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Non food motivated dog, how to distract?

(9 Posts)
SistersOfPercy Sun 25-Jan-15 16:31:38

Murphy has no interest in food whatsoever. It's very strange to see actually. He'll have a bonio, take a bite, leave it for a few hours, have another bite etc. He'll leave the floor covered in crumbs. He turns his nose up at treats and can sometimes go 24 hours without eating if he doesn't fancy his tea.

I took him to see the vet yesterday for his annual boosters and check up and she confirmed he was fit, well and a perfect weight. She explained that Murph was toy motivated rather than food which was like someone turning on a lightbulb with me. He loves his toys.

Now, on to my problem. He's 14 months now so still a youngster really and still learning. At home I'm now training and offering play as a reward rather than food and thats working brilliantly, he's a smart little thing and can be very quick to learn when he wants to, but out of the house he has no interest in toys either. This means distracting him when he's not behaving himself (for example he's recently decided he doesn't like people in hi vis jackets!) is difficult.

Am I likely to have more success with a 'forbidden' treat like a chip, piece of sausage etc? My vet mentioned a clicker but I'm unsure how that would work with him out of the house on a walk.
Any tips?

YouveCatToBeKittenMe Sun 25-Jan-15 16:37:45

I had a Springer like this. Not interested in anything when he was out. I did used to use sausage as a treat but even that wouldn't distract him in some situations. I learnt that I would have to predict when he might run off on a 2 hour jolly become distracted and either call him back first or just avoid it.
He was a lovely dog though and didn't jump on people much.
That's probably not much help. My current dog is so much easier. Completely obsessed by a ball and not the least bit interested in other dogs or people.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 25-Jan-15 16:42:46

I have a non dog treat motivated dog. I use a Tupperware box full of tiny bits of cheap ham and cheese. He loves that.

Also my dog trainer says a lot of non food motivated dogs have too much access to food.. So make sure you're not leaving his food down for ages. I'm guilty of this. They do get into the habit of eating it quicker if they think the bowl will only be down for ten mins.

The idea of the clicker is that you click as soon as the dog does something you want him to do. Then you treat. Otherwise if you just treat by the time you've fumbled around and got the treat he's forgotten what he's been treated for.

So I got mine used to the clicker at home. You start off just by clicking and treating not for any behaviour. So he associates the click with a treAt. Then move onto getting him to sit or stay or whatever. He does what he's asked to do, click and treat. You use the treat to get him to do the behaviour. So for sit you hold the treat by his nose and then edge it back to the top of his head. He should put his nose up and bring his bum down.

SistersOfPercy Sun 25-Jan-15 16:52:59

Viva, one of the first things I thought of was his access to food so his tea stays down for an hour max and then it's up again until the next day. The only food related thing he seems to get mildly excited by is his kong and he loves playing with that when its empty as well.

If I use the clicker to a toy rather than a treat would that work? Click and throw his Wubba for example? His obedience is pretty good, he sits, stays, comes, fetches post etc. It's just when out I can't distract. I've tried taking his wubba out but he's disinterested out of the house.

Cat fortunately he's pretty laid back but it's all very odd to me. My late dogs would have run over hot coals for a crumb off a gravy bone!

muttynutty Sun 25-Jan-15 16:56:36

A dog that will work for toys is a fantastic dog to have. I work for hours on my dogs to transfer food motivated dogs to become toy motivated

A toy orientated dog will always get a bigger reward than a food orientated dog. One bit of sausage and the reward has gone, a good game of tuggy and the reward is longer and therefore more rewarding and then you will have a dog desperate to get that game.

You will however have to work hard to get your dog to play around distractions. Gently increase the distractions around your dog when you play. So get a game he loves indoors and play it in the garden, then play when the DC's are running around. I am the sad lady that is playing tuggy in the supermarket car park, also in the local park, or by a busy road (of course this is all done safely etc), next to the the local football game, by the tennis courts etc.

Start along way from the distraction and then move nearer as and when your dog can deal with it.

A bit of time and effort now and you will have such a strong bond with your dog through this play .

SistersOfPercy Sun 25-Jan-15 17:00:29

Makes sense mutty, thank you.
Not sure why he's suddenly taken against people in hi vis but massive thanks to the lovely road worker who came over to say hello to him and gain his trust.

Looks like Tesco car park and a wubba this week then! I took on board what the vet said yesterday and it did all become clear. Last night I threw his toy in praise and he was over the moon about it, much happier than me offering him a treat he didn't really want.

He made me laugh earlier though, he's not keen on the hoover and when I came into the living room he'd gathered the few toys that were on the rug and moved them to the sofa out of the way of the hoover grin

muttynutty Sun 25-Jan-15 17:10:57

smile bright dog - don't want the hoover stealing his toys

Do try to encourage tug or pull games as well as retrieve as the dogs will associate that very much with you - this will make you the most rewarding person to be around.

Do you have a hi viz jacket yourself? - if so put it in the house and let him get used to it - put it on when you are playing etc

He sounds fab

basildonbond Sun 25-Jan-15 17:17:30

Ddog will work for food but he's always much more motivated by toys. Food is useful for times when I want to encourage calm behaviour like lying quietly in his bed as he'd get too excited if I produced a toy then but if he's learning something new or when we're out and about its toys all the way. When we first started I needed to use something really high value - squeaky tennis balls top his toy hierarchy - but now I like mixing things up so he's never sure what it's going to be. His face lights up at the sight of a toy whereas food is just accepted iyswim

SistersOfPercy Sun 25-Jan-15 17:20:09

He is very quick to learn mutty, which for his breed (Scottish Terrier) is unusual, they are normally quite stubborn but he is incredibly smart. The thing which fascinates me is we have a CCTV system that runs through the TV. He's worked out that the image on the TV relates to outside. If he sees a dog etc on the CCTV he knows to go and look out of the window to see it. But if he sees a dog on a normal TV program he knows that it doesn't relate to outside and won't bother looking. I find this utterly fascinating, especially as my last dogs had no interest in what was going on via the TV at all, let alone being able to associate it with outside.

I do have a hi viz actually, never thought of that! I'm beginning to think this could be the outlet to train him to do a few more things as he seems to love doing it. grin

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