All Things Dog

How Are You Using Treats and Rewards?

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It's natural for dog owners to use treats and rewards when they're training their dogs. Many times this strategy works fine, but, in some cases, the opposite may happen: the dog has the owner well trained to give him treats.

That can be the case if your dog will only do something if he sees a yummy treat in your hand, waiting for him at the end. In that case, he won't perform a desired behavior unless he thinks he's going to get a treat.

Take control of the situation

Rewarding your dog is a very important part of the ongoing training process. It provides an opportunity to let your dog know how much you like it when he exhibits good behavior. But the key to using rewards with your dog is that you're always the one who's in control. And remember, giving a treat isn't the only way to reward your dog. You can also reward him with affection and praise.

Keys to successful rewarding

Timing is everything. Rewards work best when they're unexpected, and immediately follow the desired behavior or response. And remember, reward only one behavior at a time.

Match the reward to the action. In other words, small rewards for small feats, big rewards for more difficult tasks. You should also take your dog's breed into consideration, especially when it comes to physical endeavors. A small dog isn't going to be able to accomplish certain things as easily as a big dog could—no matter how big the treat/reward you've planned.

Have a variety of rewards to choose from. There are so many ways you can show your dog that you're proud of him. Everything from verbal praise, a hug, or a favorite toy, to a new ball or even a nice massage.

Use food treats wisely. Showing your dog pure love and affection will go far in strengthening the bond between you. The important thing about using rewards is to get your dog to respond to you, not a treat.

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