I am a firm believer in using food reward, or "bait", if the dog is food motivated. Using treats rivets the dog's attention on his handler and makes it much more fun to learn. Don't worry, you will not have to use food for the rest of your dog's life to get a response! By the end of the 6 lessons, you will have started tapering off the use of food on your own, just naturally. If not, I will have you taper off. The food is used to help the dog learn the vocabulary, and then to quicken his response to a learned command. It is a bribe and a reward, and it sure keeps his interest!
It is important to use non-crunchy bait--if you give your dog a biscuit and he bites down on it, crumbs fall to the ground, and guess where his attention is now! With soft bait, that can be torn or cut into tiny pieces, the dog has gulped it down and is looking at you for more.
If the dog is not food motivated, you can't force him to work for food, anymore than you could force me to work for liver and onions!
But every dog has a motivator--the dog must choose the reward, or it isn't a reward. It may be a ball, or a squeeky toy or a tug.
"My dog works for praise"--I've heard that so many times. Sure they will, but try something your dog considers really irresistible, and see how much more animated his responses are, and how much more of his attention you have.
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Hook's K9 Training.
My "famous" Bait Recipe:
I use chicken or turkey hotdogs (Gwaltney)--beef or other hotdogs don't work.
Slice the hotdog into thin disks, about 1/8th to less than 1/4th inch thick. Place them in a single layer (you will have to make several batches--don't bother to crowd them) on several paper towels on a plate. Microwave till done--now here's the tricky part: microwaves vary so much!
Mine is 1200 watts, and I cook my hotdog disks on High for 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Take them out of the microwave as soon as the timer dings or they will overcook. As soon as they cool, they should be dry and easy to tear. If they crumble, the dogs will still like them, they are just messier. They shouldn't be refrigerated--just put them in a Tupperware or a baggy and they keep forever, even in a hot vehicle. They are cheap and clean, and the dogs go nuts for them. One warning: don't leave them in your pockets--your dog will find them and eat holes in your clothes. (Voice of Experience.)