is very simple. You cut back on the amount of food that you give your dog daily. This will build up the interest in the food more than before. If you feed your dog 3 cups a day, then you will go down to two and half cups or even 2 cups a day. It is very common for people to over feed their dog and many times it is not their fault. Owners will go by the back of the bag of dog food and comply with the instructions written there. The instructions on the back will state to feed a certain amount and many times that is way too much.

There are no free meals?

One of the best ways to grade the behavior that you want is to have the dog work for food as stated earlier. So keep the mindset that the dog will only get fed when you work them. If the dog does not want to work for food, then they will not eat. Please keep in mind this is not all a cruel method, it is up to the dog.

What are the types of treats that we can use for training?

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer - Happy Howie's

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer – Happy Howie’s

No matter what food you use for training please keep in mind that the size is very important. For example, it is better to feed a treat that is very small so that they could eat it and go back to training. If you give them a treat that is too big then it will take a minute or so to eat. This will delay the training and shorten the amount of reps done. In training, reps are a vital component in creating a new behavior or command.

The size of the treat should be no bigger than a dime. This will be small enough that you can hide it in your hand for luring and quick enough that they could eat it fast. Even the treats that you slice up should be that size.

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer - Zukes

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer – Zukes

The following are treats that you can use or food that you can use.

  1. Kibble or dry food that you are already feed your dog.
  2. Zukes
  3. Dog cookies that are broken up in smaller pieces
  4. Rolled up treats such as “Happy Howie” cut up into small pieces

Using food will help you in the success of creating better behaviors and obedience, particularly after combining that with reps. Working today will create a better dog tomorrow.

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Teach Your Dog Crate Manners

Does your dog come out of the crate and almost run you over before you take them out and then you start slamming on the crate and over time that crate is now bent?  Taking your dog out has become a caution more than pleasure.  No matter what you do, no matter what you say every time you touch that crate door to let them out, it is like a bull coming out of its cage.  What if I tell you that there are easier ways to teach a dog how to come out with manners?  Not only is this method teaching your dog’s manners when coming out of the crate, it will also train them to focus on you. The following 2 steps will start to teach your dog these proper manners.  In the video below you will see a young puppy named Molly.  Molly was with me to learn manners and obedience.  Molly’s owners had just acquired her from a rescue in Dutchess County, NY, at the age of five months old.  They knew that she needed to learn all the basics right away from Dutchess County Dog Trainer.


1. Clicker Training

Before we get to work on the crate manners we need to teach one important thing first.  We first need to introduce clicker training to the dog and teach the dog what the clicker signifies.  If we would just to push the clicker then there is no meaning behind that.  Therefore, we teach what is commonly known as charging the clicker and that means that when the click sound goes off, you give a reward.  This is a very simple process.  First, get your dog’s food and of course hold the clicker in your hand.  With the puppy away from you, you click the clicker and then give them food.  You should do this 20 to 30 times and the dog will start to understand that when the click goes off at that moment time they will get rewarded. This is commonly known as positive reinforcement or clicker training.

2. Reinforce Good Behavior

Now that the dog understands the clicker, we can now teach the dog what we want them to learn.  One of the most common bad behaviors or bad manners is the dog hitting the crate when you are about to let them out.  In order to correct this, approach them with your food and your clicker. Begin by standing by the crate and if your dog does not hit the crate you will then click and reward for that behavior, which is not to do anything.  Anything is defined as barking, jumping, hitting the crate, etc.  You have rewarded them for good behavior and if they did not behave correctly, they did not receive food.  For this piece of writing I am addressing mainly puppies even though you can use this method on older dogs. There are many other methods that you can use on older dogs, but I will address that in the later piece of writing.


So for quick review, you stand near your dog’s crate and if they do not do any bad behaviors then you reward them.  The next step is to touch the crate, depending on the type of crate that you have, you can pretend that you are opening the crate move the latches open and then click. It is very important to mention that every time that you click you must reward, never cheat your dog.  If they do their part, you should do yours too by rewarding them with food.


After touching the latches and clicking a few times, the next step would be opening the door.  If your dog does not rush you, click for that behavior.  At this phase you will start to add a physical correction.  You are probably wondering what physical correction you should be doing you’re your puppy.  Before we go into that, let us go back for a second.  In the beginning, if your dog was doing a bad behavior, the correction was that the dog did not receive any food.  So bad behavior equals no click which in other words is no food and that is a form of negative reinforcement.  But now we will try to open the crate door and if the dog behaves properly we will click.  So we open the door a little bit and if the dog does not do a bad behavior we will click and reward.  This process will take a number of repetitions, just as the beginning process of touching the crate, the latch, etc.  With each rep as the dog is successful, the door will open more and more.  For example, we open the door and inch, we then click and reward, then the dog goes into a closed position.  Next we open the door a little bit more and repeat the click process, the door closes.  With each successful rep, the door will open and open more.  Keep in mind that this is the goal or ultimate reward for the dog.  The puppy wants to come out and play, so keep in mind that the dog coming out is a reward on its own.  What if the dog does not succeed with each rep?  Here comes the physical correction.  This physical correction is simple.  If the dog tries to one out for any other bad manners such as hitting the crate, the door will now shut on the dog and no reward will be given.  Please keep in mind that when I state shut the door on the dog, I do not mean hit them and hurt them. In this action I mean closing the door stops the ability of the dog coming out.

Dutchess County NY Dog Trainer

Dutchess County NY Dog Trainer


After doing many reps of this with many repetitions of award your dog will start to understand through the learning process of reinforcement.  In the video you will see that I established this in one training session and the focus increases.  Many people will say that they do not care if their dog comes out nicely and not, but we have to understand this is just a piece of the bigger picture.  If we could teach a dog to have manners coming out of the crate, we can do other things that we want our dog to do.


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