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Is food for rewards during gundog training neccessary?

Jackie Drakeford
Praise rewards some dogs, but a great many more are indifferent to it.

There has to be a great bond between dog and handler if praise is to be a motivator, and this bond usually has to be built deliberately.

We need to be our dogs’ “safe place”, decision maker and fun provider; simply giving board and lodgings isn’t enough.

Some people have a knack for bonding with their dogs and yet there is little to see — they do the right things instinctively and almost invisibly.

In such relationships, the dog is made joyful by its handler’s expressions of pleasure towards it, and so chooses to increase its own psychological rewards by doing the things that please its handler.

Conversely, many dogs enjoy their work but are mildly detached from their owners, or else have not yet built that trust in them that precedes forming the bond.

Food is, therefore, a better reward for them at this stage.

Not all dogs find food rewarding either, and in that instance we have to find other ways of motivating them.

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