Rewarding dogs for behaviors can be done with food/treats, toys, or affection. In many cases, using food or treats is the most effective way to train your dog. Today, Bailie, Madison and I are sharing some of our training tips using food as a reward. Your dog, and what you are training for will also determine which type of reward is best for your own situation.
5 Tips For Rewarding Dogs With Food
1. Small, Single Pieces
The size of the reward is not the key. For most humans this concept is hard to believe, but it is true. A dog gets a lot of pleasure out of eating several pea sized treats, fed one at a time. Dogs don’t count, but we do count in our own way. Your dog doesn’t want to put on the pounds training either, which makes small pieces good for the furry waistline.
2. Jackpot Treating
Sometimes after your training work is done, it is nice to give the dog a jackpot of treats. The jackpot consists of a bunch of the tiny pieces all at once. Dogs see this as one big treat, not multiple small treats. It’s a fun way to end a training session.
3. Every Dog Loves Variety
Most dogs love treats, and food, but it is a good idea to use a variety of foods when training. Some of us love lamb, some love beef, some like crunchy best. It makes training much more fun if don’t have the same treats, every day, forever. Variety is the spice of life, you know. For dogs this holds true as well.
4. Keep Your Pup Guessing
Keeping your dog guessing what reward she will get is motivational. Maybe you will be making your own treats, like my Lamb Balls. Perhaps for “sit” you use freeze dried pork, and for “down”, small crunchy treats. Because your dog will like some treats better than others, they are more apt to perform in the hope of getting their favorite treat. Whatever you choose to use for training, don’t go cheap! Get really good, healthy treats your dog will want to work for! Veggies are a great reward, if you have a dog who likes veggies. My sisters and I do not like veggies. Friends of ours will do almost anything for green beans, so crazy!
5. Rewarding Dogs With Large Treats
What about large treats, or cookies? I say, every treat has its place. Big treats are good for a single action, such as coming in from the yard when called. One doesn’t want to dole out too many big treats or your dog’s fur will start to feel snug!
Always keep the size, amounts, and variety in mind when training your dog, or handing out treats. You will both be happier, your dog will stay fit, and work better for you too.
I do like the sounds of jackpot treats!!!
Everyone does, but they should be used sparingly.
Jan K says
Those are great tips! We pretty much do the same things, though I could probably do a little better in the variety department. I tend to get the same few that they really like, they I do throw something different in from time to time. I’ve never used veggies for training, but I do think the green beans especially would work for Luke!
The size thing is so true. When Cricket is sitting by the pantry hoping for a treat, and will not give up, I just usually give in. I could give her a piece of kibble and she’d be satisfied she got something!
We are amazed what some dogs will do for green beans. We spit them out, no thank you. It is very hard for humans to get the tiny piece will do the trick part, but Mom tries her best.
that is a super idea to use different treats… we will do that, thanks!!!
It keeps us motivated because we don’t know what the reward will be.
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
Great tips, I give out a ton of treats so I take one small one and break it into three’s for each of my dogs so they aren’t getting a big one each time and getting fat.
We use broken up treats, and in the case of homemade treats like chicken or beef, Mom bites them into small pieces while we train.
We love treats at our house too! These are great guidelines! Thanks Emma. Awesome post. The pictures are super!! your doodle friend Dash
Guess what? We all got treats for posing with treats! What a wonderful working environment! Have a few treats on us today 🙂
I’m impressed you can get them to pose, and not the treats. These guys love cheerios. When we are playing games, or doing training, that is our go to treat.
Some dogs at agility class love cheerios. That would be a handy treat. We know our manners with food. It really didn’t take long to teach us not to eat during photo shoots until Mom says we can.
Knotty Toys for Good Dogs says
What better subject than TREATS!
3 bum swings! 3 more! ?
That’s right! Everyone loves treats!
Great tips, Emma! We are fond of different level treats! We have treats we get just for being good dogs…and higher value treats for modeling…and then the Mecca of all treats, chicken for learning new tricks!
Jakey, Arty & Rosy
We have the most special stuff for the biggest jobs too.
M. K. Clinton says
Treats is the magic word around here. Pierre has had a few too many and is on a carrot treat diet for now. BOL!
I don’t understand how you can put carrot and treat in the same sentence. Carrots are torturous to eat.
Those are good tips. I know I like a variety of treats, otherwise it gets boring.
We love the suspense of wondering which treats Mom has for us.