Types of Dog Treats

Q: What type of treats do you use in the training process? Our puppy has a hard time with chewing quickly however, it looks like the pups and dogs on your DVD have an easy time with those happy niblets they get for doing a great job!

A: We use chicken, turkey, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, high quality dry treats like “Liver Biscotti,” carrots, and anything else our dogs really like. You can even use dry kibble as a treat if it’s high quality and something your dog really loves. You can also make some homemade treats. There are several books on the market that give recipes.

If your dog isn’t used to getting a certain food, acclimate the digestive system by adding a few bits of the new food to his meals for a few days before using it a lot in the training process.

You want to stay away from most commercial training treats as they contain corn, wheat, sugar, by-products, artificial colors and preservatives and aren’t very healthy. Also, stay away from greasy foods and chocolate. Some dogs have allergies or intolerances to certain foods so monitor for safety.

Treats for Training

Q: Do you always advocate using food treats in training?

A: In the beginning of the dog training process, you need to keep your dog interested in interacting with you rather than the distractions in the environment. Using food treats is very effective in keeping your dog’s attention and then as a reward for behaviors so he will repeat them. Because food is highly desirable to a dog, it is called a primary reinforcer…something hooked up to his physical and emotional “hard drives,” so-to-speak.

The goal is to eventually wean your dog off treats. This is done in two ways. One way is to gradually form a “behavioral chain.” That is, asking your dog to do one behavior after another. For example: sit, treat. Then add another behavior to the chain. Sit, down, treat. Then sit, down, stay, treat. And so on.

The other way to wean your dog off food treats is to use life rewards instead. A life reward is anything other than food that your dog wants. Chasing a ball, going for a ride, going outside, and being petted are all life rewards. Before giving a life reward, simply ask her to do something like sit or lie down. Then you can reward your dog with the life rewards of chasing the ball, going for a ride, letting him go outside or giving him a luxurious petting session.

It’s important to use common sense whenever your dog is around food. If your dog is possessive, out-of-control or overly excited when food is used, err on the side of safety and contact a professional dog trainer before starting any training program. Also, it is especially important that an adult supervises when a child is training a dog, whether with or without food!

Recommended Resource

Liver Biscotti – Wheat/Egg Free Recipe, original bite Size, 8oz.