Thursday, September 23, 2010

Are you missing out on a Key Training Tool?

 What if there was an amazing training tool, that didn’t cost you ANYTHING!   What if this tool was something you HAD to do everyday any way? What if you were actually missing out on what of the best training tools around? I believe it’s possible that a lot of you are! 

What is it?

I call it, 
‘Working for your Supper' 


Okay, I’ll admit, it does cost you something.  You do have to buy your dog’s food.  So, it’s not really free.  Then again, it’s something you’d have to have anyway, so it’s not an added expense.  Are you missing out on this totally AWESOME opportunity to train your dog? 

Do you just mindlessly poor your dog’s food into his bowl, and let him mindlessly eat.  Maybe you have him sit and wait until the bowl is on the floor and you release him to it, this is at least a start.  If you are not using this time as a training opportunity, you are so missing the boat!

Once or twice a day you have a fantastic opportunity to train your dog, for something he really wants!  Take advantage of it!

Here are a couple of the more common excuses I hear when I make this suggestion. 

1 ) “I don’t have the time.” 

Let’s take a look at the ‘time’ excuse.  How long does it take your dog to consume a meal?  More than likely, not very long.  How long does it take to drive to and take a class?  A couple hours?  I can guarantee that “Working for your Supper” will NOT take that long!  It will take only a few minutes.  Not to mention you get to do it EVERY DAY!  Maybe even TWICE a day.

I have to get to work in the morning.  Most of us do.  If we were independently wealthy, it would not make this tool any less valuable.  This will literally take a few minutes.  I’m sure there’s time; you just need to ‘make it’.  I would challenge you to get up 10 minutes earlier, skip checking your e-mail in the morning, skip that morning news on TV, make your lunch the night before.  Maybe cut "Survivor" or "Dancing With The Stars" a little short?  There’s some way to make the time, if it’s important enough. 

Our first agility dog, a Bichon named Molly, really struggled with weave pole entries.  Molly really LOVED her food.  So, guess what, that’s what she did for her breakfast and supper.  We WEAVED!!  Our rule became, if I didn’t take her out to weave for her meals, she wouldn’t eat.  That of course was NOT an option, so it made me take her out to ‘play’ in the weave poles.  I simply divided her meals into 1/3’s and we’d weave for her supper.  It made a HUGE difference in her performance, and I believe was a major contributing factory in her achieving her MACH. 

Sorry, Time is an excuse that just doesn’t cut it. 

2)      I don’t have a building to train in.

Do you have a yard?  I know, it’s dark in the morning and dark early at night.  Do you have a porch or yard light?  Trust me, you can make it work.  What about a living room, family room or spare bedroom or basement?  You don’t need a large area! 

Working contacts, use a plank and a cinder block for your 2/2.  Use the stairs.  Weaves, work entries with just 2 poles!  Maybe you have room for 4!  AWESOME!  One jump exercises works in a small room.  Don’t forget your trick training!  It’s mostly about relationship anyway!  You can’t train your dog if it doesn’t want to play with YOU!!

Sorry, you don’t need a training building or a big yard!  You don’t even need agility equipment!  Be creative!!!

3)      I feed raw, so I can’t work my dog for it’s supper. 

Seriously?  I feed raw, and it doesn’t stop me.  Again, you need to be creative.  Muscle meat is really easy to work with, so are cut up chicken hindquarters.  If you have larger meaty bones, trim as much meat off as you can and work with that.  Then they can have the bone. 

I don’t want to touch it.  Again, seriously?  That’s what soap is for.  Okay, use latex gloves if you really don’t like it.  Use a rubber baby spoon and let them eat off that.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!  Don’t look for excuses, look for solutions!

4)      My dog doesn’t really like his food.

You might be surprised that a picky dog might just become UN PICKY when he gets to work for his supper.  Dogs really do want to please us and if a fun training session involves food, bring it on!  If you have a dog that really isn’t into his food, put it away (the food), for 10 minutes or so, and try again.  If your dog is alive, it’s because he’s eating!!  So, you just need to create that desire.  Don’t give up!

Given just a few sessions of working for your supper, I really think you’ll see an amazing change in your dog’s performance and your relationship!

Train like you Play, and Play like you Train!!

Happy Playing!!


  1. Very well said! I would have to say in Vinnie's short 1 1/2 years of life, he has probably had (and I am NOT exaggerating) less than 30 meals put on the floor for him. He worked for the rest. I canNOT even imagine what he would be like if we had missed out on those other ONE THOUSAND AND FIFTY training sessions (had to get out the calculator for that one!!).

  2. Well - I took this out of the box again and it appears to be working!!! In the past Taylor said 'thanks , but I'll wait" And wait he would. This weekend he seemed excited to work and eat his rations from my hand or his bowl b etween tries. I discovered that if I leave the lights on in the north end of the house the weaves are illuminated enough to use. We will need more light if we are adding visual distractions.