My last blog post showed you why you should treat your dog, but we need to be careful we are using our treats effectively so our dogs don’t get complacent about them!
My top tip for using dog treats effectively is to think about levels of treats.
The first level is for the boring treats, like your dog’s kibble or a piece of carrot. You should use these for things your dog already knows and finds easy, like a sit in your home.
These are slightly more interesting treats, like a JR training treat. It is better than the level one treats, but not amazing.
Use these for things your dog is able to do but needs a bit of extra motivation. For example, learning a new simple trick or doing a sit in your garden where there are more distractions.
These are the amazing treats that your dog LOVES! For example, JR Pate or fresh chicken.
These should be reserved for things your dog finds hardest, such as recall or loose lead walking. Or for doing tricks in high distraction environments.
1. Get to know your dog’s levels
Every dog will have their own favourite treats so take the time to get to know what your dog’s favourites are and which level they go in.
Have at least three different treats in each level so you can vary them…
2. Vary Your Treats
If you are using the same level three treat for loose lead walking every day, your dog will get bored of it. So, you need to vary it with a different level three treat to keep their interest.
For example, for two days you use JR Salmon Pate as the level three treat. The next day you switch to JR Turkey Pate. The next day you go back to the Salmon Pate.
This will help to keep those level three treats special.
3. Work on moving down the levels
You will be able to move back down the levels once your dog is used to performing a behaviour.
For example, if your dog is struggling with recall you will need to start with the level three treats for this. However, as their recall improves with training, you can gradually start giving them a level two treat for this from time to time. Then, as their recall improves further, you can move to the level one treats. Eventually, they will be able to come back to you with only an occasional reward.
What are your dog’s treat levels!?
Did you know you can buy a range of healthy treats at the Rosy Paws Shop?
Links and References
American Kennel Club: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/dog-training-treats/
Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
Greenebaum, J.B., 2010. Training dogs and training humans: Symbolic interaction and dog training. Anthrozoös, 23(2), pp.129-141.
Rooney, N.J. and Cowan, S., 2011. Training methods and owner–dog interactions: links with dog behaviour and learning ability. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 132(3-4), pp.169-177.