Want a happy and obedient dog? Expert reveals the one training method you want to steer clear of

Woman giving her dog a high five at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the past, deprivation was often used in dog training, and it still is in some cases.

However, it’s not a good method of training, as it won’t leave your pup feeling happy, safe, and comfortable. If you’re struggling with training, deprivation is not the answer — there are plenty of other things you can try instead, even something as simple as playing with the best dog toys!

In a recent Instagram post, the experts at Happy Dogs Training — led by founder and owner Piper M Novick — have explained why you should avoid deprivation, for better results and, most importantly, for your dog’s happiness. 

First of all, what exactly is deprivation? According to the experts, “Deprivation is the intentional act of withholding a needed resource in order to increase the animal’s desire to obtain such resource.”

It’s often used in the context of food, but all animals are food-motivated to begin with. Food is a primary reinforcer — primary reinforcement is a naturally occurring reaction to a stimulus. This reaction is innate, which makes sense when you consider that animals need food to survive. 

So, if your dog doesn’t seem to have a high food drive, rather than opting for deprivation, it’s much better to work with a qualified trainer who doesn’t consider methods like this one, and considers instead why your pup isn’t as interested in food.

You might be overfeeding your dog without realizing it, or perhaps your dog is stressed or confused. It might be that the environment your dog is in is too challenging for them, or that your treats just aren’t valuable enough — training dogs with treats can be really effective, but are you using treats that your pup considers to be high-value? 

Or, your pup may have a health problem you aren’t aware of, so a trip to the vet could be a good idea to rule out any issues. If you’re asking questions like ‘Is my dog sick?’, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

As the experts say, “When a dog refuses food, there’s usually a reason. We should look deeper to rule out any issues and make adjustments to our training plan to ensure we are setting our dogs up for success and using reinforcement effectively.”

Positive reinforcement is always best when it comes to training our pups – here’s the science behind positive reinforcement for dogs. Choose it over deprivation, and remember: if your dog doesn’t seem to have a high food drive, there’s a reason why!

West Paw Toppl Dog Toy 
$23.96 from Chewy

West Paw Toppl Dog Toy
$23.96 from Chewy
A treat dispensing puzzle that can be filled with kibble, peanut butter, cheese chunks or smashed banana, this toy is ideal for giving your dog's brain a good workout. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at DogTime.com, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.