“He’ll get fat!”

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
  • Cheese
  • 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! πŸ™‚

So, here’s my list on how to avoid feeding your dog too many treats:

  1. Use your dog’s daily kibble –Β 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.
  2. Use treats that can be easily snapped.Β 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! πŸ˜‰ 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.
  3. 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!

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These wheat-free treats are great as they can be snapped into much smaller pieces

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Treats roughly the same size as your little finger nail will work perfectly πŸ™‚

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Love Zoey in the background of those photos!! πŸ˜€

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4 thoughts on ““He’ll get fat!”

  1. Excellent advice. I am using cooked chicken and hot dogs cut up into very tiny bits. Sometimes cheese. I try to rotate these to keep my new boy excited about what I have in my pocket. It is working wonders with him and he beats feet back to me when I call. He is around a completly untrained dog from next door and I fear he will learn bad habits from her… But they love to play.

    Yes, Love Zoey in the background.

    • It sounds like you are doing great work with Stitch and he seems like a real superstar!

      And yes, Zoey is never far when there are treats about!! πŸ˜‰

  2. Good tips, have to say though Donna turns her nose up on kibble if I have little chicken cubes around and I’m too lazy to pack different treats to go for a walk so kibble for the low distraction home environment and cooked chicken/pork cubes for outdoors! The tiny pieces help weight management but it does mean we have to spend more time on food prep!

    • totally agree about the kibble, it’s very easy to snub πŸ™‚

      We need to get better at remembering to buy meat in, we’re both veggie/vegan so the pups often have to make do with cheese as a high value reward, but meat works much better for them πŸ™‚

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