Handsome Dan's favorite treat

Handsome Dan the Vicktory dog, a former Michael Vick fighting dog, is not motivated by treats, but he does love something strange: ice chips or cubes!
By David Dickson

One of the most exciting moments in a dog trainer’s day is when he or she discovers a dog is motivated by treats. "They’re mine…" the trainers then say, often with a mischievous grin spreading across their face. Treat drive is huge in the training process, whether it’s teaching basic obedience or even fancy shmancy tricks. It’s a really neat and easy way to connect with the animal and to show them when they’re doing the right thing.

Dogs unmotivated by treats

Still, strange though this may seem, not all animals are motivated by treats. Handsome Dan, one of the dogs rescued from the property of former NFL quarterback, Michael Vick, was one of those. Oh, he’d take a treat now and again. But as often as not he’d spit it out sideways when you weren’t looking. He was a tough customer to be sure.

And yet the Best Friends staffers working with him might just have stumbled onto his own little form of kryptonite. The one thing he can’t resist. Ice chips!

Introducing the Vicktory dogs to new things

In an ongoing effort to keep showing the Vicktory dogs new and interesting things, which includes everything from car rides to live flute music, the caregivers decided to pass around ice chips one afternoon. A lot of the dogs stared at the strange foreign objects with obvious distrust. Others licked tentatively and figured they weren’t worth the time. Some dogs, though, tried chewing them and really seemed to like the ice chips.

Handsome Dan's discovery

Handsome Dan was in a group all his own. The cold, flavorless ice chips or cubes might as well have been a family-sized gooey cheese pizza. Talk about enthusiasm! Maybe he just thought they were fun to chew? Either way, the caregivers intend to keep trying ice chips to see if they can use them as a training tool for him. If they can pull it off, at least here’s one dog who won’t have to worry about staying cool this summer! Wonder how he’d feel about a Snoopy snow cone machine as an early birthday present?

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Photo by Gary Kalpakoff