Treats, treats, TREATS! Come and get me’. How many times have you heard a friend or family member tell you about some crazy food that their dog loves? Dogs do love a massive variety of foods; unfortunately, not all of the foods that they think they want to eat are good or great for them. Dog treating is not rocket science but does take a little research, common sense, and paying attention to how your dog reacts after wolfing down a treat.
I am going to throw out some treats for training as well as some regular ole “Good Dog” treats for your sidekick and friend in mischief. I will touch on the proper time to treat, giving the treat, types, and bribery vs. reward.
Types of Treats
Love and attention are considered a reward, treat as positive reinforcement, and can be just as effective as an edible treat. Dog treating is comprised of edibles, praise, love and attention, as well as play or allowing some quality time with their favorite piece of rawhide. At times, these treats are crucial to dog training. Human foods safe for dogs such as fruit and veggies, cut up meats that are raw or cooked, yogurt, peanut butter, kibble, and anything you come up with that your pup loves, but is good for him and his digestive system are all great for dog treating. Not all human foods are great for dog treating though, please read up regarding human foods that are safe for dogs.
Giving the Treat
Try to avoid treating your dog when he is over stimulated and running amuck and in an unfocused state of mind. This can be a counterproductive treating as it may reinforce a negative behavior or you may be unable to get your dog’s attention. When giving the treat allow your dog to get a big ole doggie whiff of that tasty food treat, but keep it up and away from a quick snatch and grab. Due to their keen sense of smell, they will know long before you figure it out that there is a tasty snack nearby. Issue your command and wait for him to obey before issuing the doggie reward. Remember when dog treating to be patient and loving, but do not give the treat until he obeys. Try to use the treating to reward the kickback mellow dog not the out of control or over-excited dog.
Some dogs have a natural gentleness to them and always take from your hand gently, other dogs need some guidance regarding taking the treat from your hand in a manner that is gentle. If your dog is a bit rough on the ole treat grabbing hand, go ahead and train the command “Gentle” when giving treats. Be firm that from this point forth no treats will be given unless taken gently. Being steadfast with this decision will work well and soon your pup or dog will comply if he wants his tasty treat.
Time to Treat
The best time to be issuing dog treats is in between his or her meals. If training always keep the tastiest treat in reserve in case you need to reel your dog’s attention back to the training session. Too close to meal times all treats are less effective so keep that in mind when planning you training sessions. Obviously if your dog is full from mealtime he will be less likely to want a treat reward than if he is a bit hungry, therefore your training session is apt to be more difficult and far less effective.
What’s In the Treats?
Take a gander at the treat ingredients and makes sure there are no chemicals, fillers, additives, colors and things that just seem unhealthy. Certain human foods that are tasty to us do not go down the doggie palette too well so take note. Almost all dogs love some type of raw meat and or slightly cooked meats. In tiny nibble sizes, they work great to get their attention where you want it focused.
Many people like to make homemade treats and that is fine, just keep to the rules we just mentioned and watch and read what you are adding while you are having fun in the kitchen. Remember to read the list of vegetables dogs can and cannot eat, and note that pits and seeds cause dog’s issues such as choking and intestinal issues such as gas. Remove the seeds and pits, and clean all fruits and veggies before slicing into doggie size treats.
Bribery vs. Reward Dog Treating
The other day a friend of mine mentioned bribery for action when he wanted his dog to shake his hand. I thought about it later and thought I would clarify. Bribery is offering the food in advance to get the dog to act out the command or behavior. Reward is giving your dog his favorite toy, food, love, affection after he has performed the behavior.
Example of bribery – you want your dog to come and you hold out in front of you a huge mound of steak in your hand before calling him. Reward would be giving your dog the steak after he obeyed the “Come” command and came to you.
Bribed dogs learn to comply with your wishes only when they see food, the rewarded dog realizes that he only gets his reward after performing the desired action. This is also good as other non-food items can more easily be introduced as rewards when dog treating.