Your Dog Prefers to Work for Food. Here’s the Proof!

Rondo gets food from his Premier Twist 'n' Treat

Work to Eat: The Foundation of our Training

If you’re familiar with Service Dog Academy’s training program, you know we can’t express enough how much we love work-to-eat puzzles. For puppies and adult dogs, and even older dog training, Service Dog Academy’s work to eat program creates more than just a smarter dog, but a happy one, too! At our Seattle dog training classes, we preach the work-to-eat strategy for many good reasons, but one scientific study found that animals actually prefer to work for their food!

In the 1960’s Glen Jensen discovered that when given the choice between free food laid out in a dish, or performing a task to receive bits of food at a time, most animals chose the latter. Using 200 albino rats, Jensen gave the rats a regular feeding time for 10 straight days. On the 11th day, Jensen didn’t show up with food and the rats were ravenous.

When they paced their cages in a state of hunger and desperation, they accidentally bumped into a feeding tube. When this happened, food pellets came out. Over time, they learned that all they had to do was push a lever and would automatically get fed. When they got used to this process, they were given a choice. Both a cup of free food, and access to the lever. Contrary to what most might think about such small-brained animals, the rats chose the feeding lever!

Later experiments showed that this worked on most animals from fish, to gerbils, to monkeys. The only lazy ones in the bunch, Jensen found, were cats. You can read the full article here.

Manage your Dog’s Boredom, and Get a Smarter Pup

Service Dog Academy’s positive reinforcement training methods are set in creating an environment for your dog where nothing in life is free. Hold a sit for 5-seconds and get some food; shake on command, more food, and many other ways to create a real life work-to-eat strategy. Puzzles, and positive reinforcement training are a great way for your pup to manage his frustration tolerance, boredom, and create an improvisational dog, a thinking dog. Positive reinforcement training, and puzzles like the Premier “Linkable” or the Kong, are also the foundation to Service Dog Academy’s groundbreaking diabetic alert service dog training program. Follow the link to learn how to make a quick and easy toy that feeds your dog, and occupies his brain and nose at the same time, the Kongsicle!

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