Motivation is one of the most important factors in dog training. To generate motivation, people use various reinforcer mechanisms. In particular, many pet owners use food because it is simple and convenient. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between dogs' level of interest in food and their responsiveness to commands. Thirty-four dogs were divided into three groups based on their feeding patterns (Fast, Slow, and Leftover). The fast group (n=15) had the highest interest in food and showed a high response to commands when food was used as a reinforcer, rather than praise/stroking. The leftover group (n=6) showed the least interest in food and had a low reaction to commands, regardless of the reinforcer. In contrast, the slow group (n=13) had modest interest in food and maintained the same response to commands regardless of the reinforcer. Results of this study indicate that dogs' feeding patterns are indicative of their level of interest in food, and may be useful in determining the optimal training reinforcer. This can help dog owners improve their relationships with their dogs.
2009 by the Japanese Society of Veterinary Science