We all want our dogs to do what we ask. Using treats can allow this to happen quickly and more frequently. The cool thing is that treats can be used to help build those good habits that we want our dogs to have all while keeping a relatively stress free environment.
It is important to choose a healthy treat that is made in the USA. The ingredients being used are very important. Some things you’ll want to avoid are dyes, by-products, propylene glycol, and corn. Some things to look for are a source of meat as the first or second ingredient, vitamins, fruits and vegetables. For my dog I use “Power Bites” made by Merrick Pet Care.
Once you’ve chosen your healthy treat you’re ready for these 5 benefits of using treats for training:
1. Less Stress
When you’re using treats to train, you’re focusing heavily on teaching the correct behaviors instead of focusing on correcting the unwanted behaviors. The goal with using treats to train is to set your dog up to do the right thing so you can give him a treat after. This treat represents what is referred to as Positive Reinforcement. (+R) When +R is used it makes a behavior likely to happen more frequently in the future. By using +R you can create the habits that you’d like your dog to do. (e.g. Sitting instead of jumping when people come over, lying down instead of begging when you’re eating, looking at things instead of barking at them.) When your dog is doing the habits that you like, it makes you happy resulting in less stress.
2. Better Relationship
One of the main reasons we have dogs is because we enjoy their company. We don’t refer to them as man’s best friend for no reason. One way to have a great relationship with a dog is through its stomach. Just about every dog will enjoy the presence of a human that gives him presents. When a dog enjoys your presence and views you as a provider of good things, it makes training that much easier. This is because the dog will become conditioned that doing the things you ask earns him treats. These treats are just like the paycheck that humans go to work for.
3. Build Confidence
Yep, you read that correctly. Treats can be used to help build your dog’s confidence. The cool thing is that most dogs will work for a treat. With repetition of getting treats in situations that originally made the dog nervous, it will become less of a big deal to the dog. In fact, the dog may even start intentionally going towards that situation to get the treat. An example is doing agility. Each piece of equipment usually starts off very difficult if not impossible for dogs that are nervous about it. With repetition of introducing each piece of equipment in small increments, and pairing it with lots of treats, nervous dogs face their fears and end up accomplishing the previously impossible obstacle. In the long run those previously nervous dogs will end up flying through a course of equipment that use to cause them crippling fear.
4. Increase IQ
Do you feel like your dog is lacking in the brain department? Well, treats can actually make your dog more intelligent. What you can do is put treats in different places or things and make your dog figure out how to get them. They make interactive toys that are designed for this. The toys are made in different difficulty levels. Start off with one that is very easy to gain access to the treat. As your dog is getting better, start to use the ones that are more challenging. Another game you can do that is great for your dog is hiding treats in a room of your house and teaching him how to seek them out with his nose. Oh want to hear the best part? These are great mental exercises for your dog and it is said that 10 minutes of mental exercise is equivalent to about 30 minutes of physical exercise. This means that it will tire your dog out!
5. Your Dog Will Do What You Ask
The greatest part about using treats to train is that your dog will do what you ask and you don’t have to use any pain, fear, or force. As I stated above, this is because you’re paying your dog just like humans like to be paid for their work. With repetition and consistency you wont have to pay nearly as much. You will still want to pay here and there to keep the behavior strong, though.
There are so many more reasons why using treats for training is beneficial but I wanted to keep this short. Remember to stay patient, consistent, persistent, upbeat, and use those treats. It will set you and your dog up for a lot of success!