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Friday, July 15, 2011

No Treats???

Chance at his watch post


What do you do when you don't have any treats for training and such?  I am trying an experiment with the Chance and teaching him to be less reactive when my husband is walking the Back Dogs.  I have Chance in his fenced area while my husband walks each Back Dog by us one by one. 

I have been playing with different ideas with this scenario and I never have treats on me nor do I really think about it. Then one time when my husband was coming back with one of the dogs and Chance sat watching, I knelt down and began to pet him which lead into massaging his back.  Up and down his spine, gently working my fingers in, when I noticed he was turning his attention towards me.  All the while talking calmly with him while he communicated back to me what he was witnessing and feeling.  I have found through our walk training that sitting is very productive for him, not just for calming down, but where he can safely witnesses and express what he is seeing, thinking and feeling and I listen.  This helps him ground himself when he is over excited, yet he can still take in what is going on around him.  Having Chance sit has been a valuable tool when we come across dogs, people and wildlife on our walks and since he was already sitting I utilize his position.

Most of the time I don't use treats, not for any other reason than I usually don't have them on me.  And if I do have them I use them sparely because I usually don't have many.  I don't use toys or other objects because they have very little value to the dogs, so I am left with just me and my dog.  What do I do?  The massage seem to work.  Out of the four Back Dogs, Chance only has a slight reaction with three of them and when I began massaging him with one of the less threatening dogs, I had great results.  Not only did it work, but we did it together.  By feeling him we were able to speak to each other as well as listen to each other.  Something I have found so pertinent with my dogs and being able to acknowledge how they are feeling.  Sometimes all it takes is that little extra understanding of where they are coming from that they can turn around and give what I am asking of them.

It was an awesome moment with Chance and we were able to do it again with the last Back Dog, Silver, another easy practice, and once Chance was confident all was safe and sound, we had a round of play for reward.  It was simply beautiful watching this fascinating dog feel so validated and secure and I was simply amazed to be a part of this wonderful dance we have together, never knowing where the next note will take us.

So how about you?  What do you use when you don't have treats?  And if you don't use treats, what do you find works for you and your dog?      

9 comments:

Pamela said...

Looks like you found just the right "treat" for Chance.

When I'm on a walk and don't have treats handy, I find a stick or branch and reward Honey with a game of tug. I've doing this as a reward when she walks nicely by my side.

In the house, I sometimes ball up a piece of paper and start and impromptu game of fetch. It's as good as most food treats.

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

If I find myself without treats my heart tends to sink a bit! It happens rarely as it's second nature to me to take treats with me when we go for our walks. A cuddle is just about as good as a treat for Frankie but Beryl is made of sterner stuff, lol. Although I am using treats less than I used to.

It sounds like you've found Chance's sweet spot:) It's great to have something that's better than treats!

Kristine said...

Every dog has a different currency. Treats can be anything, not just food. Some dogs work for rocks or toilet paper rolls. Some dogs absolutely love praise and will do anything for a kind word.

When I don't have treats, which is almost never, I even have treats on me now in the office, I try to amp up my energy. Shiva loves to play chase so I will try to get her involved in a game of jumping and running. I will also use sniffing as a reward as that is something else she loves to do. It really depends, no food = me having to be incredibly creative! Pets do not work for her, unfortunately.

Bocci said...

We think it's great to encourage our dog to "work" for something other than treats-at least some of the time:-)

houndstooth said...

It really depends on which dog it is. Sometimes praise and petting will do it, and sometimes an end to what I'm asking my dog to do is a signal that it was a job well done.

There's a blog that I follow that I think you might enjoy, especially her post today about Temple Grandin and her thoughts on dogs! http://whatdogsdo.blogspot.com/

dexismaximus said...

That's wonderful to hear! I'm sure it was a beautiful moment to connect with him in that way AND get results. I love seeing/hearing of dog training that takes place without treats or toys, it's just a raw example of the relationship and communication we can have with dogs. Of course treats and toys are great motivators too! Lol.

When I find myself without treats I usually tell my dogs thank you. It may seem silly, but it is a simple and effective praise that works for my boys. Dexter also really loves water bottles! He'll take that as a reward just as eagerly as he would a treat.

cherie said...

I find that when the dogs want me to give them a treat. I respond immediately. They have ME trained very well. :0)

House of Carnivores said...

Argos (and Maera, it seems) both are so desperate to please that making a big fuss over them and praising them is usually all we need. I'm kind of glad, too, because back when we first got Argos, everything, including training treats, upset his tummy.

Kirby and Cheryl said...

Iknow when mom doesn't have treats in her pocket and I do something good, she talks to me in this high voice telling me "good boy Kirby!" And she'll pat me on the head. I like it when she talks to me, almost as much as treats.

Woof!
Kirby