Dog Not Food or Toy Motivated – Reasons & Solutions

There could be many reasons why your dog is not food or toy motivated, and understanding these reasons will help you find a solution to the problem.

Having a dog that isn’t food or toy motivated is not fun for any dog owner. Since it’s such a common issue, I decided to write an article on how to change this behavior.

This is easier said than done as there are many factors to take into consideration when doing this, but with the right approach, you will be able to turn your dog into a more food or toy motivated dog in no time.

9 Reasons for this behavior

1. Your dog is simply spoiled:

This is probably the most common reason for not having a food or toy motivated dog, and it’s also one of the easiest to solve since it only takes simple steps to change this issue.

This is why you must make sure that your dog receives the right amount of physical and mental stimulation throughout the day so he’s not simply lazy.

2. You teach your dog to ignore food around him all the time:

This is a big problem with normal everyday life, where a dog will starve himself if you don’t give him enough food every day.

This is not ideal, but it’s something that many dogs do because they don’t want attention from you.

If your dog doesn’t want to eat when he sees other people coming into the room with food for him, then it’s important to check if there is a possibility that there could be another reason for this behavior besides just ignoring the fact that someone is feeding him.

3. Your dog just doesn’t find the treat or toy rewarding enough:

This can be a big issue and is usually best solved by switching to a more interesting type of treat or toy.

4. You don’t reward your dog often enough:

There is no point in having a food or toy motivated dog if there is no way to train him using food or toys as rewards.

A good thing to do here is to practice “training” without using food and toys before making it necessary for your dog to be interested in them, but if this method doesn’t work then it’s time for you to simply practice using treats and toys when training your dog because this should become a bigger part of each training session.

5. You are offering your dogs too much food at once:

This is one of the most common reasons for not motivating your dog in using treats or toys, which is why you should absolutely prevent this from happening as often as possible.

6. You don’t have a game plan when using treats or toys as rewards:

If you have no idea what to expect from your dog when he receives a treat or a toy, then it’s almost impossible to use them in training.

You need to be able to train using all sorts of different rewards before deciding which type of reward will be best for each situation.

7. Your dog gets attention from other people when he doesn’t respond to you when you offer a treat or a toy as a reward for something he does, so he no longer thinks that the treat or toy is rewarding enough to get his attention:

This is a very common issue to encounter.

If your dog has learned that there are treats and toys available for him elsewhere, then you need to make sure that you protect your dog from getting too much external food as well as toys so that he will continue to see these rewards as more interesting than the ones offered by others.

8. Your dog doesn’t want a piece of the food or toy that he fed you:

This issue is also very common and will happen if you don’t give your dog enough toys to play with in the first place.

The reason why this happens is that dogs are generally used to playing with their owner, and so they will no longer be interested in toys they can play with on their own.

If you encounter this problem you need to start getting other people involved in playing with your dog more often (but not too often) as well as making sure that you play with him more often on your own.

9. Your dog is afraid of the other people in the room when you offer him a treat, so he’s not interested anymore:

I have to admit that this one is not as common, but it does happen.

If your dog gets too much attention from other people while he’s playing with a toy or eating a treat, then he’ll stop being interested in receiving anything.

This is why it’s best to limit these types of “attentions” to only when required by training or socializing purposes.

Now that you know how some of the most common reasons for not motivating your dog in using food and toys, now I will show you some things that can be done to solve these issues.

10 Ways to Resolve the situation

Step 1: Limit the amount of food and toys that your dog receives during training sessions.

If your dog needs to eat his food or toys as rewards, then make sure you give him less than what he usually gets.

After the session is over, give him only a small amount, and then repeat for the next session. If you can do this for a week or two at least, then you should start seeing some positive results.

Step 2: Take away treats and toys from places where they’re being offered all the time.

If there’s someone in the room offering treats or toys all the time, then remove them from those areas so that your dog doesn’t get too much of them anymore.

Step 3: Increase the amount of food and toys that you give your dog so that he’ll learn to get more of them as rewards.

If you still can’t get him motivated in using treats and toys, then start increasing the amount of each as well, but make sure you don’t do this until he starts being more interested in getting them again.

Step 4: Increase the number of people who play with your dog when they come into the room.

If there are other people who offer treats or toys for him all the time, then make sure you introduce other people to your dog so that he’ll start getting less attention from them when they’re trying to give him something.

Step 5: Increase the time that you play with your dog.

If the only thing he’s interested in when he hears “play” is food or toys, then increase the length of time that you play with him.

Step 6: Always leave treats and toys in places where they are most likely to be offered to your dog while training or socializing.

This is something that’s especially important if there are other people in the room who always offer them for him.

Also, it will be a good idea to provide treats and toys for your dog on their own (but not too much) so that they’ll become more interesting again.

Step 7: Remove negative stimuli from the dog’s surroundings.

If he’s too hungry, then you should not give him any food or toys at all.

If there are other people in the room who always offer treats and toys for him, then it is important to avoid all “accidents” that could cause them to stop offering them.

Also, if your dog is experiencing any physical pain, then you should also avoid giving him anything as a reward when training as well as socializing.

Step 8: Learn how to communicate with your dog in order to understand what he wants.

If your dog is not motivated to use food and toys as rewards, then there’s most likely something that you’re doing wrong.

If you fail to offer him enough food or toys at the right time during training sessions or socializing, then stop doing that until he starts receiving rewards again.

Step 9: Make sure that your dog has enough toys and fun things available for him when he plays with others.

If you’re having other people over to your house to play with your dog, then make sure that there are enough toys and things for him to do around when he’s playing with them.

Step 10: Make sure that you don’t offer treats or toys as rewards when playing with your dog or training him until he stops being motivated to get them.

This tip is especially important if you’re not planning on using food or toys at all during the training process.

Final Thoughts

Training your dog to use food and toys as rewards for him is a great thing because of how it can improve his overall attitude towards them.

The methods I have outlined above will work for most dogs, but each individual dog is different.

If you follow along with the techniques I’ve outlined above, then you should start seeing some positive results in no time.


American Kennel Club

Humane Society


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