This quick article is aimed at dog trainers. I'm sure a refresher more than anything else as it's a very common sentence in the dog training industry. Especially if you work with driven dogs.
There are many times I hear dog trainers say things like: "I don't need to use food/toys for my dog to do the behavior", or "Toys as rewards are not really useful because it gets the dog out of focus too much".
-Training WITH drive- means we use the most motivating reward for the dog with the following stipulation: "You can have it if you follow these rules"
These rules don't have to be complex or difficult. They can be simple and easy at first, "You give me eye contact and then you can have the reward". At times simpler than that, meaning, sometimes you have to lure the dog into position.
Some trainers fall into the trap of "you have to do the behavior because I told you to do the behavior". This is definitely necessary in training, I'm not arguing that. But we also want to address the intense desire to do the behavior.
Look, if you're training your pet client to stop pulling, I get it, no big deal. The dog has to know the boundaries and understand the discipline of the behavior. But if you're competing, or doing demos with your dog. You want your dog to look intense, like this obedience exercise is the most fun part of its day.
If you don't want to train in drive, no worries, don't. I'm sure your dogs are very obedient and look equally impressive. Getting your dog to LOVE the exercise however sets you a notch above the rest.
"But what if the dog has no drive?"
Trust me, there is SOMETHING any dog is dying to get from you. You have to get creative sometimes. You may have to try different treats, you may have to withhold a meal AND try different treats. You may have to try different toys, you may have to try different toys and treats. You may have to use juice, broth, etc.
"Not necessary, I don't need it!" You're right! you don't "need" it, it's just nice to have.
"I use praise only!"
Ugh, for f***'s sake! why are you still reading this?
Below I have a video of a friend's dog(Husky) I worked for a few days. The main thing I addressed here was discipline, "Stop Pulling". I used food, but this was mostly a discipline exercise, there's little engagement. In many cases, you will have to start with discipline first.
Jackpots! Jackpots are your friend! If you want the dog to go from "stop pulling" to "I love to follow you", random jackpots will convince him that there's a probability of a high reward.
Discipline along with strong desire is what really paints a nice picture most dog trainers want to see. It's constant pull and push, carrot and stick, but it's certainly fun.