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TREAT your dog to better health and obedience

TREAT your dog to better health and obedience

Doggiebuddy often gets questions about rewards and treating. An example is this great question from Beverly Rosenthal Metzger.

“I was concerned giving my toy poodle too many little treats. When is it too many since a dog will never turn them down?

Ms. Metzger is right to be concerned about giving too many treats.Dog obesity is a growing problem with serious health consequences for your dog. It is too easy to kill your dog with kindness. So here are some guidelines for using treats.

  1. Use treats for training only. Follow this maxim: never click without treating, never treat without clicking. Treats are an important part of clicker training so use them wisely.
  2. Use a portion of your dog’s regular meals as treats. If he will work for his regular food, he will stay healthier and not get overweight (plus, you will save money on dog treats).
  3. Vary the reward, when you click. Mix in some tasty treats that your dog loves, so that you will keep your dog’s interest. You should also mix in some non food treats to reward the dog. For example you can reward with a toy and a tug game, or give a pat and some encouragement.
  4. Keep food treats small. Four calories or less.
    • For example, don’t give them a whole hot dog as a treat. Divide it into 30 slices and give it one slice (about 4 calories). The point of the treat is not to satisfy your dog’s hunger but to give a pleasant taste to let her know that she did a good job.
    • Non chewy treats are best for training sessions because the dog doesn’t take a long time to eat the treat. Use a chewy treat that your dog loves as a jackpot to reward and end a successful training session.
  5. Remember the goal in training is for the dog to learn the behavior and perform it without any treat. Gradually phase out clicking and treating.

Finally, every rare once in a while break all the rules — show your dog some love just because she’s your dog.

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