Step one for low-food motivation dogs
Now, just because we’re going beyond the advice of “just use better treats,” it doesn’t mean that’s bad advice.
Using better treats is step one.
But that advice can be confusing; people often think they’re using better treats when they’re not. So we ARE going to talk about it real quick before we move on.
The advice I’m about to give you solves about 70% of the food motivation issues our clients and students run into.
The treat you should use
Real chicken. Get a package of whatever chicken is on sale at the grocery store, roast it in your oven, then chop it into little pieces. (Making sure to remove any bones, of course)
And voilà! You have a big pile of cost-effective, healthy, high-value dog treats.
We give this advice a lot, but not everyone follows it at first. Which I get – it probably feels too easy.
And I can also understand why some people might hesitate to do the chicken thing. You’re a brand new puppy owner, excited to buy puppy things, and those cute little bags of treats at the pet store are much more appealing than buying a boring package of raw meat at the supermarket.
But really, chicken is the secret weapon. Most dogs love it. It’s nutritious. It’s mild enough that it rarely causes stomach upsets. And since chicken is one of the most common pet food ingredients, there’s a good chance your dog is already eating chicken in their regular food, so their system is used to it.
And speaking of those cute little bags of puppy treats…
Stop buying dog treats
I know, I know. They’re tempting. Sometimes I get suckered by them, too.
But if your dog has food motivation issues, the treats that you buy at the pet shop are a no go. You’re paying too much money for a less effective product. This goes for everything from the Milk Bones and Pupperoni that every Walmart in America sells, all the way to fancy expensive boutique dog treats.
I don’t care what celebrity chef or dog guru endorses it…
Or how many wolves are on the package…
Or how much real meat the label says it contains…
It’s not going to be as effective as going to the grocery store and getting chicken.
You don’t have to go searching for the perfect bag of free-range human-grade grass-fed unicorn jerky bites that you’d have to take on a whole new side hustle to afford.
You know what else is human grade? Chicken from the grocery store!
Now yes, things CAN get more complex. Some dogs are allergic to chicken, for instance. But I specifically promised not to harp on the better treats thing for too long, so we’re skipping the complexity. We can chat about that in the forums, if you’d like.
But my point is: the first step in your troubleshooting journey is to go to the grocery store, get chicken. Then come back and tell me if it didn’t work.
Okay, now it’s time to go into the beyond!