Food is something that you can give your dog in situations to get him to act in a way you'd like. It's used as payment. Ask your dog to do what you'd like, and in return your dog gets a tasty morsel of food. If everything goes to plan the behavior your dog did that earned the food will happen more frequently in the future. The technical term for this is Positive Reinforcement.
Today Kelly and I brought V to Lowe's. As we were walking around doing our shopping V received small pieces of food for walking nicely with us. He also received food for holding sit stays and doing other behaviors that came in handy when we were shopping. By doing this he was able to join in on the shopping and do so in a way that was fun for all involved.
Carrying food on you when your dog is present in our book is a must. Why? Because the food serves as motivation. In order to get your dog to do behaviors, you must provide motivation. Food is the easiest form of motivation as it can be carried in a pocket or a small pouch. The food can be cut up into small pieces so you don't have to worry about your dog putting on excess pounds. It's also important to bring food that dogs' deem to be "high value." High value in a dog's mind is typically something like real meat or cheese. (You wouldn't want to leave these out in room temperature for too long.) Your dog will let you know what his favorite is if you try lots of different stuff.
If you don't bring something that your dog finds motivating what usually happens is a lot of frustration. Usually you end up asking over and over for your dog to do something and your dog doesn't respond. This frustration ends up being stress that you don't need which can all be prevented by the power of food.
In order to make food as powerful as it can be, make sure it isn't readily available. Feed your dog twice daily and remove the food after 15 minutes. And to really increase your dog's motivation for food, make him earn every piece of food he gets by doing some sort of behavior. By using food to get your dog to do the behaviors you'd like, your life can be a lot less stressful and you can have fun, happy moments with your dog. Make sure to always have it on you though because without motivation, you can't get behavior.