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Treats are a great training tool because they help you reinforce positive or desired behaviours by rewarding your dog in the moment. But did you know that choosing the best treats for training is more complex than simply picking your pup’s favourites?
Factors like the behaviour you’re training for and the frequency of treat giving are important to consider when picking training treats. Read on to learn more about which treats are best for certain types of training or behaviours, and why!
🐶 How to use treats in training
When using treats to train your dog and reward good behaviours, make sure you give them the treat quickly. By following the right response from your pup with praise and a treat, right away, you help them quickly associate that behaviour with something they like!
And remember, consistency is the key to success with dog training – and treats are an important part of that! At the start, follow a specific cue like ‘sit’ or ‘come’ with a treat each time. Then, once you’ve made the positive connection for your dog and they respond to your commands each time, begin to slowly reduce the treats. Give the treat four times out of five, then three, then two, and so on. This way, treats can become an occasional reward instead of something your pup expects every time.
💨 Pick quick eats
Choose soft and small treats your dog can eat quickly. If your pup has to chew the treat for a long time, their attention will move to finishing the treat and not the behaviour you’re trying to reward. This can disrupt training, and make it more difficult to associate that behaviour with the treat.
Also, keep in mind that treats are extra calories for your dog. Using small treats or breaking larger ones into pieces makes it easier to prevent overeating, especially if you’re doing a lot of work on training. For example, healthybud Cod Skins are crispy and easy to break into several pieces.
👀 Think about contrast
Look for treats that are easy for your dog to spot – again, this helps them make that speedy connection between the behaviour and the reward.
If you are giving the treat from your hand, pick one in a colour that contrasts with your skin. If your skin is light, choose a dark treat like healthybud Beef Lung. If it’s dark, look for a light one like healthybud Banana Crisps.
Think along the same lines if you’ll be putting the treats on the floor. Pick light or bright colours for dark floors, and dark colours for light floors.
🎉 Add some variety
When you and your dog are working on training, try to have a few different treats on hand – three to five is a good number. This helps keep your pup interested, because they won’t know which tasty reward is coming next!
And if you notice your dog is losing interest in the treats you’re offering during training, don’t be afraid to switch things up.
👃 Pay attention to smell
Dogs have a great sense of smell and just like us, they are attracted to foods that smell great. Soft treats have a stronger smell than hard ones, so look for soft treats with ingredients you know your pup loves. It’ll make them extra motivated!
Smelly treats are extra helpful if you’re using treats for training in an area with a lot of distractions – the smell of a favourite food can help your dog stay focused. For example, healthybud’s Beef Joint Booster is soft and easy to break into smaller pieces.
There’s an exception to the rule about giving treats that can be eaten quickly. If you are training your dog for behaviours that require them to stay still or occupied – for example, staying calm in their crate, passing the time when home alone, or sitting beside you quietly on the couch – look for treats that take a while to eat.
In these cases, a larger chewy treat like healthybud Sweet Potato is a great choice. You can also fill a Kong with a food like natural peanut butter, or give your dog a bully stick.
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
- The healthybud team
DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is not meant to replace your vet’s advice or prescribed medications, but only to suggest additional options to explore, based on your dog’s condition.