Just like us, dogs absolutely love treats - they’re delicious and a positive sign that your pup is doing great! In fact, while treats are mostly used when training our dogs, they’re also used to keep our dogs happy and even as healthy supplements to go with their dog food.
With so many choices and so many ways to give our pups treats, the first thought you might have is whether there is a right way to give your dog treats? What’s the best treat to give your dog? What are some things to pay attention to when you’re giving your dog treats? Let’s take a look at how you should be treating your pup!
Types of Treats
There are tonnes of treats on the market - they come in all shapes, sizes and textures, from baked dog treats to frozen dog treats. While different dogs have different preferences, it’s also important to understand the purpose of different treats.
Crunchy Treats - Hard treats like peanut butter dog cookies are great everyday rewards for your dog. They might be a little messy, especially if they’re too big, so they may not be suitable for training treats. Treats like Grandma Lucy’s Organic Oven Baked Coconut Treats are great crunchy treats, especially since it also helps boost your pup’s energy, digestion and joint health.
Soft Treats - These chewy treats are great for training because of their small size and soft texture. This way, you’re able to feed your pup treats quickly and easily during training to provide instant positive reinforcement. The small size and delicious taste of Wellness’ Turkey, Pomegranate & Ginger Petite Soft Mini Bites make them really suitable for training because they’re easy to use but delicious.
Freeze-dried/Jerky Treats - One of the tastiest types of treats, these freeze-dried treats are similar to human jerky and are great sources of protein. Because of how long it takes most pups to consume these, these treats are more suitable for occasional high value treats than they are for everyday or training treats. If your pup’s birthday is coming soon, a great birthday treat is BARE’s Australian Premium Pork Jewels Dog Treats or K9’s Natural Freeze Dried Beef Reward Dog Treats.
You can read more about dog treats and picking the right dog treats for your pup here.
Training With Treats
Tasty treats are the best way to encourage your dog to learn new tricks. They’re a great motivator and can help your dog achieve their training goals. But the right way of giving your dog treats can actually maximise their learning.
For instance, understanding the distance at which you should give your dog treats is vital for teaching them certain tricks. If you hold treats too high above your dog’s mouth, they’ll probably break from the position you were teaching them for. Feed them too low below their mouth and they’ll think you’re trying to get them to lie down.
Similarly, if you feed too close to your dog, they may feel uncomfortable and back away. Too far and they’ll have to move toward you to reach their treats - in the long run, this might even teach your dog to be grabby with their treats!
Instead, a general distance of about half an inch to an inch away from your dog’s mouth is good. Hold the treat right at their nose level and make sure to keep your hands still when feeding them. Try to offer treats on your flat palm rather than in your fingertips as they’re less likely to nip at your fingers if your hand is flat. Of course, feel free to experiment with your dog as different pups react differently.
After a good session of training, put your pup into a good mood with a long-lasting chewy treat like The Barkery’s Dehydrated Probiotic Chicken Feet Dog Treats!
Teaching Your Dog to Take Treats Gently
If your dog is the type to get a little too fierce with their treats, you may want to throw treats on the ground when training them, at least until you’re able to teach them to eat from your hands gently. You could also opt for treats you can feed more easily from a distance - sticky treats like peanut butter can be fed using a spoon at a distance.
If your dog is the type to get too snippy when taking treats from your hand, you might want to spend some time teaching them the right way to eat from your hands. One way to do that is to place a treat in your hand and close your fist around it. Offer your hand to the dog - they may start biting at your hand, but try and keep your fist closed. If you need to, get yourself a sturdy pair of gloves.
Once your dog stops biting, or if they’re using gentle and painless nibbles, you can open your hand and give them the treat. Pairing this training with a voice command like “Gentle” could help your pup gain more control over their behaviour. If she ever grabs her treats in a rough way, using the voice command “Gentle” will help remind her to keep her teeth to herself.
Dog treats are a powerful tool when used correctly, but can also form many bad habits if misused. Nevertheless, take your time to experiment and try different ways of offering treats to your dog. Not only will you get a better understanding of your dog, your dog will also learn more about what you like and dislike as a dog owner!
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.