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Are food rewards bribery?

The use of food in dog training is sometimes brandished ‘bribery’; making the dog “work” for food at the trainer’s power hungry discretion and in fear of unwanted behaviours returning once the food or treats stop.

In actual fact, there is scientific principle behind the method of reward based dog training. Food not only enhances a dog’s ability to learn but also overcome fear and anxiety by increasing dopamine in the brain and stimulating the desire to seek or move towards the food reward. 

"Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in reward-driven learning and helps regulate movement and emotional responses."

Victoria Stilwell uses the following example:

"Imagine you arrived at work tomorrow and were called into your boss’ office. You like your job and are generally quite good at it. Your boss praises you for your good work and tells you how glad he is to have you on the team, and then informs you that as of that moment, you will no longer receive a salary. When you ask why, he simply states that you should be glad to work for him because he is in charge and you are not, and that that should be enough for you.  Would you put up with those terms? Everyone needs some kind of motivation to work and learn – even dogs!"


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