According to Cesar Millan, because food is such a powerful motivator for dogs, it is very helpful in dog training. When you are training your dog, you are asking him or her to complete a potentially complicated task-to understand a particular cue and then perform the task you have asked of them. Although it may seem simple to you, dogs don’t naturally communicate this way. However, when you use a primal motivator such as food, you can make the task of learning a lot easier for them. Here are a few tips from the experts on how to approach dog training with treats.

Smaller is Better

When you are dog training, it is easy to overdo it with treats. To make sure you don’t feed your dog too many calories, use small treats or pieces of treats.

Reward Calmness and Submissiveness

Avoid unintentionally rewarding hyperactive behavior. Remember that when you give a treat to your dog, you are reinforcing whatever the preceding behavior is. When your dog is submissive and calm you can give him or her a treat.

Don’t Bribe Your Dog

Here is what you don’t want to happen. Your dog has learned how to do a command, but he will only do it because he knows there is a treat coming. Treats are great to get your dog’s attention in the first place, but your goal should be to rely on treats less and less. Instead of always giving treats, give your attention or affection instead.

Reward Each Step Along the Way

For example, maybe you are trying to teach your dog to sit. He starts by lowering his butt a little. Give him the treat right after he does, until waiting for him to sit down completely. The next time he does it, treat him again. Then, wait until he gets his behind closer to the ground before rewarding him. Finally he should sit completely for it.

Eliminate Distractions

Are you having a hard time getting your dog to pay attention during dog training? This might be happening because there is something more interesting going on in their environment. Cars driving by, squirrels running near or children playing nearby may all be causing your dog to be distracted.

Treat Testing

Another potential problem when training with treats is that your dog may be picky about the treats he or she finds to be the most delicious. For example, store-bought dog treats may be enough to motivate some dogs, but others need something tastier, like bits-sized pieces of hot dogs. Try testing out different dog treats until you have found the one that really gets your dog’s attention.

Click Away

Consider combining your treat rewards with clicker training. When you give your dog the treat, mark it with a click. They will associate this sound with the reward. Eventually, the click can replace the treat itself. Some dogs are more driven by food treats than others. If food doesn’t seem to be capturing your dog’s attention, try toys and affection instead.

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