A crusty old trainer told me a crustier, older trainer once told him: Never give away a bowl of food.
And as I approach crustiness, I follow that advice religiously, because it helps Buddy be a better hunter.
Short of birds, food is the strongest motivator … for an un-neutered dog. So I’ve learned to use food strategically.
It starts with dinnertime. Lucky for the neighbors, Buddy doesn’t have to sing for his supper. But he does whoa for it. Talk about temptation!
I also dole out food treats for coming when called or other jobs well done, and early in the training, they are awarded even when Buddy only got an “A” for effort. As he masters a command, the treats are reserved for excellent work.
I never give away treats for free. Like all praise, food is earned – phony “good dogs” only mislead a dog from the real work at hand.
If you have two dogs, it doesn’t take long for one to want what the other gets when he does a good job. So go ahead and use food envy when you have to.
If you remember that food is a training tool, like me with Buddy, you’ll get more than just a dog with a full belly. Urp!
PS: Watch some great springers in action in this excerpt from my show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zrsQWPHhsA