Using Food Rewards in Dog Training

Food rewards in dog training are an excellent motivator, especially during puppy training. You can utilize your dog’s love for food to your benefit by using it as a reward during dog training.

Food Rewards in Dog Training

Here are the “do’s” and “don’ts” of food rewards to help prevent errors during training.

Give Your Dog Small, Frequent Food Rewards in Dog Training

Before you begin training your pup, it is essential that you prepare the treats or other food rewards you will use. Be sure that the pieces are small to prevent your dog from consuming extra calories and gaining weight. You can also use more healthy food choices, such as low-fat dog treats, apple pieces (without stem, seed, leaf), and frozen green beans.

Avoid Making Food Rewards Part of the Training Cue

One common error individuals make when using food in dog training is to use the same hand to hold the treat and to make the signal. If you do this, your dog will believe that the reward is part of the cue. The result is that the puppy only tends to obey when there is a food reward involved. To avoid this, follow these steps:

  1. When first teaching a command, you may use the same hand to give both the signal and the treat a few times.
  2. After a few attempts, make use of one hand to give the command and the other to give the treat.
  3. Then keep treats in your pockets, in a bag, on a countertop, or in any other place that your puppy will not expect the reward to come from.
Puppy Training: Building Your Puppy’s Confidence

Give the Food Reward While Your Dog is in the Proper Position

Another point to keep in mind when using food rewards is that the treat should be given where you want your dog to be. For instance; if you ask your pup to heel, you need to give the treat while they are in the position, right beside you. This will help your puppy understand the command much faster and they will be encouraged to obey. Giving the treat after your dog has obeyed and is sitting right in front of you is ineffective and definitely will confuse him as they will not know what they are being rewarded for.

Food Rewards In Dog Training Need To Become Less Frequent as Your Dog Improves

When your dog is obeying a particular command 90% of the time, regular food rewards are no longer required. It is now time to begin varying and replacing rewards with things, such as verbal praise, petting, a game of fetch, a massage, or anything else they find rewarding.

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