How to Use Treats Properly When Training Your Dog
Although your dog may do things to make you happy, this usually isn’t enough to ensure she’ll learn new commands and tricks at your bidding.
When teaching your dog new commands or treats, you have to remember that she is more likely to do what works for her and benefits her greatly.
As such, if you want your dog to learn to follow your commands and cues, you have to make it rewarding for her to do so.
Most dogs will find verbal and nonverbal praise, such as a pat on your pet’s head or extra cuddles, rewarding enough to learn something or complete an activity. However, if you want to be sure that your pup will do everything you say, offer her food as a reward.
Food taps into an animal’s primal need and instinctive desire. Because of this, it might be the best reward to give to your dog whenever she does something you want her to do.
Tips for Using Food as Rewards for Your Pet
To get the most from using food as rewards when training your dog, follow these tips:
1. Choose the right dog treats.
Getting the right treats from a Dubai pet food store is a must for using edible rewards to award your dog during her training.
Your pup should be the one to decide what treats she finds rewarding – not you. Some dogs like small, crunchy snacks, while others like soft food.
Your job is to figure out which treat your dog will be excited to receive and willing to work hard for.
Get different treats and take note of which excites your pet when she sees or smells it. Usual options include dry kibbles, and semi-moist or freeze-dried treats.
Soft treats often work best during training sessions since your pet won’t need to take a lot of time chewing the food. They are also less likely to crumble and fall on the floor, which can distract your dog from the ongoing activity.
Once you know which treat your dog prefers, you can create levels of treats as her scores during training.
Doing so can help you have an easier time fading the use of treats in training your pet in the future.
2. Use dog treats as lures.
Aside from using dog treats as rewards, you can use them during the initial training stage to lure your pet to do the action or behaviour you want her to do.
For instance, if you want to train your pup to sit on command, hold a treat close to her nose and move it slowly to the top of her head. Most dogs will stick their noses up to follow the food.
And when your dog’s nose goes up, her bottom goes down.
This luring technique also works well on a number of other behaviors and actions, including down and roll over.
3. Don’t go overboard with giving your dog treats.
Overfeeding your dog with treats can lead to obesity. As such, be careful with the amount and frequency with which you reward your pet with food.
This means that you don’t need to feed your pet a handful of kibbles or semi-moist food every time you have to reward her. The best (and healthiest) practice is to give her the smallest treat that she finds gratifying.
Most dogs will already find a small nibble of something as a satisfying reward.
Additionally, when using food as training rewards, don’t forget to reduce the portions you give your pet during regular meal times.
If you maintain the same serving portion or even increase it, your pet will surely gain weight over time. Any additional pounds carried above the recommended amount will be bad for your dog’s health.
4. Give your pet treats randomly during her maintenance training.
Many dog owners think that the training is complete once their pet has learned a command and has gone through the training stage of proofing. Unfortunately, this is not true.
Since dogs are learning a skill and not demonstrating a natural behavior, they will forget it easily if you don’t help them maintain it.
Because of this, you need to give your dog continuous training sessions to help her remember and practice the commands you taught her.
During these sessions, continue using food and verbal and non-verbal rewards to keep your dog motivated.
If you stop giving your pet treats as rewards, your cues might fade away since she might start thinking she won’t get anything for doing a good job.
5. Remember that dog treats work best as rewards, not bribes.
When using treats as rewards, remember that they work best as reinforcement tools, not as bribes.
Keep in mind that rewarding your pet with a treat for a job well done is a form of positive reinforcement. This means giving your dog food after she completes a task.
When you do this regularly, you are reinforcing your pet to demonstrate good behavior.
Using treats as bribes means offering them to your dog after she refuses to perform a behavior. This concept is somewhat similar to the luring technique, which means you can only use this strategy for a short time.
You need to fade out the hand lure technique as soon as possible to prevent it from turning into bribery, which won’t do anything good for you and your dog in the long run.
If you want your pup to remember and demonstrate the behavior and tricks you’re teaching her, be consistent and strategic with giving her treats as rewards.
Also, be generous with giving your canine friend verbal and non-verbal rewards during and after her training.