Guide to Using Treats for Dog Obedience Training
Is using treats appropriate during dog obedience classes? Many pet owners have this question in their minds. With years of training and experience, our trainers at Alpha Paws have understood how dogs think, learn, and sense their surroundings. So, here’s an article that explores how treats affect dog obedience training and how you should use them in the training process.
Should You Use Treat During Dog Obedience Training?
Using food as a treat during the training is highly effective. Food is one of the best options for treats because it naturally motivates your pet to achieve a goal. Just like humans, dogs can get nervous when learning something new. A treat can help them build confidence and liking toward the training sessions.
Is Using a Treat Equal to Bribing Your Dog?
This is a concern for many dog owners. A treat can become a bribe for your pet if you use it the wrong way. There is a slight difference between offering a treat as a reward and presenting it as a bribe. If you show your dog the treat and then give the command and tell them that “if you sit, I’ll give it to you,” you are clearly bribing your pet. Training them in this manner means they will expect a reward before obeying your command, and if they don’t see food in your hand, they are less likely to do the job. So, instead, you should use food as a payment to your dog. Encourage them to obey your command and reward them after they do as you say.
Tips to Ensure You are Not Bribing Your Dog
- Keep the treat away to ensure it is hidden from your dog until they obey your command.
- When using food to encourage your pet to do something, ensure to put the treat away as soon as they complete the task you’ve asked for.
- After using food to complete the task about 5 to 10 times, try teaching the command without food in your hand and reward later immediately.
Why Does My Dog Only Listen When I Have a Treat?
This is why being consistent with the rewards is essential until your pup understands what you are trying to teach. You need to repeat the dog obedience sessions at least for about 9 to 10 times. When your dog begins to listen to you, you will want to move to a more irregular reward schedule. With this, your pet should listen to you with or without food as they know there is a good chance of receiving a treat when you are doing it randomly.
Levels of Treats for Dog Obedience Training
Planning your dog obedience training sessions around mealtimes is an excellent strategy, and your dog will happily work to get food. Use low-value treats, such as biscuits, lower in calories than next-level treats. But if there are distractions, you should have a better value reward ready when the existing one fails to lure your pet.
You will want to use such treats for most of your training sessions. Soft, semi-moist, and easy-to-chew treats are a great option as your pet can easily consume them, and you can also break them into smaller pieces to avoid adding any extra calories to their diet. Crunchy and difficult-to-break treats can slow down the training process and not be equally motivating for your dog.
Treats that fall under this category have a moist and greasy texture and are extra smelly than other treats. Preserve these precious treats to teach the most challenging behaviours, such as asking your dog to come when called, especially in highly distracting environments. You can also use these rewards to modify bad behaviours. As professional dog obedience trainers, we recommend using a variety of high-value treats during the classes.
Here are a few options to choose from:
- Small pieces of cheese
- Small pieces of hot dog
- Shredded chicken
- Cut up fish
- Human-grade packaged dog treats
Why Isn’t My Dog Food Motivated?
If your dog is not interested or motivated at the sight of food as a treat, they might have the following issues:
- Too distracted
- Requires a change in reward
- Underlying medical condition
Try using their favourite toys or play items as the second option for a treat but ensure you are using the right level of a treat for the behaviour you are asking to learn. A stressed, uncomfortable, or upset dog won’t take any food.
We Offer Dog Obedience Classes for Your Needs
At Alpha Paws, we offer dog obedience training with positive reinforcement. We use praise and physical touch, such as petting, as a reward for effective results. Identifying what your pet likes is crucial to establishing excellent communication and helping them learn new cues.
Whether you are looking to have private lessons at home, virtual classes, or training at our state-of-the-art facility, we can help. Contact us at 905-830-9500 or toll-free at 1-877-868-729, or fill out our form to book custom dog obedience lessons for your pet.