How to Train a Dog That’s Not Food Motivated

Training a dog that is picky about food can be a bit challenging. All dogs are motivated by food at some level since they need it to live but some dogs may not accept food reliably as training rewards. However, there are alternative methods and techniques you can use to train your dog without using treats as the primary motivator.

Take Jewel the Husky, she was here for board & train and one of her struggles was focusing enough to take treats in new environments. Watch how we use alternative methods to keep her engaged with training when even chicken and
cheese treats weren’t always enough!


Jewel is here for board & train and one of her struggles is focusing enough to take treats in new environments! Watch how we use alternative methods to keep her engaged with training when high value treats aren’t always enough. #puppytraining #dogtraining #puppytrainingtips #dogtrainingtips #huskypuppy #huskylife #husky #verobeach #treasurecoast #fyp #foryou

♬ Afrobeat – FASSounds

How to Train a Dog With No Food Drive

In Jewel’s case, she enjoys exploring her environment far more than receiving treats or praise. We have to find out what she responds to most. You’ll see in the video that when she responds to her recall cue “touch”, as a reward she was allowed to go for a quick zoom to the grass for a good sniff. When we want her back in the training space, we make it equally as fun by using the same quick movement. When asked for “touch” again, Jewel responds nicely so we reward with a tossed treat so she can chase it. She finds this much more engaging and fun. Using a combination of movement, treats and sniffing was the key to training success.

Alternative Dog Training Methods

Some other great dog training methods to consider are:Some other great dog training rewards to consider are:

Use Toys as Rewards

Some dogs are more motivated by play than food. Find a toy that your dog loves, and use it as a reward during training sessions. Just make sure your dog knows how to drop it on cue!

Environmental Rewards

Allow your dog access to things they enjoy as a reward. For example, a short playtime in the yard or access to a favorite mailbox to sniff can serve as motivation.

Interactive Playtime

Leverage your dog’s natural instincts. For example, if your dog enjoys fetching, use a short game of fetch as a reward.

Verbal Praise and Affection

Many dogs respond well to verbal praise and physical affection. Use a cheerful and encouraging tone when praising your dog for good behavior. Just remember this may not be as valuable of a reward in high distraction or challenging

Remember to Keep Training Sessions Short and Fun

eep training sessions short and enjoyable to prevent boredom. This will help maintain your dog’s interest and engagement.

Be Patient and Consistent:

Consistency is key in dog training. Be patient and consistent in your approach, and your dog will start to understand what is expected and give you more of what you want.

Alternative Dog Training Methods to Using Treats

How to Train a Dog That’s Not Food Motivated

If you’re not sure how to identify which training method could work for your pup, we can help. We train humans as well as puppies. Our Treasure Coast Puppy Trainers can help you feel more confident in training your dog using a variety of methods. For a free consultation, simply book here.