I learned many moons ago that treats are essential to a dog training experience.
Treats are dog currency. Dogs eat them, place them in safety deposit boxes throughout the house or the yard in case of emergency, and I’m pretty sure dogs would put up their toys as collateral to apply for a dog treat loan.
You can get a dog to do anything as long as you use food as the motivator. Which is why you need VERY GOOD treats around the house that your dog will love to scarf down. As I’m typing this I keep looking at the photo to the left of me. Look how mesmerized he is. He doesn’t care about the camera or about anything else on the floor, he’s staring right at that Milkbone dog biscuit. That is power right there.
The things dogs do for food – everything from hunting to burial – comes from generations ago when their wolf ancestors scoured the lands in packs, protecting each other and protecting their food. The alpha is always the one who feeds the dogs and has the control in the house. As your dog’s person, your job is to be the pack leader. You can do this without aggression and without making your dog fearful. The key here is positive reinforcement.
Here’s the deal: Dogs have no clue what you are saying. They just know that if you say something loudly, that you got their attention. So when you are training your dog, focus mostly on rewarding good behavior and correcting bad behavior.
If you are nice to your dog and reward him with good things, and show him
that yummy, tasty treats and affection will be found for doing the good things, your dog will not only be obedient, but he will be loyal and loving.
Sebastian knows that when I call him over, he’s going to get either petting, tummy rubs, snuggle-times or food. He knows that he doesn’t need to cower when I approach him. And he and I have figured out how to communicate with one another. He definitely knows where his biscuits are buttered, and here’s a scary-then-heartwarming tale to prove it:
A few weeks ago, my dog ran out into the night, managing to cross one of the busiest streets in town and then walk several blocks, into some areas that were really hard to navigate. It was freezing. I went after him. My mom went after him. He thought we were playing a really cute chasing game, which, for me, was not fun in the least.
After a while of playing this “game” with Sebastian, I, with no leash in hand, simply turned around and walked back to my house. Soon enough, Sebastian realized I wasn’t playing the game anymore. He immediately said, “Hey, wait up!” and started walking beside me. For six blocks we walked together, leashless, until we returned to my house and I had my next door neighbors help in getting him back.
That’s the kind of loyalty you want to instill in your dog. And that’s why you give your dog yummy things to eat: Because he will come back. On other occasions when he’s run out, me and everyone in the house have just decided to throw a little party while leaving the front door open and the glass door closed. We play with his toys, share his treats, and totally ignore him. Within minutes, Sebastian will show up right by the door, looking at us with his puppy-dog eyes and wondering why he wasn’t invited.
In my latest album on my page on Google Plus, I’ve got lots of fun and interactive ways you can use treats to help your dog’s manners and even work his brain. Please head here to give it a look.
Much luck as you work with your dog and make him not the family pet, but a family member. Woof!
This post was compensated as part of a shopper insights study by Collective Bias. All opinions are my own.