What Treats Should I Use?

Polly and Iris’s families have both recently asked me about training treats.

Polly is a Foodie

Originally Polly was only motivated by french fries.  Fresh french fries are actually a great treat in small amounts.  Polly was over them though and back to freezing up on her walks. I suggested switching to hamburger or cheeseburger.  These foods are really high in sodium, so you shouldn’t use them forever.  Or make them at home without salt. Polly lives very close to a fast food burger joint, so it was easy for her parents to switch treats. This solved her issue entirely.  Over time, her parents will give her bits of hamburger more sporadically.  Eventually she won’t need them for quiet streets at all anymore.  She’ll probably always need something for big scary streets, motorcycles, or cars that backfire.

Iris Eats Everything

Iris is happy with dry dog treats. She’s been more picky lately with her parents. I suggested that they buy a bag of Kiwi Kitchen Air Dried Lamb Dinner. They’re shaped in little flat squares so you don’t need to break them up. Lamb Dinner is a complete dog food, so you can really easily use them as a substitute in your dog’s diet.  I also really like the freeze dried minnows.  I save them for harder tasks or especially cute smiles!

Payment vs Bribes

With treat training, always be sure that you’re counting the treats against your dog’s caloric intake for the day.  Treats are payment for a job well done, not a bribe.  Bribes happen before behavior; payment happens after behaviour. You wouldn’t do your job for free, you shouldn’t expect your dog to either. You need to pay better for a more difficult task.  For easier tasks, you can pay less often or less well.  Many dog trainers don’t feed their dog out of a bowl at all.  All calories come in the form of payment for behaviours we’d either like to see more of, see generalized to other similar behaviors, or see more often in the future.

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