Lets talk about treats!

Not all treats are created equal !

Lets talk about treats, they can make all the difference in training – and (in the early stages) we will be using a lot of treats so its worth finding out what your dog likes.

I like wine (and chocolate, but mainly wine :0) – I know it’s not particularly good for me, so I try not to drink it all the time. I’ll often do a deal with myself, so, for example – if I cut the lawn (a task I don’t really enjoy) I will ‘reward’ myself with a glass of wine (or two). If the only thing on offer was a glass of warm tap water my motivation to cut the lawn may not be as high.

Our dogs have preferences as well, in terms of the treat they will work hard for. Some will happily work all day for a piece of kibble (ask any Labrador!), for others the only thing worth getting out of bed for is a lovely chewy piece of liver cake.

What is motivating for our dog is up to them !

It’s important to remember that the more we ask of them the higher the value of the treat needs to be for them.

Lets look at recall. When we are practising at home, where it’s pretty boring, a low value treat will work well because we aren’t ‘competing’ against lots of distractions. When we get to the park we have to really up the treat value so that it is worth while our dogs coming back to us.

Have a play with your dog and see which treats float their boat. Try something they know, like a sit – have a few practices with a low level treat (kibble maybe). Then try with something high value eg. Cheese – does their bum hit the floor quicker for the cheese ? -If it does, bingo, you have found your dogs high value treat – it’s a powerful thing so use it sparingly (in situations where they may struggle to stay focussed for a lower level treat).

Low value treat examples:

  • Kibble
  • Carrots
  • Peas

High value treat examples:

  • Hot dogs
  • Cheese
  • Liver cake
  • Dehydrated liver / meat
  • Cooked chicken.
  • Bought treats

The trick is to experiment and see which your dog prefers.