One thing I want to talk more about is, not just rewarding your dog, but about the differences in treats, you can use. It’s not a one size fits all kind of thing. With my personal dogs, I work them for their food and I use that as a treat. That doesn’t mean I don’t use treats, I really like using treats now and again because it’s a nice way to be able to spoil my dogs for all of their wonderful behaviors. You’ve noticed the title of this article is “Crunchy, Soft, Big and Small Differences,” and I just want to share a little information about each of those.
Crunchy treats can be a really good treat. However, I don’t use them all that much. Where I tend to use crunchy treats is if I have my dog on a place stay and they needed to stay for a longer period of time. The reason for that is, whenever you go to hand a dog a crunchy treat, they tend to fall apart and some of the pieces fall to the ground. If you’re trying to do heeling or some other kind of game like recall, for instance, those little pieces tend to get in the way. When you’re doing stay work though, since it crumbles there where the dog should stay, it’s helpful.
Soft treats are mainly what I use. I really like soft treats because they are very easy to consume. For instance, today we had a pretty small treat we were working with, which is good, but it was also a hard treat. We were trying to do the “coming when called” game with it. Unfortunately, because the treat wasn’t soft enough, the dog would spit it out. When that happens, the dog wasn’t getting the reinforcement that the exercise called for. Soft treats work well for a large range of exercises because it’s so easy for the dog to quickly consume. If you’re looking to keep a young dog in some kind of stay, the soft treats may be too quickly consumed so you will have to slow down the speed to keep your dog engaged.
Big treats are going to be useful when maybe the dog has done a great job and got 10-20 repetitions correct, then I can come in with the big treat to be the jackpot that ends it. Let me give you an example of what I’m currently doing with my dog Gabby. I’ll do a little bit of heeling work and little tricks for food and I give Gabby a piece or two here and there. Then, once I’ve given her a third or half of the bowl, I’ll send her to one of her places and give her the remaining bowl of food which she quickly devours. So, you can use the big treats to be the finishing touches on your training sessions. For you new guys, if you’re training with your puppy, why not use that remaining portion of the food in the bowl to lead them to their crate and have them settle there, then give them the bowl of food for a job well done.
Small and soft treats are the main thing I’m using because it’s very easy to transact. I like small treats, but be careful because you can make them too small. You never want it to be too tiny to where it’s inconsequential. It does need to be small, but also meaningful enough for your dog.
Send me a text if you have any questions about this or anything else (832) 734-5189