Dog Training – To Treat Or Not To Treat – That is the Question

There are really only two paths to take in dog training:  compulsion training (hands on shaping the dog’s body to sit or down) or inducement training.  I train using both methods.  It all depends on the dog and if some dogs will not work for food.  I say, if the end result is the same, who cares?

Feeding Your Dog

Feeding Your Dog

Without getting into extended sits, downs, stays or “proofing” your dog around distractions, here’s my take on treat training:

Many trainers say that using food treats (inducement) is not good because you always have to carry around food treats to get your dog to perform.  What they don’t tell you is what they don’t know!  That is simply, treat training is a process of teaching with food at first, then weaning the dog off food treats so that he is performing for you without the treats!

The trick which most people are not taught is the “weaning off” part of treat training.  They get stuck with a dog that will only work for food.  Once your dog is successfully performing a sit, start treating every other time, then every third time and begin to get 4 and 5 sits in a row and only treat after the second, third, fourth of fifth time – then off food treats.  This is called variable treating.

The other key is to not have food treats in your hand.  Dogs burn an image or picture in their mind that the activity of “sits or downs” is something they do with you when you have a food treat in your hand.  Dogs can also learn the same concept with you without a food treat in your hand. 

Help them with this concept by leaving the treats in your treat bag, zip lock bag or on the counter.

In summary:  1.  REWARD with treats each time you shape a new behavior.  2.  ONCE you can anticipate the behavior, introduce a verbal command and hand signal and 3.  THIS IS THE KEY:  start variable treating with no food treats in your hand.

Simple really.   Nikki going to place  Here’s a video of me training alternating treats


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  1. […] a treat.  Now as many of you know, I am adamant about weaning off food treats (see my blog post on To Treat or Not to Treat, that is the Question).  By the end of the two weeks, a simple Good Boy was the reward for […]

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