Tricks for Treats: Training your Dog with Food

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Congrats! You are the newest pet parent in town to an adorable pup. The fun is over, and now you need to begin obedience training. No one wants to raise an ill-mannered dog. Dog parents are increasingly turning to positive reinforcement techniques to teach their pooches new behaviors.

Simply put, positive reinforcement means rewarding your dog immediately after she obeys a command. The reward encourages your dog to repeat the behavior in the future, making this technique effective in changing or shaping your pooch’s behavior. One of the most effective ways to train your dog to be socialized and well -mannered is by using high-value treats. Treats are essential for successful reward-based dog training. Rewarding your puppy or adult dog with treats for good behavior will make them follow your commands faster as they will be looking forward to the goodies.

Successful positive reinforcement is heavily reliant on pinpointing what excites or motivates your puppy most. It’s true that dogs are different but more often than not, food is the primary motivating force. Whether you are a first-time puppy owner or a seasoned owner looking to refine your old dog’s manners, there are plenty of options for treats out there, but this article will focus on training your dog with food. Timing and consistency are key, or your dog may fail to associate a reward with a command.

Why Should I Use Treats for Dog Training? Which Is the Best Treat for Dog Training?

While some dog owners resent the idea of using treats during obedience training, others have no problem using this method to foster a healthy relationship with their dogs. In case you didn’t know, dogs are not naturally programmed to instantly and accurately respond to commands from their owners. You have to go the extra mile to train them to follow commands. It’s simple: if how a dog reacts to your cues and commands leads to rewards, she’s more likely to repeat the act. But if you don’t reward them in any way, she’s less likely to repeat. Using treats to train your dog is a legitimate way of teaching her to be well-behaved, as long as you control the goodie box. Regardless of your dog’s age, they are never too young or too old to learn a new trick. You should, however, avoid giving them treats anytime you feel like. Instead, make them work for their rewards.

While a simple pat or approval is rewarding enough for some dogs, others need more than playtime to be motivated to follow commands. The trick is knowing how to use treats properly. Instead of using dog treats like bribery, use them as training tools to get the behavior you want from your furry companion. When you reward your pooch with treats for commands such as lay down, sit, take your medicine, come, or leave it, he will tend to have more fun and learn faster.

Treats don’t have to be expensive. Just as your paychecks, treats need to be light. They should, however, be thoughtful enough to make your dog excited when it’s time for training. Most dog owners use food as their preferred treat. I haven’t come across any dog that refuses food as a treat. When you are feeding your furry companion, you should keep treats in mind. Overfeeding can lead to problems such as obesity. To avoid this, it is your responsibility to adjust your pup’s regular feedings to give space for treats. Remember it’s perfectly okay to mix play and praise in addition to food.

Picking The Right Food for Treats

Most dog owners ignore this vital consideration and use whatever dog food that comes to mind. Choosing the right kind of treat for training can be daunting as every pup has their own individual preference. Overly salted, saucy, high-calorie/fat and spicy delicacies can give your puppy stomach upsets. This should not be the case. Your dog’s health should come first when shopping for a tasty incentive. While you need to find something that is different from a regular diet, it should be a healthy option. Your treats should also be small and easily swallowed. Provided your preferred food is sufficiently appealing to your dog, she can be prompted to follow commands.

It’s now easier than ever to find snacks that are meant explicitly for dogs from online stores such as Amazon. Before you settle on one snack, scrutinize the ingredients to find the ones not suitable for your dog. Some dogs are either allergic to certain ingredients or have sensitive stomachs. As a general rule of the thumb, try to avoid snacks with artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. Find a few favorites for your pooch and alternate the snacks regularly. This way, it will be easier to keep your dog’s interest longer.

Steps to Training Your Dog with Food

After picking one or two favorite treats that excite your pup, it’s now time to have a look at the actual training. The steps below should point you in the right direction. Read on to discover how to properly use food as treats with the lure and reward method.

  1. Approach your dog with a treat hidden in your bag or pockets.
  2. Give your dog a command and hold the food a bit above her head. Avoid repeating commands if your pup doesn’t respond immediately.This will only show the pup that repetitions are okay before she obeys a command.
  3. Ensure that the treat is within your dog’s view. You can lower the food to her nose in your closed hand. She will know it’s there even if she can’t eat it at that time.
  4. Pull the treat from above their head toward the ground while giving her a command.
  5. If she obeys your command, congratulate her (“good girl” or “yes” in a happy tone can work) and give her the treat. Your dog will learn to associate the praise with the pleasure of atreat. You can alternatively give her an affectionate pat instead of verbal praise.
  6. Repeat the above steps a few times in a day.


Self-control does not come naturally to puppies – they need to be taught. Food treats are arguably the best dog training tool in an obedience trainer’s arsenal. As your pooch gets used to the idea, gradually fade out the first lure and alternate the rewards to avoid bribing. Be careful not to over-reward as this will make the foods lose their magical appeal. Once your pup starts responding correctly, you can begin phasing out food.

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