Why is it important?
And how can I do this at home with my dog?
Food refusal is an important part of all dog training, one that shouldn't be ignored especially with a dog that places a high value on food. Food can be an ultimate distraction for dogs, just like a bouncing ball or another dog on a leash. Its also an easy thing for us to incorporate at home to help build on already learned obedience commands as well as proof them by adding a level of distraction that varies depending on the type of food we are using; hot dogs might be of more value then regular kibble or milk bones, alternately for some dogs things like raw carrots, cooked chicken or canned food can be the ultimate distraction. It also depends on the dogs "drive" for food; some dogs have a very very high drive for food, this is seen often in breeds like labs, its great because we can use this to motivate our dogs but it can also be a problem when the same thing we use to motivate distracts the dog... which brings us to setting up food distractions for our dogs at home.
I always start using food as a distraction as soon as I can, usually day one or two of teaching a new command. I ask the dog to "sit" then place the food on the ground close to me so I can easily cover it if the dog goes for it. The dog will usually stare at the food, if he decides to go for it simply cover the food and place the dog back into the "sit". If the dog doesn't go for it but stares at it instead wait for the eye contact to return to you and then release and reward the dog. You can increase the distraction by moving the food closer and closer and using higher and higher value food items.
Food refusal is important because once we have taught a command we want to make sure our dogs are reliable, and if they are not reliable around food then the command has not been proofed and the dog will not be reliable around distractions like food. Its simple and easy but a lot of people overlook it, "it will be too hard for my dog" " its not fair to my dog" ect ect.... whats not fair is not setting the ground rules and making them clear to your dog... Sit means Sit and it doesn't mean you can get up if there is a hot dog, a child, another dog or a rabbit.... the rules need to be clear and if they are not clear then you are not being fair to your dog :)
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