Just utter the words “treats” and you will see your dog’s eyes brighten up!! Isn’t it? We all will agree that our dogs love treats and we, the guardians, enjoy feeding them to our little sweethearts. You can use treats as perfect training tools. Let’s see how.
Treats are very important for inducing a desired response and rewarding a desired action. Nowadays, a variety of treats are available in the market such as treats for puppies, for training purposes, chew treats which are used as boredom blasters and provide mental stimulation to dogs. We can even use human food such as cheese, biscuits, paneer, or fruits as treats, as per the liking of an individual dog.
Tips for using treats
in training :
- Find out which type of treat your dog likes. It can be readymade or homemade.
- Start by offering smaller portions of treats during training. Do not overfeed them.
- Use treats as a reward and not as a bribe.
- Keep your treats containers at easy accessible places,so you can reward your dog’s good behaviour immediately.
- You can change the treats during training, if your dog gets bored of it.
Learning to ‘Sit’
with treats :
Let us assume that we want to start training a pup for ‘Sit’ command and will use dog biscuit as a reward.
As a lure :
- Hold the treat little higher than your dog’s head and take it backwards slowly. He will sit to keep the treat in sight.
- Say ‘Good Boy’ every time your dog sits and reward him with a biscuit immediately.
- Repeat it a few times till
- he knows what is expected from him.
- Once your dog knows the action, say sit and lure him into position.
- Be patient and practice the command ‘Sit’ a couple of times. Always praise the dog.
As a reward :
- At next stage, we will stop using the treat as a lure but will start using it as a reward. Keep the treat in your pocket or at any easy accessible place but do not show it to him.Say ‘Sit’ and once your dog perform the desired action, immediately praise him with ‘Good Boy’ and give him the treat.
- This whole process has to be performed within few seconds of the desired action. Only then you will be successful using the treat as a reward and not as a bribe.
When treats become a bribe :
- Your dog will perform only when you have the treat.
- If treats are always used as bribe, training is not done successfully.
- You may risk your dog’s health by overfeeding.
- Dogs may learn to beg.
- During training if the distraction is more attractive to the dog than the treat offered, he will end up ignoring you and may not follow the command.
(Pooja Sathe is trained under Northern Centre for Canine Behaviour and Training
UK. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph: +91-9820596903, 022-24165358 – Mumbai.)