When we take our Pre-Prep Puppy classes (aged 8-16 weeks old) we use positive reinforcement by way of rewarding the pup when they show us the correct behaviour when asked. When we ask for a sit and the pup sits, we say good girl/boy and reward with a treat.
Sounds simple enough, but when there can be so much going on around them – other dogs, a passing motorbike, a squirrel in the tree, gorgeous smells from fast food outlets etc owners tend to find that the treat that worked at home suddenly isn’t ‘good enough’ when in class. This is so true and I explain to owners that they should bring their ‘A Game’ treats for exactly this reason.
I always start the training with the kibble my dogs eat at home, but then also carry at least another two different treats to use when the kibble loses its appeal. People always ask what is the best treat to use and as with people, dogs are all different and you will have to see what does and doesn’t work for your own dog.
On top of their day to day kibble, I use small pieces of chicken polony from the supermarket and then also liver bread which I make myself. (I will share this recipe soon).
As a rule of thumb, when training your dog try to use moist, smelly and easy digestible treats. Remember a treat should be small in size otherwise you may find that you have managed to make your dog full after only a few minutes of training.
If you use ‘human food’ always make sure it does not contain anything that could harm your dog. I will be doing a blog about dangerous things to keep away from your dog another day.
I also would not want your pup to gain weight by using too many treats on top of their daily meals. I suggest when you have the time to train and are not rushing out somewhere, take half of their meal away and put this in your treat bag and then you are not adding more food to their daily intake.
I hope that was of some use – in class I often ask people to make their own treats and then bring them to class and we all share them to see what works. It is a fun thing to do and dogs do like variety – especially in busy new environments. If you have something that does the trick for your dog, please share it with me. Would love to hear from you.