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Tricks for Treats: Training Your Dog with Food

Being a dog parent, you might be so into posting the paw-fact pictures of your pooch in your social media account that you sometimes end up posting twice or more a day. Actually, who wouldn’t, when dogs have taken over the Facebook and Instagram world itself, owning millions of followers! While scrolling news feeds, you often come across videos of cute puppies playing dead games as real or showing their sit pretty skills or newly learned high five tricks. So as you wish to teach your fur pet the same, right?

Then, why not start the training from now on?

Is food the best reward to train your dog to do tricks?

It goes without saying that dogs more or less are just always pleased every time they get treats to eat. It is no such unusual scene to find pups eating as though they didn’t get food in ages, even if they might have gulped a bunch of treats some moment before. That is why the food obsession behaviour of the dogs is being put to use to train the pups, forming the foods as the main medium of reinforcement.

It is also seen that more than praising or petting, the dog responds better to food, which shortens the time of training and fastens the learning. Just like kids enjoy getting gifts more than praises, be it for their excellent results or some good works, getting food also encourages the dogs to repeat and shape the expected behaviour.

Have the care to use the treats the right way

Before you jump on with both feet to start your pooches training session, make certain that you use the treats as effectively as needed. Otherwise, you wouldn’t obviously want your pup to struggle with extra weights for eating those high-calorie treats or become dependent on treats to get any job well done.

Here are some ways to ensure that you are using food for your pup’s training effectively-

Break the treats into pieces

Keeping the treats small, which can be swallowed fast and need less time to chew, is one key way to use the treats productively during your dog’s training. Because a big chunk of food will take extra time during the training session and minimise your pup’s concentration, no worry, your dogs will not judge you for giving those pea-sized tinier broken pieces of food because they will already be impressed with the number of treats they are getting. By doing this, you can be sure that your dog will not get full until the training session is over.

Don’t use the treats as a bribe; use them for reinforcement

Don’t turn your pup’s food training into bribery. Let them taste the treat only when they perform what you asked for. Suppose if your dog denies coming to you whenever you call by their name, don’t let them have a bite or see on their treats before they do the behaviour. Reward them the treat only when they listen to your cue and commands.

Otherwise, further, your pup will not even be ready to move an inch until on unless they get food. That is why to not fall into the bribery trap; it is far better to not make food as your only training toolkit.

Discover their high-value training treats

Choose the food items for which your pup will be ready to work on to get a bite on those. This is mostly understandable via any private dog training since you can access and tailor your pup individually and find the right treats that will work the most to teach them new behaviour.

For example, you can place a meat piece on one side and a vegetable item on another to find out what they pick and consider the picked one as their high-value treat. So that every time you need to get some extra bit of motivation from your pup, you can take advantage of the high valued food items.

Pick healthy treats and bring a variety

Prioritise treats made of natural ingredients which are low in fat and calories to ensure a balanced and nutritious diet for your pet. Also, don’t spoil your dog by treating them with their extra special high-valued foods periodically. Because, at one time, the novelty of those high valued treats will fade away and will no longer work to push the extra energy to your pup.

To keep them all-time high to train, switch to a mix of both high and low valued food items. Suppose mixing your pup’s favourite store-bought sausages with some homemade vegetable slices will let your dog become less predictive about what they are getting as a treat.

At one point, phase out the rewards

Yes, at the beginning stages, treats are definitely very useful but not for too long otherwise, it will take an unfavourable turn. Once you become sure that your dog has got all the commands perfectly, you need to scale back their food rewards and start moving from periodic to occasional schedule to give them food treats. Instead, start throwing some in life rewards such as petting, praising or gifting toys. This will help your dog to overcome lure dependency and perform your desired behaviour even if there is no food bowl in your hand.

Fear not! You might often hear some myths of using food in dog training that you will always have to roam with a pocket full of treats to make your pup obey your command. Or some says that you need to spend dollars after dollars on those store-bought expensive dog treats. But after reading all those ways of using food rewards during dog training discussed above, do you think so?

Still, if you are not sure about the food reinforcement ways, you can look at dog training services that provide assistance of well trained professional dog trainers to the clients. This could be one foolproof way to get your canine buddy full trained and mastered in a bunch of fun tricks.

Written By

Liam Barnard is a freelance writer and an independent blogger who writes about communication, sustainability, technology, globalization, and home improvement. He aspires to become a professional writer and make a difference in society and the world we live in.

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