Dog Treats are something you see in the pet store, online, or hear about them from other dog parents, as well as research which ones to choose yourself. Furthermore, we use them in training to reward great behavior we want from our dog. Knowing which treats to buy and when to use them in training can feel overwhelming, lead to frustration, and feel like their is no way to make improvements with your dog. Therefore, you may be experiencing information overload and just want a simple answer. Furthermore, every dog is different with what treats they like so that can add to the complication. However, I want to break it down into how to use and choose the right treats, so that you avoid making the mistake of just sticking with what you know, and neither your dog or you are happy.
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The goal of training our dog is to reward the great behaviors we see and want from them with praise and treats. These are positive things that let your dog know instantly that we love what he/she is doing. For example, if you work or have a business you expect to get paid on a regular basis to value your great work and time. Would you still work if there was no reward for it? This is one of the reasons I use to explain to dog parents why we need to use treats in our training. I know if you have never used them or have had a bad experience that can lead to a delay or reluctance, but it does not have to be that way. Sometimes dog parents unintentionally just give treats because they can or feel guilt from their dog looking at them which is not going to make treats a successful tool in your training.
Moreover, there are a couple guidelines to remember when using treats in your training to use them correctly and not over use them too. Treats are like a bonus and are not an essential requirement of their dietary needs. Finding the right balance will take consistency and practice to see the long term benefits, but do not give up and remember you are not alone.
Time Your Treats: The treat should be given instantly of the achieved behavior from your dog. Otherwise, your dog may not be able to associate it with his/her response that is being appreciated.
Keep Your Cue Short: Dogs will not understand long sentences. Saying short cues like sit, stay, come, etc. are better to use.
Be Consistent: Everyone involved in the training must say the same cues otherwise your dog will get confused. Instead of getting positive behavior you will have the dog behaving in a completely opposite way. This may get you frustrated and want to give up. Therefore, your dog will not get the right cue which will help neither one of you in making progress. Instead, everyone should decide on what are the easiest cues (words) to use and write them down so no one can forget them.
Come Off The Treats Gradually: Start off with treating your dog four out of five times. Then come down to three, two, and one. Let the treat become an occasional thing. This aspect of dog training is very important to prevent your dog from getting used to treats. This also reduces the chances of the dog getting frustrated once the treats are not being used.
Dog treats are just one of the rewards that a dog parent can give his/her dog to modify the dog’s behavior. However, there are certain guidelines to reminder when choosing the right dog treats to use in your dog training.
Soft: You definitely do not want your dog to keep chewing the treat. If the treat is hard and chewy then your dog’s attention would be more on finishing off the treat, rather then associating it with positive behavior that is being rewarded.
Small: Training treats for dogs should be small so that they can be eaten quickly. Just because you want to reward your dog with something special for a great job, does not mean that it has to be a big treat. This would take away from your dog’s attention and connecting the reward with a positive reaction and disrupt training your dog consistently. Rather, give your dog a couple small treats for a great job.
Colorful: Color is another thing to consider so your dog can see it on the floor or in your hand. I have used treats that were light in my hand and the dog could not see it. Also, some of the floors I have trained dogs can be too dark and a dog may not see them which can impact training as well.
Variety: Having a variety of treats (3 -5 different ones) will keep motivating your dog as he/she will never know which one they will get from you. Having the same treat may lessen the response from your dog when training them. Think of it like this, humans would probably get bored if we had to eat the same meal everyday. Having a variety of dog training treats in a ziplock bag makes it easy to grab them and reward every great behavior from your dog.
Natural: Sometimes dog parents will use leftovers or other human foods that are not good for dogs. Even though your dog may love them, like you do, does not mean you should give them to your dog. Buying store bought treats specifically for dogs is important. Moreover, if you have a dog on a special diet you want to stick with treats that are made specifically for them.
Dog Training treats can serve as a great reward that your dog will understand and can be easily used to modify your dog’s behavior to build a better bond. I hope this post was helpful. If you want to teach your dog how to lay on a mat then my free training, How to Train Your Dog To Lay Peacefully, will show you how to use treats as well. Having a dog that knows to lay on a mat, or on a bed makes life more enjoyable for you especially if you work at home or have people coming over to your house.
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