Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Treat Dilemma

Simply put, treat rewards are a fail-proof method for teaching your dog to do a number of tricks and obey commands. They are an essential part of training. Unfortunately, if your cuddly canine is only motivated by food as a reward for good behavior you run the risk of creating a treat-reliant pup or a somewhat obese dog. If you need to wean your dog off their dependency on treats, but still want them to listen and comply with your instructions, try these techniques.

-Discover what else motivates your dog besides food. Perhaps a scratch behind the ears or a game of ball. Start to incorporate these rewards into your training by providing other means of compensation. For every other trick your dog successfully completes, throw a favorite chew toy or wrap your arms around your dog, providing lots of love and cuddles.

-If your dog tends to favor healthier snacks like carrots, take advantage of that and substitute them for treats.

-Portion control is essential. Break the treats into smaller pieces.  If your dog eats kibble at meals, use one piece of kibble per obeyed trick and reduce that amount from what you normally feed at mealtime.

-In the summertime why not try ice cubes which are crunchy, hydrating, and can keep Fido occupied? 

There are an overwhelming number of dog treats, biscuits, cookies, and chewy bones available for our beloved pets, and with their enthusiasm for this special reward, it can be downright difficult to navigate the shoulds and should nots of our dog's delicacies. Treats are vital for training but also a main culprit of dog obesity. So apply the same rules you do to your own weight loss goals such as moderation, healthy when possible and experiential rewards (petting and praise) over food, and both you and your dog will want to wag your tails!


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