I am going to help you pick out healthy treats for training your dog and how to use treats effectively for both their benefit and yours.
Should you use food treats or not?
Some people have said that using food treats is deceptive and that the dog will get the wrong idea. However, most would agree with me in that this is, indeed, the best form of reward your dog will recognize in the beginning. Of course, there are slight precautions to take when using food as a reward and I will explain that further on. Your dog will recognize several forms of reward for a job or task well done. These can be anything from a pat or scratch on the head, a brisk but gentle hug to a quick game of fetch. These rewards will help form that special bond between you and your dog. I feel though that food treats will get a greater response and help your dog accomplish the tasks much faster.
Food treats – store bought or household?
Household treats can be anything from carrots, cut up hot dog, small pieces of cooked chicken to pieces of ham or even cheese cubes. Store bought treats vary so greatly from regular dog biscuits, in many flavors, to branded treats from Nutrish and Blue Buffalo and many others out there. Both will work just fine.
Bribery versus reward – how to use treats
Bribery is when you let the dog know beforehand that you have a treat for him. Sure, he may perform the command, but only to get what he knows you have, the treat, and not for the command itself. He will only obey the command because he sees the treat. Now, by keeping the treats in a pocket or fanny pouch, he doesn’t know right off that there is a reward for performing the command. It will be harder to train them for the command by showing them the treat first because all he wants is the treat. If you don’t show it to them prior, they will, more likely, learn the command for what it is rather than for the treat. It will also be harder to wean them off the treats, which you will eventually want to do. Let’s say you want to use playing fetch with his favorite toy as a reward during the training session, you do not want to play too long or it will be harder to get his mind back on training. You can alternate the treats with the games as reward if you want. This will also help, in that, his treats should not exceed ten percent of his daily food intake or he will have a weight issue later on. This is another reason why you will eventually want to wean him off the treats as well.
Size of the treat – Does it matter?
It really does matter and here is why. You will want to use smaller treats because not only will the dog get the taste, but also chew it and swallow it faster. This also makes the digestion easier too. You will notice that if you use store bought training treats, they come in small chunks. The same holds true if you use household food for the treats, the meats should be cut into smaller pieces and, if you use veggies or even pieces of fruit, they should also be small and quick to chew. You can use string beans, broccoli florets or baby carrots. It should follow naturally, that the smaller the dog or breed, the smaller the pieces. Also, make sure they have plenty of water as this will not only aid in the digestion, but your dog will surely want it after a good session and workout.
Hopefully, here, I have given you some information on some healthy treats and other ways to reward your dog during training periods. These will work especially well as a puppy, when his brain is still developing, but also as an adult dog as well. Yes, an adult dog is not completely out of the picture or realm of training. I have helped to train an adult German shepherd using these techniques with great success. Make sure his treats are healthy and used to reward, not bribe, and you will end up with a very obedient and appreciative pooch. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to submit them.