Saturday, January 8, 2011

Food avoidance training

On Thursday, I decided to go help Glenda work with “Wendy” on some food avoidance training. Wendy has had a few people sneak and give her food from the table, etc. and Glenda wanted to reinforce the fact that Wendy should be avoiding food from strangers. I thought this would be a great opportunity for Vienna as well. So I brought Vienna with me and we ended up working with both dogs. To prepare for the training exercise, we seeded the floor with several food items. A piece of bread, pita chips, peanuts, a crumbled granola bar. Wendy was first up and we place a long line on her. We let her explore the area and when she went for the food she got a verbal and/or leash correction. It didn’t take her long at all to remember this “game”. It was as if a light bulb went on and she was like “I remember this.” When she made the decision to walk past the food on the floor, we would praise her like crazy and give her a piece of kibble. She did really well with that, so we made it harder by added some yummy lunch meat on the floor, and then told her to go into a down stay, with the meat very close to her. She never went for anything on the floor. So we praised her and gave her kibble. Next, we made it more difficult by going out of sight. We did this for a very short time, then went back and rewarded her. We slowly built up the time in which we were out of sight. We were able to do it for three to four minutes and Wendy didn’t even try to eat the meat. What a good girl. Glenda was so proud of her!

Wendy in a down stay with bread, meat and chips all around her.

Wendy in a down stay avoiding many pieces of meat and a slice of bread.  Good girl!

Wendy in a down stay but this time she is trying so hard to avoid the food that she is laying as far away from the food as possible without breaking her down stay.  The look on her face is priceless!

Next up was Vienna and we started with just the basics on the floor (no meat). She went for it once and I gave her a correction. Then she realized what I wanted from her and she avoided the food completely. She didn’t even want to walk in the kitchen. With a little enticing, she would come in, but she wouldn’t even look at the food. Next, I put Vienna in a down stay with the food all around her.

Vienna in a down stay completely ignoring the bread and the pieces of meat.

When she made the decision not to go for the food (or even look at it) she was praised like crazy. She was such a fast learner and she wanted to do it right. She was doing so well that I pushed a piece of bread between her front paws. She did not react at all. So more praise for Vienna!

Vienna in a down stay with a piece of bread right between her front paws.

Next, I decided to put the meat on the floor. She went to sniff it when I put it down but I gave her a little correction then she completely ignored it.

Vienna is in a down stay with pieces of meat between her front paws.

Vienna still in a down stay ignoring the meat and bread that has been place even closer to her.  Good girl!

At this point, I knew we could start going out of sight. We stepped out of sight for about 30 seconds, and when we came back this is what we saw. Vienna would not even look at the temptation! PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!!!

Vienna completely turning her head away from the food between her front paws!

We were able to work Vienna up to three to four minutes with us out of sight and it was not even a challenge. Because both of the dogs did so well with this, we took them one at a time and offered them the food from our hands. Now that was a little more tempting, but with a few little corrections, both dogs were turning their heads and backing away from the food. At the end of the training session, we took a picture of both dogs together. Didn’t they both do a great job?

Wendy and Vienna laying together in a down stay avoiding all of the food on the floor around them.

6 comments:

  1. Great instructive post! Thanks!

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  2. Your welcome! Does anyone else do this sort of thing with their pups in training?

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  3. We do all the time. I think it's so important for the puppies to not take any food from strangers' hands so I start them early. :)

    Good job to both girls!

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  4. We did a lot of that with the GDB pups we worked with! We worked especially hard at training them not to take food (offered or not) from small children. Super important for future service dogs of any kind!

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  5. Way to go! All that work definitely shows!

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