To Treat or not to Treat?


Should you use treats in dog training or not? Some people claim it is better to not use treats in training.  Their concern is that the Dog will only listen in case there is a treat. This is a valid concern, cause this can happen if treats are mis-used in training.

The trick is to make sure that food is being used as a reward and not as a bribe. There is a big difference!  A bribe is produced before the desired behavior, a reward is produced after the behavior. So even showing the treat before giving a command is considered a bribe.

Important is to know that when you are rewarding good behaviour, you have many options to reward: a favorite toy, a cozy cuddle, playtime, a belly rub, jogging together.. whatever makes your Dog happy can be used as a reward. Make sure to change type of rewards frequently. This will help prevent the problem that your dog will only follow the commands when you have treats around.

There are also a lot of Dogs who love their treats but will not eat when going outside cause of too much excitement and distractions. This will make the use of treats for training outside the home useless. Again that is why it is very important to use different variations of rewards. Your Dog will soon learn that following commands and showing good behaviour will get him happy surprises 😀

Using food isn’t cheating or bribing. It is an easy way to motivate your dog. A reward should be a positive consequence for a desired behavior.
There are lots and lots of ways to reward your dog for a good behavior. Treats are just one of the most used and often misused rewards.

It is very important to not overfeed your Dog while training. It is also very important to not combine treats as a reward in any form of training where conditioning or any form of activity/sport is involved. Active training with a full stomach can cause a medical condition called bloat, where the stomach swells up/tilts which can be fatal to a dog. Of course you can use 2 or 3 treats during training in the park but make sure to not overfeed and excersize in one session.

So regarding using Treats in Dog training we can summarize it into 4 golden rules of using treats in Dog training:

1. Use Treats as a reward not as a Bribe
2. A Treat should only be one of the many Rewards you give your dog, variety is key
3. Do not overfeed
4. Do not use treats combined with exercise/sport training

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