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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Treats. Part III. My Dog is Not Motivated By Treats

So far we have talked about ways to save calories and ways to make tasty treats for those dogs on special diets. But what about dogs who have trouble taking treats? Dog who don't seem to be motivated by treats?

Here are some things that a pet parent should consider when a dog won't take treats


Let's say we have a dog who is afraid of a lot of things.  We take our dog outside to treat him every time he sees men (one of his fears). But he won't take treats.  There could be several reasons for this
- We might be too close to the men.  When working on desensitization and classical conditioning, we need to start at a point where the dog is not worried.
- There might be other scary or distracting things nearby - like cars or squirrels

Some dogs have trouble taking treats from people's hands. Tossing or dropping treats might work better.


Different dogs have different preferences. One dog might be happy to work for kibble or green beans. Another might need steak.  Normally, the more you ask of your dog, the higher value the treat should be.  My Lupe used to love freeze dried white fish  - when we were at home. If we were away from home and I tried to feed her the freeze dried fish, she'd stare at me as if I were trying to feed her a rock.  Outdoors was way more distracting so we needed a higher value food.  She was able to take canned sardines and canned tuna.
The dog decides what is high value. In general though, the stinkier and stickier, the more the average dog would like the food.  Raw green tripe would probably be the stinkiest food around.  Remember to discuss any new foods with your vet.

A dog who is having trouble taking treats might not be feeling well, might be in pain, might be having tooth or gum trouble, etc...

Dogs don't need to be hungry in order to work. But if they are so full that all they want to do is sleep, then it probably not the best time to attempt training or counter conditioning.

It might be too hot or too cold

The dog might be tired

So before we declare that a dog is not treat motivated, we need to examine the environment and/or experiment with different types of treats.

Read more about treats here

What makes your dog happy? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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