Should You Reward a Dog with Dog Training Treats and Food?

Dog training treats and food

The key to the best dog training is to reward your dog for its good behavior.  There are many ways to reward your dog for this behavior. 

My dog, Romeo, responds fairly well to a toy as a reward.  But nothing works as well as

Dog Training Treats and Food

Romeo and Scott

dog  training treats and food.  You see, my little fellow loves to eat.  Nothing gets the message across better than a treat, no matter how small.

He will do anything for food.  He will even do some dog tricks if he is rewarded with something tasty.

I read an article on rewarding good behavior with dog training treats and food.  It is found in the excellent blog,  The title of the article is “Clicker Training with Treats: Why Food Is a Great Motivator” by Casey Lomonaco.

Ms. Lomonaco agrees that some type of food is a great motivator.  She lists 5 reasons why food is a great reward for your dog’s good behavior.  She also lists several things other than food that can be used as a reward.

The quote below lists 3 of those reasons:

When I’m clicker training dogs, I use food — a lot — to train new behaviors. Often, my clients are skeptical when we begin working together, saying “My dog isn’t really food-motivated. Do we have to use food?” While you don’t have to use food to train a dog, there are a few reasons it tends to work well.

Why Use Food?

1. It’s fast. Small and soft treats (the stinkier the better!) work best for training because they are quickly consumed, and then you’re on to the next repetition. Hard, crunchy, or large treats (biscuits, kibble, etc.) can also work well, but they slow down your Rate of Reinforcement (how many reinforcements your dog earns in a given period) and therefore slow down learning, because dogs spend too much time chewing and not enough time doing.

2. It’s a primary reinforcer. Dogs need food to survive!

3. There are many choices. From kibble to canned dog food to bits of sandwich meat, Cheerios, and hot dogs, there are many reinforcement options within the family of “food,” and our choices will affect our training results. I tell clients and seminar attendees that all of the treats should have jobs. They can be used to increase or decrease arousal (and focus), to reset the dog for the next reinforcement opportunity, to set the dog in position, etc.

The entire article can be read here.

I encourage you to read the complete article to see the list of all 5 reasons and the list of alternative rewards.

I agee with the author that soft treats are best to use since your dog can chew them easily.  You don’t have to use expensive dog treats.  Instead, you can use very small bites of hot dogs, cheese, or luncheon meat.

What works best for you?  Do you reward your dog with dog treats and food?  Or have you found there are other things just as effective for your dog?


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