Wonderful posts explaining how marker/reward based training works, millitntanimist and LynnI
As already mentioned, dogcatharmony, treats are not supposed to be used as bribes. And for those dogs not so food motivated, it's up to us to find what does motivate our dogs to use as reinforcers. For example, Lucky isn't always receptive to food. But, as in the example Lynn provided, sniffing is a valuable reward for him. It's how I taught him to walk on a loose lead (whoever had him before did a number with correction-type training to the point he was a nervous mess on a leash
). Recently, I discovered that a massage/belly rub works really well with him too. We had just returned from a run the other day and he was about to lunge for a squirrel on a bird feeder. I said "leave it," he did, and then laid down on the ground. I took the opportunity to reward him with some petting and he rolled over into his regular massage position...he chose his own reward
. Lucky has a super high prey drive so you can imagine how surprised I was that he would have preferred a massage over a squirrel chase. Every dog is unique, it's just a matter of observing them well and finding the correct rewards.
Another example is when Nukka first came to us. She had arrived from another foster home and from the moment she stepped through the door, I spent 10 minutes teaching her her new name using a clicker to mark the split second she turned her head towards me. I then instantly rewarded. After a few successful tries, I only clicked her when she made a few steps towards me...then only when came right to me. Ever since, her recall has been 100% regardless of any highly distractive environments. Initially, the treats were used as rewards to teach her the desired behavior, ie. stop what you're doing and run to me when I call your name. Once she learned the behavior just about everywhere we went, I didn't have to use treats anymore. All it took was a minute here and there, no lengthy training sessions at all, and the best part of it all was I didn't have to make
her come to me, she was only too happy to.
Here is a website that has all sorts of great videos to see some of how this type of training works in action. http://www.dogmantics.com/Dogmantics/Home.html