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Are You Selecting and Utilizing Treats Appropriately?

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Watch out for the treat’s power! Whether on purpose or not, actions will probably become stronger or occur more often when combined with a reward.

Let’s say your dog eats a butter wrapper and a pork chop bone after tipping over the trash container. You pay for an expensive veterinary emergency visit and tidy the kitchen. You discover out that your dog will be okay physically, but you still have an issue. The next day, when you return from work, your kitchen is covered with garbage. Consequently, you end up leaving the trash can on the counter before you go. However, when you go back, there’s trash all the way from the kitchen to the front door. Now that you’ve established a problem, it will be more difficult for you to stop your dog from engaging in the undesirable behavior since it has been reinforced repeatedly.

This tragic story effectively highlights the consequences that might arise when a dog self-rewards. Consider how many times a gambler would play a slot machine in an attempt to win the big prize. However, you may take use of the treat’s power.

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Selecting a Treat

The simplest way to give your dog a reward is to take a piece of his usual supper; that way, you can just subtract that amount from his daily allocation without running the danger of giving him too few or too many calories. His normal food may not be stimulating enough for training, however, if you are utilizing special goodies in your program.

Depending on the dog, yes. Try a meat-based or jerky-style treat, maybe in a beef or salmon taste, if yours is in the pickier category. For most dogs, this is appealing. Try a few different treats until you discover one that your dog is excited to work for, then save it for training sessions exclusively.

Something to keep your dog busy while you are gone is the other kind of treat you may want to have on hand. This may be a hard chew, a food-filled toy, or a few tiny dry treats arranged as a treasure hunt throughout the space.

But this is not likely to assist if your dog has separation anxiety. It’s likely that he won’t be interested in eating until you get back. Trying to avoid leaving him alone and gradually desensitizing him to your departure is the only thing you can do.

Taking Care of Their Own Treats

Recall that any activity is likely to become more frequent or intense when it is rewarded with a treat. This may help you teach your dog the instructions you want him to learn, such as come, sit, or down. Let’s choose the sit and recall as the two behaviors that the majority of dog owners would want to see. With the sit being almost motionless and the recall needing an auditory marker so you can reward the right behavior from a distance, each benefits from a different training approach.

Teaching the sit with incentives is quite simple. Move a reward back over your dog’s head while holding it between your fingers. Give the reward to the dog as soon as he begins to curl into a sit. You’re holding the reward too high if he leaps up rather than sits down, and you’re hanging on to it too long if he’s up and moving when you give it to him. You’ll encourage more of the behavior you want to praise when the moment is right.

Evaluate your training course as you go. Your dog’s reaction should be quickening if the sole behavior you’re training is sit. But until you make an effort to make the sit last longer, it won’t become anything of value. A dog that can do more than simply sit will be what you really desire. Thankfully, the process is straightforward: Just hold off on giving him the goodie. You’re asking him to accomplish too much at once if the behavior breaks down. Return to rewarding right away, but every now and again give it a half-second’s grace. This should not affect the sit, and you may progressively increase the delay.

However, a new issue has emerged. When the activity is over, you must be able to signal to your dog. Pick a phrase that conveys the idea that “we’re done here; go ahead and do whatever you want.” This is true for every action. I choose the term “release” because I find it simple to remember and since it isn’t often used in speech.

This is how your training session should now go: You use a reward to get your dog to sit, then you give him the treat, say your release word, and give him a little period of attention. The dog remains attentive and settles into a sit, eager to get more rewards. You take a little break before giving another goodie right away. You give him a third goodie after another wait, and then you speak your release word. You can do around a dozen repeats, varying things up a little by adding a few fast and simple sits.

I hear you wondering, “When can I say sit?” right now. Or perhaps—and this is a bad idea—you’ve been saying it all along. In reality, adding a verbal cue is a technical aspect of training that might fill a whole other post.

Using a Marker to Use Treats

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The recall works well when combined with goodies and a marker, which is a positive signal you may give your dog from a distance. Using the marker, you want to first communicate to him that racing toward you is a desirable action, and that the last, rewarding activity is truly coming.

Selecting the marker you’ll use is necessary. It may be a new term that will go forward to imply “I like what you’re doing and it will be rewarded,” or it could be a clicker or another gadget. The meaning of the term should never be altered.

The recall training sequence differs somewhat from the sit routine. Initially, present yourself as the most captivating object in the space to increase the likelihood that your dog will approach you. Use your marker once he’s in your direction. Use the goodie to get him to halt and remain as he approaches you. If your dog runs in front of you, the recall won’t do much good. When he gets there, you want to be able to snap on a leash and take charge. So give him the reward, fasten the leash, and spend a few moments interacting with him. After that, take off the leash, use the release word, and let him go.

In this instance, distance and diversions rather than length are your hurdles. Losing the leash will be the toughest step if you decide to teach your dog on a leash because you believe he is out of control. I think that your dog will probably be able to distinguish between being free and connected regardless of what you try—long lines, ultra-light lines, grab tabs—so the recall may not function when you really need it. First, try teaching him indoors without a leash.

Another major obstacle to overcome will be distractions. It will take all your patience to get through a list of diversions that become progressively longer. In order to maintain the dog’s attention, use your marker. No matter how much you may want to, do not dash toward the dog; you will just drive him away. Dogs love to enjoy the game of chasing, and he will play with you for as long as he can.

You can very much learn all there is to know about employing incentives and markers by training a dependable recall. If you encounter difficulties, try to be patient, go more slowly, and take a step backward before continuing. Manage environmental obstacles for as long as you are able. It will be difficult to advance if you start memory training with squirrels scurrying about.


Victoria is a passionate pet enthusiast and seasoned writer at With a deep love for animals and years of experience in pet care, she shares valuable insights, tips, and stories to help fellow pet owners nurture and understand their furry friends better.

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