Ask The Dog Guide: Using Treats During Training

September 8th, 2009 by Dan

I am the owner of a 12 week-old mixed breed puppy and I’ve heard that if I use treats during training that she’ll always be looking for a treat. How can I train her without using treats forever?

Congratulations on your new puppy and THANK YOU for asking this question! When you are teaching a dog – young or old – a new command or behavior, positive reinforcement with a food reward as soon as your dog repeats the desired behavior is the best way for your dog to quickly pick up that new skill.

Once your dog understands the command, stop giving a treat every time. Mix it up and give your dog a treat occasionally and verbal praise other times. The rational behind intermittent reinforcement is that your dog continues to work for the chance that something wonderful is going to happen (the yummy treat!) when he follows through with the behavior. Think of it like us humans sitting at slot machines! We repeatedly pop quarters into the slot at the small chance that one of these times we’ll be rewarded with the big payoff!

Pit Bull Sitting For Treat

Photo by carrie loves puppies

Now, if you were to give your dog a treat every time he completed a command, that would be bribery. He would come to expect a treat and likely fail to repeat the command if one wasn’t given.

Treat your dogs! Get out there and teach your puppy (or dog!) something new – with the help of some tasty goodies, I promise your pooch will be motivated to get to work!

One Response to “Ask The Dog Guide: Using Treats During Training”

  1. Chloe Says:

    wow! this such a wonderful blog! thanks Dan for the great answer :)

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