There are many important things to consider when owning a dog, starting with what to feed them with, and to this end, you may have read plenty about the subject, including Nature’s Recipe dog food reviews, and ending with how often you’re supposed to take them on walks. Another factor of major importance is training, and specifically, how to do so. A great and efficient approach to this issue is using treats. The key, however, is that it has to be done correctly. Let’s see how you can do that.
Ways to Use Treats
Lure with Treats
Treats can be especially useful when used to lure the dog to perform the wanted behavior. A terrific example of this is teaching your dog to sit by holding the treat close to their nose, and then moving it back over their head, as slowly as possible. Two other examples of behavior for which treats can be used to lure dogs are rollover and down.
Give Them as Rewards
Another great use for treats is rewarding, as a way of showing that they got it right. In the above example, if your dog sits after you lure them, give them the treat the very second they do it. You can use rewarding for any kind of behavior you like and want to see more of. For instance, if they welcome someone calmly, without barking, give them a treat.
Don’t Make the Treat Part of the Cue
While luring is incredibly useful for helping a pooch understand what it is you want from them, if you use it too much, you risk making the dog believe that the treat is, in fact, part of the cue. With that in mind, make sure that you don’t use it more than a few times in the beginning. Then, start making the luring gesture, only with an empty hand, and give the treat with the other. After a while, you’ll be able to gradually change the movement you used for luring them into another movement, that you’ll use as a cue from then on.
What Makes a Good Treat?
When training, you’re going to give your pup a great deal of treats, which is why it’s crucial to ensure that they are small and easy to eat. If you give them something big, they will have to stop and spend quite a large amount of time chewing, which means that they will lose their focus, and completely forget what they got rewarded for. Think soft and small (around pea-sized), and you’re good to go.
Well, if you’re going to use treats as motivators, of course they have to be tasty. Here’s the catch though: it has to be tasty to them. It doesn’t matter how delicious a treat is to another dog, or how great you think they are, if your dog doesn’t like it, they’re not going to respond to it. This means you won’t have a very productive training session.
Since this is so incredibly subjective, all you’re left to do is try out different treats until you find something that motivates them. Be sure to find more than one.
Mix Things Up
As mentioned above, you’re going to need a few different treats. This is important for two reasons. First off, if you’ll give the same kind of treat over and over, chances are, your dog is going to get incredibly bored with them. Second, you’ll want something that’s high and something that’s low in value, to compensate for the environment and your dog’s level of excitement. For instance, when you’re training at home, kibble may work wonders, but in the park, where there are plenty of distractions, you’re going to need something a bit better.
Phasing the Treats Out
Using treats is a great way of helping your dog understand what you want from them. However, you probably don’t want your dog to only do what you ask them to if treats are given.
On the other hand, after your little one has figured things out, you shouldn’t abruptly stop giving them delicious treats. That’s because when the rewards become unpredictable, animals tend to work harder for them.
Your goal here is to slowly stop giving them treats. For that, begin by reducing not only the frequency, but also the value of said treats. Then, start giving them out less and less frequently, until they are phased out completely.
Treats can be an incredibly useful tool in training, but only if used correctly. Make sure to not over-treat your pooch, and to pay close attention to their signals, and you’re going to be on the right path. Of course, make sure you bring your patience along too, since you’ll be needing that.