Besides the Advanced Shaping course I'm taking for continuing education this term, I'm also in a class called "CJ Games," which covers things like working with dogs who can not function without immediate rewards. None of my own dogs have this issue, although it's very common with client dogs -- sometimes they've been through multiple obedience classes and can do fairly advanced behaviors -- but if there's no treat in the hand, it's "Huh? You want me to do what?" It seems to be slighly breed-related, with more independent dogs such as Akitas and some terriers having this more commonly than other dogs. It's a frustrating problem for owners. I've got lots of training tools already up my sleeve for this issue, such as "engagement training" -- but the CJ games promise to add something new!
I'm working Halo in this class, though like I said she can easily work without food rewards, including in the show ring! Part of the "job" of a trainer's dog involves working through coursework with the trainer, so she might as well get started at that! (She just turned 1 year old, BTW.)
This first exercise, Impulse Control Around Food, is proving difficult for her. In fact, Chasing Food/Pattern Games is a training method exactly opposite to this one, and I frequently use it with obedience dogs because it jazzes them up and makes them look fancier. (It's also one of the basic methods to work with dogs who are obsessed with chasing squirrels and the like.)
Halo had some difficulty with this exercise, probably because she's been trained in Chasing Food/Pattern Games. We're going to repeat the exercise until she can keep her body/head more still and shows a little more self-control and restraint. Note that I'm not *commanding* her to Sit or Wait or Leave It. It's an *internal* locus of self-control and restraint that she's learning; not a handler-directed one.