Not sure if this goes in training or food. Noodle doesn’t seem to have any digestive issues with changing up food but he seems to be generally unmotivated to eat his kibble. I think what is going on is that he gets higher value treats when training and the kibble just is blah in comparison. But when I try to train with kibble, he loses interest super fast. When it is something he really isn’t into, like lying still for grooming, he really is only motivated by treats. But I do want him to get good nutrition. Any advice?
I generally prefer to not give any extra special treats to puppies. Since they have never tasted a hot dog, don't give hot dogs. Save the hot dogs, cheese, boiled chicken and such for reinforcing recalls, sits and other important behaviors for adolescent dogs. If you start with no things with puppies there is nothing that will tell them what they just did was extra wonderful. Additionally it is important for puppies to get balanced nutrition which won't happen if they get stuffed with liverwurst.
I would decide on a kibble that Noodle will eat reliably and stick with it while you straighten things out. If you are feeding three meals divide the daily ration into 1/4s. Use one portion for training and the other portions for meals. Put food down and leave it for however long you care to wait (15 minutes maybe and take it away). He won't starve if he misses a meal or two. Healthy dogs won't allow themselves to remain hungry for long. Time for a little tough love!
I know someone who has two mpoos (normal height, not normal weight though). One of them weighs within a pound of Lily who is a normal height/weight but fine boned 37 pound spoo. The other one is almost as obese as the first. The culprit is one inch cubes of liverwurst for everything each dog does. The owner tells me she wishes her dogs could lose weight and tells me she has them on weight reducing kibble but they don't ever lose weight. We have had many conversations about at least cutting those chunks of liverwurst into at least eights, but I think they should be even smaller.
For any puppy or adolescent/adult dog remember that if they aren't food motivated then life rewards may be more useful. Try a little tug play or do a cute trick to give a training break. For puppies five minutes of training then a short break to play will make a more meaningful learning opportunity too. Even though all of my dogs are happy to get special treats I almost never give them during training. I play. They can get a special food reward as a paycheck at the end of a successful training session.
Annie is luckily very food motivated. I liked switching things up when she was a baby and giving a variety of treats. Our vet highly recommends using other brands of high quality dog food as training treats for puppies. In addition to her own food, I got quite a few sample packs at a pet store and then eventually bought a small bag. High value treats (beef lung) was used only for high value things... Like going to her crate, and going inside and sitting at the top of the stairs to get her leash off, drop it for bones outside, etc.
New and different food is interesting to puppies, and YOUR food is especially interesting. At the time, I was packing a lunch everyday with frozen veggies and we had mini training sessions for bits of frozen peas pepper, corn and carrots while I packed lunch or made dinner. She still comes and sits if I open the freezer lol.
And yes, tiny tiny pieces for training treats, and count the kibble into her total food for the day. My standard still gets bits of beef lung <1/4 the size of my pinky nail.
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I agree with Catherine to save the high value treats for big reinforcers, such as recall! This is a lifesaving command so I use very high value treats to make sure it is solid!!
I use treat for training and play for training, I try and mix it up for Norman :-)
Personally, I do not use kibble when training Norman. He will spit it out if its not mixed with his breakfast/dinner. (I make homemade recipes for my dogs and mix kibble in for fiber).
For training indoors, I buy little Bil-Jac soft treats that are apple/banana or peanut butter flavor. They are inexpensive and last a while for us because I pull them into very tiny pieces so he only gets a small taste (that he cannot resist). I think this keeps him interested because its a new flavor he only gets during training so it motivates him to keep working for them. I use these treats indoors only because the outdoors for Norman is very distracting.
Outside, I use either a high value treat (chicken) or I use his ball. In Norman's training class, we are told that if your dog is just crazy about a specific toy (such as a ball) and they bring it to you to play, this is a perfect training opportunity. Making them sit, stay, down, come, etc. for the toy as the reward! They will have fun while they learn!!
Outside, we are wanting them to listen to us and ignore the world which is very hard for some dogs. And sometimes treats, such as kibble, will not do the trick because that tree, squirrel, leaf is much more interesting!! LOL! Find something irresistible!
Norman is more driven by his ball outside than food, so I work with his ball the most! So if your Noodle has a favorite toy they cannot resist, use that! Maybe find a special treat JUST used for training so it is new every time!
I even use ice cubes to train Norman. Every morning when I fill my water bottle, he stands by me when the ice machine goes off waiting for his cube lol. I always use this great opportunity to make him do a task for me! Perfect opportunity!
For Noodle's food, maybe try mix his kibble with something new? My recipes consist of chicken, rice, sweet potato, green beans (no sodium), carrots, oats, etc. Make sure your food is not mainly rice though if you make this. Also I will put a dollop of pumpkin in their dinner as a desert! Using this with his kibble is a task to make, but I make it in bulk every weekend and only use it for dinner. It is so good for the dogs, they are acting much happier!! For breakfast they get frozen Bil-Jac food (obviously thawed). This makes breakfast and dinner interesting for the dogs. Some people would think I am crazy for doing 2 separate and different meals each day! But that is what works for us! :-) We feed them small portions as well. ***important to know that if you do special food with the kibble, Noodle may not want to ever go back to kibble only and may become picky! But personally I like making the homemade food so I do not mind this risk***
Some fun treat ideas for Noodle: Peanut butter bites, apples, blueberries, carrots, sweet potato jerky, watermelon, banana, cantaloupe, etc. Some of these are high in sugar so its best to do in moderation! But Maybe Noodle would like these for training!
Important reminder, we do not train for long lengths of time, so its not like Norman's stomach is packed with treats by the time we are done with training lol. Small pieces for them is perfect for training and great excuses to use healthy treats!!
Sorry for the long response! My word!!!
I wish you luck and hope you find something that works for Noodle! :-)
Samie and Norman
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My dog also loves fruit for training treats. Also when I make myself chicken or some other meat (not salty like ham) I save a few bites and cut them up small, put them in a baggie, date them and put them in the freezer. When I put them in the bag I separate them so they thaw quickly. Then I can grab one of those baggies. I only put about 10 small bits maybe the size of puppy kibble in each bag.
If I buy treats I look for one or two ingredient treats, never anything with a long list of ingredients with preservatives, wheat, etc.
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