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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

7 Reasons Treats Are Essential in Dog Training

Training your furry friend is an exciting journey that forms a strong bond between you and your dog. One of the most effective tools in your training arsenal is the humble treat. While it might seem simple, the act of using treats as rewards is rooted in a profound understanding of canine psychology.


In this blog, we'll explore why treats are a trainer's go-to tool and why they're the equivalent of a paycheck for your dog.

  1. The Science of Dog Training: When it comes to training our four-legged companions, science has shed valuable light on the most effective methods. Research has shown that positive reinforcement and reward-based training significantly outshine punishment-based or balanced approaches in terms of reliability and stress reduction for dogs. Utilizing treats as a form of positive reinforcement taps into the core principles of canine learning and psychology. This approach not only enhances training outcomes but also contributes to fostering a harmonious relationship between you and your furry friend.

  2. The Canine Paycheck: Think about it - we all work for some form of reward, right? The same holds true for our canine companions. When your dog successfully performs a desired behavior, offering a treat immediately after serves as a clear signal that they've done something you approve of. This swift positive feedback reinforces their understanding of what you're asking for, making them more likely to repeat the behavior.

  3. Building a Reward Connection: Utilizing a clicker and treats is a potent method to help your dog grasp the connection between their actions and the positive outcomes they earn. It's vital to clarify that treats in dog training aren't employed to lure or bribe behaviors, but rather to establish a clear and immediate reward system for desired actions. The clicker functions as a marker, indicating to your dog that they have successfully performed a cue. This process ensures that your dog comprehends the link between their actions and the favorable results they achieve. Ultimately, this approach fosters a partnership where your dog actively engages in training, motivated by the anticipation of rewards and the satisfaction of pleasing you.

  4. Building Trust and Confidence: Treats are not just about sustenance; they're about creating positive associations. When your dog receives a treat for doing something right, it's like giving them a pat on the back, saying, "Great job, buddy!" This positive reinforcement builds trust and confidence in your dog. They learn to associate their good behavior with positive outcomes, making them more willing to engage in training and respond to your cues.

  5. Engagement and Focus: Dogs have a natural curiosity and a desire to explore the world around them. Treats offer a delightful incentive that can pique their interest and keep them engaged during training sessions. It's like offering a puzzle piece to complete a picture – treats help your dog stay focused on the task at hand, enhancing their learning experience.

  6. Keeping Training Fun: Imagine if your job offered the same paycheck every day, every year, for the rest of your life regardless of how hard you worked. That wouldn't be very motivating, right? Just as we need variety and incentives to stay engaged, dogs benefit from a range of treats and rewards. Mixing up treats keeps your dog excited about training sessions and ensures that they'll eagerly respond to your cues.

  7. A Gradual Process: As your dog becomes proficient with cues, you can begin to wean them off treats. However, it's important to note that you should never completely eliminate reinforcement. Dogs require intermittent rewards throughout their lives to maintain their skills and motivation. Once your dog reliably responds to cues, you can reinforce intermittently, which helps keep their training sharp and their connection with you strong.

In essence, using treats as a training tool is like offering your dog their very own paycheck. It's a way to say, "Great job, here's your reward!" Treats create positive associations, improve focus, and enhance communication between you and your furry friend. So, next time you're dishing out treats during a training session, remember that you're not just giving a snack – you're providing motivation, trust, and a stronger connection with your beloved pup. Happy training, and bon appétit! 🐕🍖

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