By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 07/02/2020, edited: 07/02/2020
Training your canine compadre can be tricky business. Every budding dog trainer knows the best way to teach a woofer a trick or command is by using treats as reinforcement. Teaching Fido commands like “sit” and “stay” is much easier when they know they're getting a delicious reward.
With tons of Scooby snacks available that your pup is sure to love, it’s tough to pick the right ones for your four-legged friend. Ideally, you'll want your training treats to be low-fat so your pupper doesn't pile on the pounds during your training sessions. You'll also want to make sure the treats don't contain anything that'll give your hound an allergic reaction.
Picking the best treats for training is a little different than just choosing a snack your dog loves. Here's all the information you'll need to make your pupper's training a rousing success.
Soft treats. The best way to reinforce a command is through quick repetition. As a result, you'll want something your pooch can scoff down quickly. By picking a soft dog treat to train Sparky, you can ensure there won't be any long “pawses” during training while your mutt is chewing.
Small treats. You'll want to pick a small snack that doesn't slow down your training session. Not only are small snacks more effective for training, but they'll help keep your dog in shape, as they'll be eating less.
Smelly treats. With lots of distractions around, it can be tough to keep your woofer focused on the task at hand. For most dogs, the smellier the treat, the better. By using an especially smelly treat during training, you'll be able to keep your dog's attention, which is very useful if you're participating in group classes.
Large treats. You'll want to steer clear of large treats as these will take your dog longer to eat, which will slow down your training. Large treats can also be cumbersome to carry, and you'll ideally want a handful of treats that fit in your pocket.
Crunchy treats. Crunchy treats tend to take dogs a long time to chew. The occasional small hard biscuit can be used in training if they're your dog's favorite, but in general, try to stick to softer foods.
Perishable treats. A lot of pet parents will carry some treats in their pocket for some impromptu training exercises. As a result, you won't want to carry anything that goes bad quickly. When trying your dog, try to pick something that’s been dehydrated or freeze-dried, as these treats tend to keep for longer.
Cheese is one of the most commonly used foods in dog training as it’s soft, smelly, and can be cut up into tiny pieces. If you're using cheese to train your dog, try to mix it up with a healthier snack, as cheese is high in fat and could upset your dog's stomach.
Not many dogs can resist the allure of a hot dog. They’re also great for training as they're soft, easy to break up, and don't go bad as quickly as other meats.
Strong-scented dried meats like venison and duck are great options for dog training. Dried meats are ideal because they won't go off as quickly as cheese and other scraps. Just make sure to cut the dried meat into small pieces. Otherwise, they might take a while for your dog to chew.
If you're reviewing commands you’ve already worked on, chances are you won't want to feed your dog high-calorie foods like cheese and meat. These are meant to provide a tasty incentive for new or complex commands. Soft dog biscuits or even kibble are excellent for basic obedience training, as pieces are small and aren't loaded down with calories. Just make sure to adjust your woofer's next meal accordingly.
Discover your dog's favorite treats. All dogs value certain treats more than others, so you may want to try a taste-test to see which treats your dog likes the best. A great way to accomplish this is by holding a treat in each hand and letting your dog smell. Whichever one your dog takes an interest in is almost certainly the one they prefer.
Vary your dog's treats. If you're using the same treats in every training session, your pup may lose interest. Try to vary up your dog’s treats every once in a while to keep your pup on their paws.
A soft, smelly food in bite-size pieces is the best dog treat for training your pup. Try not to give your pooch high-calorie snacks like cheese and meat for every training session. Remember, you'll be giving them lots of treats during each session, which could make them put on weight. Soft treats and kibble are great for training as they won't upset your dog's stomach and contain fewer calories.
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