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Treats are a double-edged soured. That is why it is important to know what should you do before giving a dog a treat. You can do wonder through treats yet you may also ruin all the time you devoted to training your dog.
Dog’s favorite time of the is treat time. Both you and your dog tend to be looking forward to it. It’s so pure the way dogs get so happy and excited when you give them treats as if you just offered them the world. It is that frantically-wagging tail that would definitely make you smile.
As a matter of fact, offering a treat to get something done is one of the most successful persuasive tricks. Not only for dogs it works with everyone. It is similar to when your parents used to give you money or get you some special gifts for getting an A on your report card.
This trick used to make you work harder. This technique is called positive reinforcement. If used properly positive reinforcement can save you a lot of troubles. It works perfectly for dogs. You can use it to build habits or align a certain behavior with a positive connotation.
Just as it works for kids, it would definitely work for dogs too. However, for dogs, it is not money that they are after. dogs care about food and sometimes praise. Positive reinforcement training uses treats that your dog finds rewarding to get desired behaviors.
Treats tend to make dogs more likely to repeat the desired behavior. That is why positive reinforcement is one of your most powerful techniques for shaping or changing your dog’s behavior.
Well, rewarding your dog for good behaviors with treats sounds like a pretty simple thing right. You are probably saying I’m going to do this and solve all my problems. Well, don’t rush it in buddy. This technique is not so magical after all. It may lead to you spoiling your dog and ruining everything.
Before doing this there are a lot of things you need to know about giving dogs treats such as favorite toys. you must follow some basic guidelines carefully to efficiently practice positive reinforcement.
The Importance of giving treats AKA Positive Reinforcement :
Psychologically speaking, giving your dog treats is “positive reinforcement.” Whether you are aware of it not when you give your dog a treat you are using this method to reinforce a behavior.
Unlike many other methods that punish undesirable behavior (which is called negative reinforcement), this method encourages behaviors.
Positive reinforcement includes many other tools than treats such as positive reactions (praise) to help your dog to understand commands. Also, it encourages your dog to maintain a habit out of good behavior.
Here are a couple of reasons why should opt for treat training :
- The most successful method :
Yes! Yes! I know what you are going say shock collars are very effective. However, training tools like shock collars will do the job yet it teaches your dog through fear. Not to mention that not all dogs are prone to respond well to it. Some of them will end up just developing anxiety.
Through positive reinforcement training, dogs obey their owners’ commands and develop new behaviors because they want to, not because they are forced to do so. This is why this method tops every method because it tricks your pet to think that s/he wants that.
It is a very pleasing training method both you and your dog would enjoy training. When used correctly, you will see how your pup will continue to behave without the treats.
- It strengthens the bond between you and your dog :
Other methods tend to rely on physical or emotional pain. If you do this constantly it would be impossible to build that strong bond between you and your dog. So, your dog would Definitely not enjoy his/her time around you. Of course, you don’t want that.
When you decided to get a dog, you definitely wanted a faithful lifepath buddy. Love and trust are important for dogs. They are a faithful creature. If you treat them well, they will appreciate it.
Dogs love to be praised and admired for their good deeds, well we do so too! Giving your dog treats helps to strengthen that bond between you guys.
- It is fun :
Training your dog through treats feels almost like playtime for dogs and especially puppies. However, training through treats will teach them in the process.
What should you do before giving a dog a treat?
In case, you are ready to go forward and train with the positive reinforcement method, treats. There are some guidelines and steps to follow. You can use these to guide you training your dog the right way.
Step 1: Choose your treat
First off start by choosing what kind of a treat to use. It is recommended to look for dog treats with dental or nutritional benefits.
- Make sure to go for a brand that targets dogs specifically when you head to purchase store to buy treats. You can find all you need to know about added nutrients and dental benefits on the label. So, you better check that one.
Going for a dog brand is very important since most dog foods meet dietary needs on a higher level. Eventually, the best treat you could get for your dog is one that has a high health value reward yet can motivate them if needed.
- Try to vary your dog’s treats and experiment with them to fall in your dog’s favorites. It is important to keep switching up the types of treats.
Then, try to observe your dog’s reaction to the different given treats. This way will be easier to find the dog’s favorites. Try using the highest value treats where there are lots of distracting smells and sights.
- Finally, you know your dog better than any dog brand can ever. Thus, try creating your own treats. In addition to the treats you buy, you can make easy treats at home where you can control everything.
Honestly, this is the best option. When you make it out of love and care you yourself would enjoy giving it to your dog. Imagine you giving her/him that treat you made and you see them all excited about it.
There are a lot of recipes on YouTube if you want to make it at home. This way you can control what goes inside of your pet and make the healthiest treats that fulfill your dog’s needs.
For example, for a summertime treat, try to simmer chicken and water for eight hours in a slow cooker on low. Then, shred large pieces and stir the pot. Spoon the mixture in an ice cube tray or in cups. Finally, freeze them overnight.
- The most important thing about choosing your treat is consulting your dog’s vet. Check your dog’s allergies, the daily needed calories, or what would suit them well.
Consult your vet on “How many calories does my dog need every day? Does the food I provide it deliver all of its nutritional needs? Do you advise any nutritional supplements?”
Step 2: know when to give your dog treats
Correct timing is very important when giving treats.
- When your dog does something good, the treat must be given immediately. If not, your dog may not relate it with the proper action or understand that s/he got that treat because s/he behaved well.
For example, if you got the dog to sit yet you give them the treat after they’ve stood back up, they’ll obviously think they’re being rewarded for the act of standing.
Start off by continuous reinforcement, I mean reward your pet every time they display a desirable behavior.
Once your dog picks up that behavior, switch to intermittent reinforcement. In other words, keep praising your pet yet gradually reduce the number of times in which they receive a treat.
- Note that you should not give treats more than just once or twice a day. The treats that you are giving are supposed to be seen as a ‘treat’ not a meal. If you offer them regularly, they are nothing more than regular food. This way dog won’t act accordingly.
How to use treats :
- The Sit Command :
This may be one of the most difficult food-related lessons during the training of the dog. Still, it is important since it offers benefits both for the dog and the owner. The training needs to be consistent so that the dog learns quickly.
The first thing to do is to kneel down facing your puppy while holding a treat in your hand.
Be sure you are close enough to let the dog smell the treat but not let him eat it.
Then start making movements with your hand with which you are holding the treat waiting for the dog to follow it, you can lift it above or behind the dog’s ears.
Tell the dog to sit and wait for him sit still to give him his reward, if he keeps moving keep saying “sit” and do not give him the treat till he sits.
Along with the treatment, you may give the dog some “there you go boy” expressions to make him feel encouraged.
Practise this every day till your dog sits even without any treat.
The trait needs to be given in small portions because the training may take a long time and you do not want to mess with the calories intake of your dog (gaining weight).
You may rather want to prepare your own treats at home with chicken and sweet potatoes.
- The Stay Command :
After training the dog how to sit, you may want to train him how to sit still. Dogs are so energetic, so it can be hard to train them the stay command, but using treats helps a lot.
Once you command the dog to sit, make a hand gesture of “stop” and say “stay” then walk slowly away.
If the dog is not following you, then reward him with a treat or a hug (physical affection is important to dogs).
Repeat the same again and keep walking farther than before.
The longer the dog stays, the bigger the reward should be, till he learns how to stay with no treats at all.
- The Down Command :
This command simply means that you want your dog to lay down. Since puppies are bursting energy, it is hard to tame them down. However, you can use treats to facilitate the process.
Put a treat in your hand while making sure your puppy is watching. Let him smell it and try to take it.
Put your hand down slowly, your puppy’s head will follow it to the ground.
Once the puppy lays down with your hand say “down” and give him a treat with some loving hugs.
Why Does Your Dog need to Work Hard to Get a Treat?
Dogs need the training to earn treats. You cannot just give them treats because you love them or feel sorry for them. Training them needs patience and time, that is why you need to be wise when it comes to giving treats.
First, it is better for their health not to eat a treat each second. Second, it helps them better pets at home. Third, giving them random treats would ruin the times you gave them treats because they behaved well.
It’s important to think carefully about what you should do before giving a dog a treat. This article should be in great help in how these treats may affect their health. As you have seen you might be reinforcing bad behaviours without knowing.
Treats are supposed to be rewards, and rewards are the best way to train dogs. So being inconsistent with giving treats would lower the possibilities of your dog’s learning process.
Controlling how you give treats would benefit the owner in the first place because their dogs would not be trouble-makers when they’re surrounded by new people.