Too food motivated?

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SherriA
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Too food motivated?

Postby SherriA » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:36 pm

Overall, Henry is a pretty well behaved little guy. He has some things we need to work on, though. Great, I thought, he's so food motivated it should be a breeze to teach him things! Yeah, not so much. He's SO fixated on food that his brain shuts off and he can barely remember to breathe when it's around! Even things like green beans or carrots are high value. He has no interest in toys or tug or anything like that.

I had a clicker and a bag of treats and I was all ready to start getting him used to how the clicker works, but he's so completely wound up with the treats in the same room that I don't think he even hears the click! I've never had a dog driven so completely crazy by food, so I'm stumped.

We missed the start of this round of classes at the local training facility, so it will be awhile before we can go to a class. I was hoping to do some preliminary stuff at home until the new year. Any ideas? Do I just keep clicking and treating and hope he makes the association?
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JudyL
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Re: Too food motivated?

Postby JudyL » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:59 pm

I have dogs like that and had to mostly use praise. You could try training after he's had most of a meal and using something really low value like tiny pieces of plain cheerios or some other really bland food. Maybe some food in the tummy will help knock down the hyper focus on only the food.

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Re: Too food motivated?

Postby emmas_mom » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:18 pm

He's SO fixated on food that his brain shuts off and he can barely remember to breathe when it's around! Even things like green beans or carrots are high value. He has no interest in toys or tug or anything like that.
Eddie has a twin! :rofl: Okay, I will stop laughing and just say - you have my sympathy. It is a challenge indeed, and even though Eddie did do clicker training, the food part actually became a huge problem in the long run, and praise means b*gger-all to Mr. I-Want-Treats Eddie. I still use clicker and treats for really important stuff like reliable recall, but other than that I abandoned that method. Now I just use a big voice to make him do what I want. :peekdoor:

On the other hand, Henry IS a beagle. What can I say except put a lock on your fridge, your garbage can, and all your food cupboards!
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Re: Too food motivated?

Postby Calypso » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:26 pm

You can make him work for kibble and start with things that make him figure it out. Charging the clicker should go ok since it's the connection that is important. You can also do name recognition (i.e. "Henry!" = turn and look at mom no matter when he is) and after he gets the kibble for looking at you, toss a kibble a short distance away from you so you can say his name again when his focus is elsewhere.

My new favorite go-to exercise for all dogs is an automatic settle. He's on leash and when he is quiet and not bouncing around, he gets a treat. Dogs who mug mom for food don't get rewards. Dogs who sit back momentarily do get treats. You can shape him from just standing a short distance back quietly to quietly laying down on the floor (or couch if that works better).

I'd also do auto-off/leave it for food in your hand. Put a kibble in your hand and close it, then let him sniff at it. He'll go batty and freak out for longer than is reasonable, but as soon as he gives up the least bit, you say "take it" and open your hand. (Important - don't move when you say "take it" or he will key into your movement and not pay much - if any - attention to your words.) You can work up to having the food in your open hand, but he doesn't think about taking it until you say "take it".

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Re: Too food motivated?

Postby connie » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:29 pm

Mike, my Lapphund, was like that: he couldn't focus on anything else if he knew I had food. I did what Judy mentioned: trained with praise, gave him a food reward at the end of something, and scrapped the clicker, because it made him look for food and completely turn away from whatever else we were doing. Using hand signals worked well for teaching Mikey the basics: sit, down, stay, high-five. When he did what I had asked, I said 'cookie for you!' and got a cookie from where it had been out of sight, like on a very high table.

Alex was like that in agility, I found myself luring him through the course because he would only go if I had a treat, and that's not agility. In Nosework, he found something more compelling than the food in my pocket. :grin:

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Re: Too food motivated?

Postby SherriA » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:16 am

Oh Jean, Eddie sounds *just* like Henry! Treats are the only really important thing to him. Praise is just a precursor to a treat. Amy says she's too uncoordinated to use a clicker, so she used "good" or something like that as a marker. So, he hears praise and comes right over looking for the treat that he's due! I'm hesitant to use the a big voice with him; he wasn't treated well in his last home and it took him a long time to feel safe and confident, so I'm afraid to set him back.

He's super sensitive to grains (definitely wheat, not sure what others), so no cheerios, kibble, etc. He's eating THK grain free for now, which isn't something I can use as a training treat without making an awful mess. LOL Carrots and green beans work, but I'll have to see if I can find something even more bland.

OK, so I'm going to attempt to charge the clicker and see how that works. Getting his attention and learning to settle are big, so we'll be working on those as well as leave it/take it. He'll "leave it" if you put your hand in front of him (vibrating with anticipation the whole time) but that only works if I actually have a free hand I can get right in front of his nose. Definitely needs some work!

I would really love to get a CGC for him in the new year, and maybe try nosework if we can find a nearby class. This is the first time in as long as I can remember that I have a dog I could actually take to classes! Jack wasn't food motivated enough, was terrified of the sound of a clicker anywhere in his vicinity so classes were a no go for him. Oliver had seizures when other dogs around him got rambunctious, so no classes for him either. Henry, though, isn't interested in or distracted by other dogs but is perfectly comfortable around them and really, really loves to do anything for a treat. I think he'll be a good student if he can just learn a little self control around food.
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Re: Too food motivated?

Postby maxs_mommy » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:22 am

With regard to treats I bake chickpeas, just dump them out of the can, rinse them and bake on a baking sheet. Sometime's I sprinkle a pinch of garlic powder over them. 350-400 for about 30 minutes until they're crunchy. That's our low-value treat. Also, dry roasted unsalted peanuts work well. It sounds like he's a perfect candidate for classes!
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Re: Too food motivated?

Postby Moemer » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:26 am

In my experience, dogs who are really nutty to an extreme around food don't exactly have an issue with food, that is just a convenient outlet. There's usually some underlying issue of being easily over simulated, poor impulse control, anxiety, etc etc.
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Re: Too food motivated?

Postby JudyL » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:42 am

The Honest Kitchen food can be mixed up, spread thin, and baked into treats. It might need something to help it hold together, not sure what that might be though.


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