|Barked: Tue Feb 7, '12 8:54am PST |
|Most puppies don't hit toy as reward status until they're done teething. Tug and some toys just hurt when you're getting new teeth and generally speaking tug isn't a great idea at this point. (Teething occurs from about 4-7 months. A frozen washcloth you don't care about will likely come in handy shortly). I personally prefer toys to food for training (cheaper, more fun for me and less prep work) but puppies can be finicky.
If you want to increase her desire for things I would use her prey drive. Whip little flat toys by her quickly, get a flirt pole or make one since it's easier(not unlike the fishing pole cat toys) but keep the toys soft. End the game when she's still into it, not after she's gotten bored and like Lucille said, reserve that toy for play with you. That toy does not come out unless you are playing with it.
So with puppies, I like human food since it tends to hold their attention better. Canned tuna or chicken based homemade treats can be very high value. Our kryptonite food is Hot dogs. I use standard cheapy massive pack from walmart but better quality beef or turkey work just as well. Take one, cut it up tiny and either microwave it until it's basically dried out on a papertowel (less grease), or feed as is (the latter if you want to build interest). Do keep in mind though that one hotdog can be the equivalent of a cheeseburger, a milkshake and a chocolate bar in terms of fat and calories so super-tiny pieces are likely best. To save on fat I'll usually mix in the hotdog with kibble bits for a dog-trail mix of sorts. Even with that I decrease what I give the dogs for dinner because of the calorie bounce from the food.
If I want perma-focus I use human food. If I'm okay with drifting I can use commercial ones. They really just don't hold her interest like human food.
Also, don't feed her before you train/pick your moment carefully. I'm not saying starve your puppy but if you feel like training, right after breakfast or dinner is probably not the best timing.
I'm against cat food for dogs mainly because our golden got sick (from both ends) after managing to eat small can the cat knocked off the counter. This dog could eat nearly anything but it was the catfood that made him sick, go figure. It's not necessarily bad for them, it's just poorly balanced for dogs and even bad commercial treats at least have the same species in mind. You can replicate the smell and interest with tuna (or other stinky fish) and cheese in some homemade treats (which quite literally take 3 minutes to put together).
Adding: Food can be even trickier than toys at some points. A breeder I know has a female who won't eat anything for a treat but white meat chicken and she'll pick out the pieces from the breast first. Dark meat? Think again. Liver? No. Heart? No. Fish? No. It took her quite a while to figure out what it was the dog wanted.
Edited by author Tue Feb 7, '12 9:03am PST
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