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Successful dog training with treats

Successful dog training with treats

One of the most successful ways to train your dog is by using treats to reinforce positive behaviours. Not only do these foodstuffs offer a yummy reward for a job well done, but they also encourage your pup to keep up the good work and learn new behaviours more quickly.

Still, not all treats are created equal, and the quality of your selected product can impact its effectiveness with your dog’s training. In addition, the “right” treat can depend on the activity you are conducting, the desired outcomes, and your dog’s preferences.

Join us as we explore the different types of treats available and which are the best option for your pup.

How do you choose the right treats for dog training?

There are numerous ways to reward your dog for good behaviour, but selecting the proper dog training treats is one of the best ways to get results.

Soft and smelly treats are a great place to start; soft treats are ideal because they allow for faster consumption compared to biscuits (which are crumbly and can be distracting for your dog). Additionally, dogs often associate smelly treats (like cheese) as having higher value, which makes them more receptive to doing what you ask.

High value vs. low value

You might assume high-value treats will be the most effective for reinforcing good behaviours, but it depends on the circumstance. Before you decide which is best for your pup, it’s important to understand the key differences between the two and how they aid various training types.

High value dog training treats

High-value treats generally include those that are moist, freeze-dried and smelly. Examples include chicken and xylitol-free peanut butter, which are great options when training your dog in a brand new behaviour. But, as with any human foods, these should be used in moderation.

For day-to-day high-value dog training treats, you’ll want to look to reputable brands for nutritious and species-appropriate options that will motivate your dog to engage in training sessions and maintain their focus.

When to use high value treats

  • During speed training, when you want fast cues that allow you to move to the next rep quickly. 
  • When you begin teaching your dog a new behaviour. 
  • If you are training in a distracting environment, such as a dog park.
  • During essential socialisation training for puppies.
  • When an external dog trainer is engaging in reinforcement training with your pup.
  • During counter-conditioning practices (for example, addressing aggressive behaviours).

Let your dog choose their own treats. Try different flavours or meats, and experiment with different textures (wet, dry, semi-dry, dry-freeze, jerky).

Keep ingredients to a minimum

To maintain a balanced diet for your pup and ensure that you provide the best nutrition during training sessions, look for products with limited ingredients. For example, ZIWI Peak’s lamb rewards offer a dog training treat that is 96% premium meat and less than six calories per treat.

This healthy combination of ingredients allows you to engage in guilt-free rewards for your dog during training and provides a tasty treat they’ll love. 

How do you prepare treats for dog training?

Once you’ve decided which dog training treats are most suitable for your circumstance, it’s important to ensure that you prepare them correctly. Learning how to use dog training treats is essential to achieving your desired outcomes.

Keep them small 

Select small treats or cut large ones into smaller pieces; a pea-sized amount is ideal. This is better for your dog’s health and helps prevent weight gain. For example, the Yours Droolly chicken training sticks can be given as a slow-release reward for good behaviour or broken down into smaller pieces to use as a speed training aid.

Remember, treats should account for less than 10% of your dog’s overall daily diet. Keeping their rewards small and low-calorie helps maintain their focus throughout training without packing their diet full of excess calories.

Offer some variety

If you ate the same thing every day, it wouldn’t feel like much of a treat, would it? As the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life”, and keeping your dog engaged makes them more responsive to training and maintains their enthusiasm because they look forward to the surprise of what comes next.

Conduct a taste test

Let your dog choose their own treats. Try different flavours or meats, and experiment with different textures (wet, dry, semi-dry, dry-freeze, jerky).

Place one type of treat in each hand and allow your dog to sniff each. Pay attention to which one they choose, as this can help to establish the low/medium/high-value treats for your dog.

Dog training tips

Choosing the right dog training treats will be an excellent incentive to achieve your desired outcomes through positive reinforcement. Still, there are other dog training tips that you can utilise to get the most from your dog’s training.

  • Consistency is key. Sticking to a routine is integral to maintaining healthy behaviours from your pup. If you have a busy schedule, you might find that hiring a dog trainer could be a good option for maintaining your pup’s routine while you’re busy.
  • Keep your sessions short and sweet. When training your dog in new behaviours or tricks, it’s best to keep the sessions short (around 5 minutes is ideal) to avoid your dog becoming distracted.
  • Break it down. Some behaviours take longer for your dog to master. For example, if you want them to come when called, you may first reward them for turning to face you when you call their name. The next reward could be when they take a step toward you, and the final reward when they come right to you. Breaking training into stages can keep it more manageable for you and your pup.
  • Make it fun. Treats make training fun for dogs, but there are other ways to keep them engaged. Try implementing new commands during play sessions or reward good behaviour with a game of fetch. Your dog will be more likely to respond to cues if they’re having a good time while they’re doing it.

Why is it important to choose the right dog training treats?

Choosing the right dog training treats is essential for motivating your pet and encouraging certain behaviours through positive reinforcement.

Not only do the right treats allow you to change and maintain behaviours more efficiently, but they also keep your dog responsive, help to strengthen your bond and offer something for your dog to look forward to and enjoy.

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