Just ask any dog owner and they will say the biggest problem they have is teaching obedience and good behavior. Dogs that run away, chase other dogs or people, jump on others, show aggressive behavior or have potty accidents can pose a serious challenge for their owners.
The solution? An irresistible and healthy training treat that your dog craves. Nothing motivates a dog like their sense of smell and food. Training rewards are an essential part of initial dog training and rewarding good behavior every day. But, it is so important to understand the right way to utilize dog treats.
In this article you’ll find tips and valuable information on using healthy treats when training your dog in order to build better habits and a more obedient, happy dog!
Why Do Healthy Dog Treats Work?
According to Peter Tyson with NOVAScienceNow (PBS), “the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours”. This essentially means that a dog’s sense of smell is so great, they can tell the ingredients of food and treats from many feet away. So, you’re very first step in using dog treats for training will be to find a healthy dog treat that your pet enjoys and is excited for. Also, when training you need to remember how well a dog can smell and understand that it’s not necessary to put a treat right under its nose in order for them to know that it’s there!
It’s best to use healthy dog treats for training in between meals, instead of after a full breakfast or dinner. Treat training doesn’t work as well if your pup is full of food, they will be less interested. You can have a stock of a few different types of healthy dog treats to keep your dog excited while training. Remember that a treat is a type of affection and is a reward for calm, submissive behavior - not just an after meal snack!
Also, try not to use dog treats as a “trick” to get dogs to complete some type of action that they are terrified of; such as going into the bathtub, having their nails trimmed or taking a medication. This use of dog treats will reinforce that treats equal “scary” and will not help in promoting good behavior in any sort of training.
How To Use Healthy Dog Treats
The best time to give your dog a treat is when they are calm, submissive and obedient. The goal is to reinforce this type of behavior in your dog and help them understand that a reward will come when they act this way. When you go towards the dog treats or open up packaging, it’s likely that your dog may get excited or jumpy. If this happen, stand back and walk to the side without showing your dog the treats in your hand. Be patient and teach them that only calm behavior is rewarded. If they are jumping towards your hand, move the treat away. Slowly move your hand into the air above their nose with the goal of getting them to lower their butt to the floor. Wait until your dog is sitting down or laying on the floor and then reward them with the healthy dog treat!
It’s important as a dog owner to be consistent with how you give healthy dog treats to your pet. Always be sure to prioritize exercise and affection first! The point isn’t to “bribe” your dog with treats because you don’t only want them to behave when you have the treats in hand. The goal is for them to obey commands without the expectation of a treat as a reward. A great way to reinforce this is to use treats and affection randomly during training sessions.
Another great tip for dog treat training is to reward progress. You may be tempted to only give a treat when the “final” task if completed (such as a full sit or laying flat on the ground). However, it’s good to reward your dog for small “wins” throughout training. For example, if you are training to sit and they lower their butt a little - give them a small treat for the progress made! Continue until he’s sitting full on the ground and also reward with a smiling “yes” and affection!
Finally, when training your dog be sure to eliminate any distractions. This is really important in order for your dog to focus on the healthy dog treat or reward for their behavior. You may find that if there are other pets in the room, loud noises or even harsh winds - your dog will be distracted and less interested.
Remember, dogs do the things that we reinforce and show them to do. Your behavior, attitude, patience and commands are how your dog will learn. It’s easy to forget that your puppy was not born knowing any English words, so phrases such as “no” or “stop that” are foreign to them until they are taught what it means! Reward a well-behaved dog with healthy dog treats, patience, love and affection and you will see the results!