A common thought with positive, reward-based training is that, as the dog is rewarded often, s/he will quickly become obese!
We are currently walking and training a 15 week old Labrador puppy, Marley. The owners are doing excellent in regards to training him, feeding him from puzzle feeders, and keeping him mentally stimulated. They’re working on bite inhibition, general obedience training, making ‘sit’ a default behaviour (instead of jumping up and tugging on sleeves!) and walking politely on his lead.
I recommended using tasty, high value treats for learning new tricks and rewarding behaviours that Marley finds difficult. High value treats include:
- Cooked liver
- Cooked chicken
- Hotdog sausages
- Moist, stinky treats!
Obviously, as we want him to be learning lots of positive things, Marley is fed quite a lot of treats. His owners quite reasonably commented that “He’ll get fat at this rate!” and, as they were feeding him full-size, 1 1/4 inch long bone biscuits for every reward, it was quite a reasonable assumption! 🙂
So, here’s my list on how to avoid feeding your dog too many treats:
- Use your dog’s daily kibble – if you are rewarding your dog A LOT throughout the day, reward your dog with kibble for easy or well-known behaviours. We keep a pot of kibble in every room of our house and often use them to reward Kasper and Zoey for easy behaviours such as sit, lie down and for polite behaviour whilst playing.
- Use treats that can be easily snapped. The great thing about using cooked meat or cheese as training treats is that you can cut them into tiny, tiny pieces…and they smell so good the dog will still be willing to work very hard for it! 😉 However, even if you use shop-bought treats, buy ones that can be cut or snapped into smaller sizes or, as an alternative, buy specially designed ‘training treats’ which tend to be smaller in size.
- Keep the treats tiny! My advice to people when training any dog is to use treats roughly the same size as your little finger nail…or SMALLER!
Love Zoey in the background of those photos!! 😀