UT Pet School: Grazing Game™. Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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keep dogs busy grazing gamesThis is an excerpt from Linda’s book, Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual, available to download here.
The easiest, scientifically endorsed methods to train and socialize your dog involve food. If we couldn’t go to the grocery store and bring home bags of groceries, we would be asking, “Who’s got the food? What can I do for the people who have the food?” Use your dog’s ration of food calories to train basic skills and to help your dog overcome socialization difficulties. Food can be used as a reward, to enhance emotional connections, and to dispel fear. It can effectively focus, redirect, distract, and calm a hyperactive, fearful, or noise-phobic dog, and safely treat all types of aggression. Dogs are born scavengers. Setting up grazing opportunities gives your dog a dog-job that he enjoys and that keeps him out of trouble. Here are some of my favorite Grazing Games

Scatter breakfast and/or dinner. There’s no need to feed from a bowl. That’s something humans, not dogs, like to do. Your dog will find every last piece of premium-quality kibble you’ve thrown out on the patio, walkway, or lawn while you read the newspaper and have your coffee.

Use food to change emotions. Desensitize a fear of the car, location, noise, person, or other dog by scattering high-value food, paired with a low-intensity version of the feared stimulus.

Greeting protocol/redirect doorbell barking. Upon hearing the doorbell, redirect your dog from running to the front door and barking, to running to the back door and out into the yard where you routinely scatter treats all over the patio, walkways, or lawn. While your dog is busy, go answer the door. Let your dog inside when calm.

Separation anxiety/housetraining. Pet parents often mistake a separation anxiety issue for a housetraining problem. If you suspect your dog may be afraid to go outside without you, scatter kibble for grazing in the yard but avoid the dog’s elimination area.

Housetraining accidents. Scatter treats over thoroughly cleaned urination and defection areas. Dogs don’t like to eliminate where they eat.

Marking. Scatter treats on thoroughly-cleaned, previously marked areas to help eliminate marking. Dogs don’t like to eat where they’ve eliminated and vice versa. Also scatter treats on any new or novel items brought into the home to prevent marking.

Crate training. Scatter food over the floor of the crate to diffuse fearfulness.

Environmental enhancement. Grazing makes any environment feel safer and more interesting.

Animal behavior icons from Skinner to Pavlov, and progressive zoos worldwide, control very large and potentially dangerous animals by using the power of food judiciously and wisely. Your dog is easy to control by comparison!

Originally published in the UT San Diego.


Learn more about pet parent problem-solving, teaching classes, and private consultations in the Do No Harm Dog Training Manual.

Dog Training Manual Do No Harm Force Free Positive tranier san diego del marThe Do No Harm™ Dog Training Manual was designed as my own personal guide for teaching basic manners classes, and evolved into a reference manual for my private behavior consultations. Created as a practical guide for either or both training formats, it is also helpful for pet parents who want an inside look at dog training and behavior, as well as for those who seek force-free solutions for specific problems. Written with love for the “heartbeats at our feet”. You can purchase and download the PDF ebook dog training manual here.

Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” M.A./Psychology a Top Ten Rated U.S. Dog Trainer — Del Mar Dog Training, may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by email: LindaPositively@gmail.com for private manners/obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us at DogPsychologistOnCall.com  All rights reserved.


Linda Michaels, M.A. Psychology, Del Mar Dog Training, serves clients in Del Mar and San Diego County from La Jolla to Carlsbad, plus Rancho Santa Fe, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Linda Michaels was recently rated one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States, by Top Ten Magazine. Linda has a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology (Hons), and is the creator of the Hierarchy of Dog Needs™ (HDN). She focuses on the psychological aspects of dog behavior that often mirror human psychological conditions, such as: fear, separation/attachment disorders, and aggression toward humans and other dogs. She also teaches private, customized basic manners/obedience lessons for dogs of all ages and every breed.

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