Picking The Right Rewards To Use In Dog Training
When it comes to dog training rewards new trainers seem to put little thought into what they should use, but from a dog training point of view, it’s a very important aspect of training. For 15 years I have the honor of teaching a 4-H club and one first thing I focus on is the correct food reward and the size of the reward. When kids first join my class it seems their parents go to the pet store and perches just any ordinary treat and because it was bought at a pet store it should work just fine. One first thing I explain is pet product companies are in the business of making money so it’s important that they market to the human eye. Here’s an example, if you look at most dog treat packages you will see pictures of meat, vegetables, and fruits. The packages will also be colorful and will feature a dog that looks like he or she is really hungry for that company’s product. I have even seen these companies make treats in the shape of steak and strips of beacon just to persuade you the consumer that your dog will like this product more than any other product. In truth your dog is really not that picky, I imagine if you bought 5 different dog treats and lined them up on the ground and released your dog he or she would eat all of them without any discretion towards one certain treat over the others. Now with that said dogs can prefer certain treats over others but the dog does look at particular treats and go “wow that treat looks like it would taste good” or when the walking your dog through the pet store he or she doesn’t stop and say “oh-oh I want those” much like a child would because of a certain type of packages grabs their attention.
So when you're hunting for a treat to use as training bait do not base what you use on fancy packaging, shape or that there is a picture of a dog on it is dueling
If you're new to dog training one of the most important things you will learn is timing is everything; everything from the timing of the reward is being given and timing on repeating the exercise. Here’s a quick example, if you are teaching your dog how to bark on command and your dog barks when you tell him or her “speak” and you wait 30 seconds to reward him or her, your dog is going to have a much slower learning curve, in other words, it will take him or her longer to learn what you are trying to teach him or her. Yet if you reward your dog at the very moment he or she does the desired action, your dog will have a much easier time mastering that particular command. So how does the correct training food coincide with timing in regards to training your dog? As previously discussed timing is critical in teaching a certain behavior, timing helps mark a behavior and helps the dog connect the dots quicker. In the same token, using the correct food also helps the dog connect the dots quicker.
Now let’s talk about the “value” in certain dog treats compared to others. Understanding treat value is crucial when working with puppies and young dogs that are just beginning their training. Treat value is simply based on the dog's willingness to perform for certain treats over others. A good way to test what treats have the great value is to take your dog to a location where they will be heavily stimulated, other words to a park with people walking by or by a house where a dog is behind a fence. Once a good location is scouted out, take a couple different types of treats and see which one or which ones your dog is more willing to nibble at your hand for instead of focusing on the stimulate. Depending on your dog you may not want to be too close to the distraction at first because it might overwrite any type of reward, instead work from a distance first.
In some way dogs are much like people and get tired of the same treats all the time, so when your training have a couple different types of treats in your pouch so your dog is never sure of what treat they will receive next. So to recap what we have talked about, first remember to pick a training food that your dog likes and do not pick one that has fancy packaging. Second, choose high value treats to train with, not just treats your dog will eat but treats your dog goes nuts for. Third, always be mixing what types of food you use in training, this is important to maintain your dog's food drive and also keep them also guessing what they may receive next.
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