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Is Your Dog Not Motivated By Food? Here's How to Help

Some dogs are harder to motivate than others. Motivation is a big part of what we need to focus on if we want our dogs to do what we’d like. If we’re motivating our dogs properly, they’re going to willingly do behaviors. Aside from environmental reinforcers, food it the main thing people use to try to get their dogs to do what they’d like. Some dogs will work for their kibble while other dogs seem to need filet mignon. If your dog falls under the latter, this is for you.

The first thing you’ll need to do is stop giving your dog “high value” food for free. If you’re giving your dog steak and eggs for breakfast, your dog isn’t going to be very motivated to actually perform behaviors for it in a time of need. This also means that it’s likely going to be hard to help your dog build positive associations as well.

The second thing you’ll need to do is start to get your dog used to doing behaviors for random, tasty food rewards. This can help bring some excitement into the mix. If you start this and you notice your dog start to respond quicker, you’re doing the right stuff.

The third thing you’ll want to do is start using your dog’s meals for training. If you have 100 kibble, ask for a sit, and then provide 5 or so kibble as the reward. After 20 reps your dog will have consumed their 100 pieces and you’ve successfully motivated your dog with their own, “lower value” food.

Switching all of this up will take some time. Stick with it though and you’ll find that soon enough you’ll have some higher value food options you can use to really motivate your dog.

Quick note: Sometimes a lack of motivation is caused by other things like fear, stress and anxiety. If this is happening, you'll want to focus on finding a high value food and you'll need to have a plan to help your dog.

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