My new pal, a nine-pound, six year-old Poodle mix named Dog Marley, was rescued with the help of Pets for Patriots. Dog Marley is not a big fan of treats. I have tried six different types. Sometimes he’ll take one then hide it under my bed. I’ve left then, not wanting to take his stash. So for training, treats are no big incentive.
On an unrelated issue, what is your opinion of crate training? I had to leave Dog Marley alone for about two hours and he apparently barked almost the whole time. Any thoughts?- Joe
- Make sure Marley is at a healthy weight. You might imagine that an overweight dog (whether mildly so or obese) would be super into food. But, that is not always the case.
- You might consider the treats you have offered Marley to be super good. However, Marley might not be such a fan. Try something like turkey or chicken (cold cuts or boiled), Dognation treats, or Natural Balance rolls. In general, dogs tend to be most interested in softer treats (as opposed to hard biscuit type treats). Plus, softer treats are generally more useful for training in that they can be broken into tiny bits and are more easily consumed by your dog. This means you can plan for more repetitions and reinforcements of a particular behavior in a 3-5 minute training session.
- Consider if you are offering treats in environments and contexts when Marley is stressed. Even low level stress can result in an animal not being in a state of mind to be able to eat. So, do a little ‘treat trial’ when you are as confident as possible that Marley is in a stress-free state of mind.
- Marley might just not be hungry when you offer treats. If you are free feeding Marley (that is, leaving food out in a bowl for all or most of the day), I would suggest you switch to set meal times of two to three times a day. The food can be put down for about 15 minutes or so. If Marley chooses not to eat, then you can remove the bowl and replace it at the next meal time. This is potentially beneficial for another reason other than training. If a dog is sick, you typically know because they vomit, have diarrhea, are lethargic, or don’t eat their food as promptly as usual. It’s a shame to lose one of these first indicators because a dog is a picky eater.
As for crates, I think when used properly, they can be a useful aid to help in house training, preventing destructive behaviors, and helping a dog learn to self pacify and spend time quietly alone. You can start with the crate door open and put Marley’s meals in there so he associates the crate with meal times. You can also put food stuff able toys like the Monster Mouth, Twist n’ Treat, and white sterilized bones in there for him to play with. Help Marley learn to see the crate as a safe place to rest by limiting confinement in there to very brief bits of time to begin and with the crate right next to you. You can gradually increase the time, but only when you are confident he is calm with a specific amount of time. Think of it this way, if every time you walked into a room, someone handed you $100, odds are after a while you would be OK being in that room. If it was a room that you started off not being comfortable in, it might take some time (even with this monetary reinforcement!). But, eventually you would make a positive association between the room and something you want and presumably feel more comfortable being there.