When I was 8, I trained my Siberian Husky with a choke chain and a slice of American cheese. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I was using “people food” or that she would start begging because she had some cheese or that I was training a dog that only worked for cheese and not out of her undying love for me and all my instructions. She was a husky and I was 8 so, let’s face it, training was a precarious mission and I was certainly going to use any and all the help I could get.
But this is not a blog about using food to train dogs or how I still encounter people who resent using food in dog training. I was actually just musing about how far I’ve come since using a simple slice of cheese. When I train now, I have no fewer than five types of food and I still seem to be perpetually missing something.
Check it out.
I use hard, dry biscuits when I need something that hits the floor with a thud. I use white treats on dark floors and dark treats on light floors. I have small, soft treats for rapid-fire shaping sessions. I have long dangly treats to hang off of ring gates and cones. I have hunks of meat to make a serious impression. I have meatballs when I need something that rolls. I use brightly colored treats that the dogs can easily find in tall grass and always have sample bags of kibble for when I need some tiny but not too high value training treat. I have paste and rollerball treats when I need to encourage licking versus chewing.
I’m forever seeking out treats that don’t get crumbly in my pocket, that don’t leave my hands slimy and disgusting, and that are seriously exciting for my dogs. I still forget about food in bait bags and find moldy horrific things growing in them. Sometimes I play the game, What in the world did that food used to be? as I stare at some mold that is completely unrecognizable.
I have baggies and Tupperware containers in various sizes. I was super psyched when I found the Tupperware with tiny ice-packs in the lids to keep food fresh longer.
I have texted people for the express purpose of alerting them that a certain treat is in stock or that they *need* to try some new product immediately.
My dryer lint consistently has treats in it, left over from pockets I forgot to check before tossing clothes in the wash.
I am always a little embarrassed and surprised when a client tells me that they’d rather not put food in their sweatshirt pockets. Um, isn’t that what they are for?! I’m also taken aback when clients ask me, “Don’t you want to wash your hands?”. Honey, I live with hot dog hands.
So, it only makes sense that I buy clothes that I think will specifically make holding and delivering treats easy. I buy gloves that make it easy to get treats when it is cold outside.
My opinion of people always goes way up when they pull out a cool treat I haven’t yet seen. I definitely suffer from Treat-Envy.
My grocery cart looks like I live on pepperoni, string cheese and meatballs (the rest of the cart has peanut butter, yogurt and cans of pumpkin for stuffing Kongs).
A super special reward for me is a trip to Clean Run with a credit card.
And that’s just the food! Don’t even get me started on toys, marker signals, tugs, collars and harnesses.
To think, once upon a time I was just a girl with a choke chain and cheese.
Top Ten Treats:
1. Happy Howies Gourmet Meat Roll-Turkey or lamb
2. String cheese
3. Hormel’s Mini-pepperoni
5. Paneer cheese
6. All-beef bologna
7. Hebrew National hot dogs