Many dog owners know about the importance of using treats in training, but others wonder why this is so important. Critics of using treats claim that it is a form of bribery, but is this really the case when you're training a dog? What are some good reasons for using treats?
Positive Reinforcement Always Makes a Difference
Many parents reward their kids for good grades or behavior with many or other treats - that's a form of positive reinforcement. Dogs are particularly responsive to positive reinforcement methods like praise or treats because they have a natural desire to please members of their "pack."
Best Practices for Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement helps encourage good behavior and teach your dog commands more effectively. Examples include giving a dog a treat for chewing on a toy instead of a shoe, a pat or "good dog" for lying quietly, or pats and treats for sitting quietly before being fed or let out.
Never reward your dog for bad behavior, such as letting him or her out every time they start barking. When your dog associates a rewarding action with bad behavior, they feel encouraged to persist in the bad behavior.
Use Simple Commands and Good Timing
Speaking to your dog in sentences they can't understand will have no effect. Keeping your commands confined to simple words like "sit", "stay", "come" will make a better impact.
It's also important to offer the reward within seconds of the good behavior so the dog makes the connection. Using a clicker is a good way to maximize the impact of the reward because he or she will associate the behavior with the clicker sound and the reward.
Using rewards for your dog's good behavior will help ensure that he or she understands what they are supposed to do when you give a command a lot more easily. Taking the time to use positive reinforcement will mean a happier, better-behaved dog.
What is your dog's favorite training treat? Leave a comment below.
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