As mentioned in the initial dog training post, I will be covering a number of training methods to hopefully help you find the method best suited for you and your canine companion. This is Method I: Treat Training
Treat training is considered one of the easiest and more basic form of dog training. The basis for treat training is positive and immediate reward upon successful completion of a task. The end goal of this method is to decrease and in the end, eliminate the need/reliance on treats due to the concept that the more often you reward your dog for good behavior, the more inclined they are to comply with future commands with or without the reward.
As with any training method, there are a few factors to consider.
1. Size of treat
2. Type of treat
3. Risk of Weight Gain
For the size of treat, you will want to keep it small, kibble sized or smaller (think dime size or smaller). This will help prevent your dog from getting full quickly and also keep their weight in check which is a big downside to treat training. Below are some examples of dog training treats.
**Pictures are also links for purchase if desired**
Second thing to consider with treat training is the type of treat. Training treats may not be the best choice for an already overweight dog, or if your dog is a picky eater. Finding a reward that is both motivating, yet not calorie dense is going to be the biggest hurtle you face when selecting your treat. If you want to continue with treat training, but are concerned about weight consider some of the following alternatives:
1. Ice Cubes
2. Raw carrots
3. Green beans
4. Low fat/diet dog food kibble
If your dog tends to be a more picky eater or does not seem as food motivated, consider some of these alternatives OR you may need to pick a different training method that better suits your dog's personality. Keep in mind that these alternatives are much more calorie dense and your dog's weight will need to be carefully monitored as to prevent obesity.
2. Hot dog
The third factor that can be an issue with treat training is weight gain and obesity. Since you are using treats as a reward, you will be feeding your dog more food overall everyday, even though it may not feel like it. Using the charts below, you can keep a close eye on your dog's weight & adjust their food as needed to maintain an ideal body score.
Keep in mind if you do find your dog gaining weight, cutting back the amount of food in the bowl during meal times is the easiest way to start weight loss/weight management. Filler foods (raw carrots & green beans) can be used to increase the amount that your dog is eating without increasing calorie count significantly.
**Feel free to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian with further questions or to have a body condition exam.**
In conclusion, lets go over the pros & cons of this training method:
1. Easy to work with (no human training needed)
2. Relatively inexpensive
3. Uses positive re-enforcement
4. Does not require physical force & negative behavior correction
1. Dependence on treats for positive behavior
2. May take more time than other methods to master commands
3. Risk of weight gain
Keep in mind, as with all of these methods, what works for one dog may not work for another dog. You may try one method only to find your dog does not respond well, or it does not work for your training schedule. You may also decide to train basic commands with one method but use a different method for off leash or more advanced training commands (like hunting or agility).