Whether you’re about to teach a new trick or practice loose leash walking with your pup, it’s important to reward him or her for a job well done. We all expect to be paid for the work we do, and our dogs should be paid as well. Continue reading for five tips to make sure that you’re choosing just the right training treat for your dog.
To get the most out of your training sessions, look for a treat that is small or can easily be broken into smaller pieces so that your dog can eat them quickly and you can move on to the next behavior. Ideally, the treat should be about the size of a pencil eraser. Using small treats also ensures that your pup can get more treats in a session without filling up… or without worrying about
Dogs are like people, they’re all different! Some dogs will be thrilled with any treat you give them while others may be more “selective.” It’s extremely important to discover what treat your dog values above all others. This way, you can use the higher value treats for rewarding the more difficult behaviors you’re teaching, and use the lower value treats for easier tasks.
To find out what your dog loves, select six or eight treats and place them in a row, each one about a foot away from the other, in a straight line. Bring your dog perpendicular to the row of treats and let them go. See which treat they eat first, second, all the way to the last treat. Then with your dog out of sight, put the treats out again, in a different order. Bring your dog back in and repeat the process. Do this exercise half a dozen times (or more if you’re both having fun), and when finished you will know which treat your dog values the most!
Although an occasional piece of cheese or bits of hotdog certainly won’t hurt your dog, a better idea would be to choose a treat that’s specifically made for dogs. Look for healthy ingredients such as chicken, peanut butter, barley flour, and ground rice, to name just a few. Try to avoid artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives such as BHT and propylene glycol.
You know your dog’s favorite treat, but make sure you switch up the treats regularly. No matter how much they love that treat, your dog may get bored with the same treat, day after day. To prevent this from happening, rotating between several of their favorites will help keep your four-legged friend’s interest longer and will help keep them motivated. A motivated dog is a dog that wants to do the next behavior!
Treat calories can add up in a hurry! When you’re doing a lot of training and using a lot of treats, you may want to consider reducing their meal size slightly to account for the extra calories. You can try using lower calorie treats or even some of their regular kibble, but keep in mind those may not hold their interest as long.
The most important thing you can remember is to keep training fun! If you and your dog are both enjoying the training sessions, you’re more likely to stick with it! Learning new behaviors requires time and patience, but training time can be a wonderful way to bond with your dog. Lastly, always end your training session on a positive note for you and your dog!
The information given is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way intended to supersede, challenge, or supplant the diagnosis, treatment, or advice of a licensed veterinarian.
Renee Jones, CPDT-KSA, is a certified professional dog trainer, having received instruction from canine behaviorist Dr. Pamela Reid, plus nationally acclaimed trainers: Patricia McConnell, Pia Silvani, and Jean Donaldson, to name a few. She is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). She serves as a Pet Marketing and Canine Specialist for JeffersPet and JeffersPet.com.