Can a Dog be TOO Food Motivated?

We packed up our stuff and I walked Lola outside to the car, both of our feet crunching down the ice and snow in the parking lot. Lola hopped in the back and I sat in the front seat. I was disappointed. I was somewhat disappointed in myself and in Lola.

Can a dog be too food motivated?!

Lola and I had just left a photo shoot, Lola was one of the (dog) models. The photographer was the one handling her (may have also contributed) and she brought out HAM and CHEESE! I'm sure Lola was thinking, "Wow! This is awesome...". And then everything went down hill. She started losing focus, trying to sniff out that bowl of ham and became very anxious to receive the reward. She held her 'sit-stay' for about a minute and then began to lose focus yet again - becoming a little too interested in that strong aroma coming out of that bowl! This was not normal and I couldn't help but begin to think:

Can a dog value food too much so that it begins to negatively effect your results when training? Can they begin to lose focus if they are too interested in the reward and not performing what you are asking of them?

Which brought me to the question I was continuously asking myself, can this be the result of a dog being too food motivated?

Have you ever ran into this issue with a dog?

I'm discussing this topic along with advice and explanation from an expert - continue reading on the Lola the Pitty blog.


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Positively Expert: Sarah Lukemire

Sarah Lukemire is a pet blogger at LolaThePitty.com, where she is raising positive awareness and fighting the negative stereotypes associated with pit bull type dogs, networking bully breed dogs in need of adoption rescue, as well as sharing recipes and tips for dog owners. Her mission is to change the perception of bully breeds.


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  • TheModernDogTrainer

    Great article! This is something I find challenging with my dogs. One in particular is too food motivated. When food is in the equation, his brain goes 100 miles a minute. We work on relaxation constantly.

  • Monika

    My Suri have big problems with focus when reward have a stroong smell, sometimes she even forget about everything else, its just this reward in her head, like difrent dimension where is only her and her reward ;]

  • I think that concluding your dog is "too" food motivated would have to be based on a wider variety of situations. My immediate reaction to your disappointment with the photo shoot, was that your dog wasn't set up to have a success because you were removed from the equation. Dogs can learn in very context-specific ways, so If your dog associates performing his obedience cues with having *you* as his handler, then it's possible that having someone else handle him will 'short-circuit' his obedience cue skills because now he has been placed in a completely new context. Rather than the photographer's food rewards being the cause of your dog's impulsive behaviour, they could have simply exacerbated the situation. Just a thought. 🙂

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