Just like us dogs love a treat. Be it for training or 'just because', not only do they make our dogs feel good, but the positive reaction we receive when treating our pets makes it all the more rewarding. But when do you use dog treats?
The dog food market is filled with all kinds of treats of varying quality with varying purposes which can be overwhelming for dog owners. Here we discuss the different ways treats can be used to support the outcomes you are trying to achieve with your dog.
'Just Because' Treats
Food is a universal language in the dog world. Treats are a great way to show our pets we love them. Dogs are often not picky and the act of giving your pet some food is often a good enough treat in itself. A healthy piece of dog friendly fruit or vegetables is often more than enough. Whilst we want to show the love, remember dog treats should be used as just that, a treat. Subscribing to the 10% rule is a good way to ensure they are not overeating. If you are unsure about the calorie intake for your dog, speak to your local vet for some guidance.
If you are going out or need a bit of time to do some work, treats are a great way to keep your dog stimulated. Importantly, dog treats are not just limited to food and can also be toys or stimulation. As far as your dog is concerned, a chew toy can be just as good if not better than a treat. If your dog is all about food, then dried chews such as kangaroo tendon or dried ears are a great distraction. If you are looking for a longer lasting product, you can't go past deer antlers or bones. Remember harder chew products may not be suitable for certain breeds due to jaw strength or a tendency to 'over chew'. If this is the case, it is always best to double check the suitability for your dog.
Dog treats are an excellent way to encourage or reinforce positive behaviours. Discrete dried dog treats such as Buggy Bix or dried chews work very well as rewards. Keeping some on hand when out and about ensures that external environmental stimuli are always changing thereby minimising any localised associations. Once you have selected the right treat for your dog there is a wealth of information on different training techniques (such as partial reinforcement) which you can employ. Providing you have chosen a suitable dog treat then you have taken the first step to developing your dog's obedience.
Sometimes a bit of comfort is what the dog ordered! In instances where your dog may feel a bit uncomfortable (such as during a thunder storm or living in a new environment), a treat can greatly assist. Dog treats can reduce anxiety and induce a sense of calm. Longer lasting treats such as deer tendons, antlers or hooves are all good options. Remember if your dog is unsettled, nothing beats spending time with them!
Depending on the situation, dog treats can be used for a multitude of purposes. A treat can be in the form of food, a toy or simply attention. When used in moderation, treats can do more than reward or beat boredom. They can bring joy and strengthen the bond between you and your dog!