Posts tagged #denver dog training

Food Rewards - What should you use for training?

Food selection is a very important part of the reward-based training process. All food is not equal. You can train your dog in less time, with longer lasting results if you choose the right reward for a job well done.

The first concept each trainer needs to understand is that the food you are using needs to be rewarding TO THE DOG. It sounds so obvious, but I have seen countless new trainers use their dog’s kibble, or buy some super-fancy-dehydrated-omega-something-or-other, that their dogs just didn’t like. You are not incentivizing your dog to work with you if they don’t want what you have. With a huge variety of options at the pet stores, it’s easy to go for really expensive, thinking you’re getting ‘the best’ treats. Or, you might go cheap, thinking you’ll save a dime. But neither are necessarily true. Be sure that what ever you’re using is of high value to your dog.

Food should be soft and easy to swallow. Nothing halts a good training flow like the crunch, crunch, crunch of a big biscuit. Your goal is repetition of the right behavior. It’s hard to get reps in when the dog spends a lot of time chewing.

Food should be easy to handle to avoid dropping it on the ground. Dropping food on the ground encourages your dog to break their attention from you to search for hidden treats in the grass. That can be quite counterproductive. Tiny treats, or treats that shred and crumble are not good choices.

Maybe your dog isn’t very in to what you have that training session. What do you do? Don’t switch training rewards mid session. Instead, do your best to end on a successful repetition of the command or behavior you’re working on and end the session. Make a mental note, that next time, you will need to up the value of the reward for that particular circumstance or environment and try again later. If you switch, your dog can learn to ‘hold out’ on you, and wait to perform until you have just the right thing. 

Use a variety of rewards. Try to find five or six different rewards that your dog goes bananas for…..but not in the same training session. Diversity and interest is key, but each type of food has a value rating to your dog. They will like one type of food over another, if used in the same session, and feel disappointed (instead of rewarded) when they get the less desirable treat. Switching the food out each session can also reduce irritation to the digestive system.

Foods that are nutritionally balanced are ideal for dog training. Many of the products you find at the pet stores are full of sugar, artificial ingredients, dyes and chemicals. There are healthy, tasty options out there if you know what to look for. Our favorite food rewards are high in value and easy on the budget. Give these a try:

RedBarn meat rolls

Natural Balance meat rolls

Fresh Pet Select Vitals

Hotdogs (yes, good old fashioned hot dogs)

Cut up cheese

Happy Howies rolls

Looking for a budget option, or does your dog have dietary restrictions? Follow our Dog Dynamix Board on Pinterest for delicious home made dog treat recipes.

Busy, busy, busy...

Happy New Years, from Dog Dynamix! It was crazy busy at the facility for the holidays, which got us thinking..... Everybody is SO BUSY, that sometimes it's hard to find time for dog training. Here are some tips and tricks for some quick obedience lessons that you can work on while getting your every-day routine out of the way.

Here are some suggestions for doing just that:


Feeding time is the perfect time to get your dog to learn to earn. Ask for a sit and/or down before offering up their dish. 


Practice this command when need to have your door open while you bring in groceries, or packages, to allow guests to enter your home, or to be let in or outside


“Stay” should mean, “do not move until I come back for you.” Practice this in your home if you need to walk across the room for a moment - to refill your bee....... er, water.

“Sit-stay” can also be used on your walk when you stop for poop patrol, or if your dog is easily distracted by other dogs or people. It’s also not a bad command to use when a car is approaching, or at the cross walk, either.

Come, Here or Your Own Recall Word

A solid recall is important, and you can practice this so many times in your daily routine. When it’s time for a walk, for mealtime, to go out for the last potty of the night, or simply just because. Be sure to check out our last blog for tips on teaching a solid recall!


We like to use dog cots for the “Place” command, but a throw rug or a dog bed will do. "Place" means go to your spot and stay there. This command can be used when the doorbell rings, or when guests arrive. You can train ‘Place’ when it is dinnertime for the humans, or if you want to watch the game or a movie..... Or anytime you want everyone to relax.

Dog Dynamix offers lots of class options to help you make the most of your relationship with your dog. Contact us, and we will help find the right class and training to fit your needs.


Recall problems? We can help! Most dogs will come when called as long as there's nothing better to do. But the second there is something interesting, the dog is suddenly blind and deaf to your commands. If your dog won’t come when he is called, don’t panic. We can fix that. The fact that you’ve tried and failed before doesn't matter. We can fix that too. We have compiled some common mistakes that people make when trying to teach their dog to recall, as well as some simple fixes. 


Stop being the fun police. 

The first thing you need to do is evaluate your own habits and behavior when you call your dog. Too many owners act as the 'fun police' and have created a negative association with the recall command. The dogs associate the word "come" with unpleasant or boring (to a dog) things like: 


  1. Punishment, or being told "NO!"

  2. A crabby, mean and irritating voice

  3. The end of the walk or outing  

  4. Being grabbed by the collar, and put back on leash 

  5. Being called away from fun things like chasing other animals including people or dogs 

The first step in getting a solid recall is to make the very act of running towards you, the best thing that happens to your dog all day, any day and anywhere. What's your dog's favorite thing in the whole world? Steak? Hotdogs? Cheese? A toy? If you want a solid recall, be sure to never leave home without the proper currency. Kibble won't cut it, here, folks. You need high value goods, so come with you’re a-game. You will need some place to store these goods on your person. We recommend a bait bag or training vest. They're like your Mastercard. Never leave home without them! 


Play the Name Game. 

If you are new to training your dog to come when called, or trying to fix an old problem, it's best to start training or retraining with your dog on a 6 foot leash. Wait until your dog is not looking at you and then say your dog’s name in a very bright and happy tone; you know, not the same tone as the old fun police. As soon as your dog turns to look at you, mark the 'look' with a word to let the dog know this is fantastic, like “yes” or “good,” and then immediately give your dog a high value reward. Once your dog is turning towards you 10 out of 10 times, try the name game in an enclosed area off leash (kitchen, living room, back yard). Systematically increase the level of distraction on outings using the 3D's. Play this game in a minimum of 5 new places.


Don't Bribe the Dog. 

Are you waiving biscuits in the air in a feeble attempt to call your dog inside away from a squirrel? Stop. Just stop. Shaking the cookie bag, or bouncing the ball won't work in the long run, as you are only teaching your dog to measure if what you have is worth stopping what he's doing. If there are distractions involved, the odds are not in your favor. Remember that coming when called produces payment. If you have ever worked with a crooked contractor, you know that payment up front rarely gets the job done! 


Don't chase the dog. 

Dogs love to be chased! Moving towards the dog will most likely begin the best game of catch-me-if-you-can your dog has played all day. And you will be very frustrated in the interim. Instead, RUN AWAY. That's right. Move away from your dog, and if he moves towards you, produce one of those a-game rewards we already talked about. 


Motivate your dog.  

A dog who is well fed won't care about your treats. Be sure to practice your training when your dog is HUNGRY if you're using food. If your dog is more into toys and activity, don't walk/jog/hike them to death before training. Make sure your dog has the proper motivation to participate in the training.  


Are you Charlie Brown's School Teacher? 

If you are repeating the "Come" command, without any follow through, you are definitely starting to sound like the teacher..... to your dog. You must be able to follow through with your instructions. If there is the slightest chance that your dog might not come to you, keep it on leash. That's right. Use a long line if you want to play ball or Frisbee, or let your dog explore without the possibility of ignoring your command. You can always step on the line, and then reel that sucker in like a marlin if your dog should choose to ignore the command. That way he learns you will make good on your word; the first time, every time. As always, be sure to reward any and all correct responses (did you bring you’re a-game?)! Provide contrast and clarity to your dog. 


Take your time. 

Training a solid recall is a step by step process. Letting your dog off leash too early is a sure fire way to teach them NOT to come. Use the strategies already outlined. Once the name game is solid (10 out of 10 correct responses in a row in five different places), you can start the formal process. Use a leash or a long line until your dog will come to you, starting at 6 feet away from you and then up to 50 ft away, 9 out of ten times under the following conditions, in the following order: 

  1. In your kitchen

  2. In your living room  

  3. In your back yard 

  4. In an empty parking lot

  5. In an empty park  

  6. With a food bowl near by but not in reach (with food in it)

  7. With a toy near by but not in reach 

  8. With toy in reach

  9. People in the distance

  10. Dogs in the distance 

  11. Wildlife in the distance 

  12. People near by 

  13. Dogs near by  

  14. Wildlife near by (preferably not of the predator varieties)

  15. In a busy park

  16.  People close or interacting with the dog 

  17. Dogs close or interacting with the dog  

  18.  Don't let the wildlife get too close!! 

If you complete this process using high value rewards and no-nonsense follow-through, you will have a solid recall! 


Retraining with a new command 

It's okay to start over. If you have made a lot of the training mistakes we outlined, change your recall command and retrain it. Stop using the 'fun police' word and use "here" or "front" or "Mississipi...." It doesn't matter as long as you don't make the same mistakes again.  


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