Let’s face it, all dogs love treats… and we love giving our dogs treats! But is there a wrong way and the right way to do it? Well, yes there is. But before we discuss that little conundrum let’s first think of all the right reasons to give your best friend a best treat.

When you should -

First of all, treats can act as the perfect reward for your dog learning new ways to behave and the rules of the house. There is never a better way to show your dog you love him than to keep the good food supply coming.

Try and introduce treats only when you have a spare hour for some obedience training or a garden session.  Make sure all the available treats get earned before stopping the session otherwise he may feel he did something wrong if playtime is suddenly cut short. Treats tell him he has just learned a new way of being the family dog and his brain and stomach information highway could not be more overflowing with achievement. Keeping the treats healthy and nutritious will benefit the training and not rewire his brain.

 

When you shouldn’t -

The problem is when owners start using treats as a bribe rather than a reward. This means getting your dog to do what you want at that precise moment in time rather than him learning a behavioural skill that he now needs to keep to every time. It sends out mixed signals which will always end in tears. If you are not careful your dog will see this as a chance to be greedy and will not do anything unless a treat is offered.

There are many bad and unhealthy dog snacks on the market and avoid rawhide bones at all costs. Significant calories can come from too many treats so avoid interfering with regular feeding schedules. Never use human food unless absolutely sure it contains no harmful contents for dogs such as grapes, chocolate, onions and chicken bones just to name a few. Beef bones are much safer but avoid these around children and always make your dog earn his treat outside or in a far corner of the kitchen.

Treats indoors or around the dining table are only asking for begging to be rewarded so try and keep a clear gap between human meal rituals and your dog’s feeding pattern. He should act like a dog and be fed and treated like a dog. Some say make them wait outside until you have finished eating as this sets a masterly tone, but you can probably find a balance that suits you both.

Giving him a treat for merely staying away from the dining table will only reprogram him to be more vigilant around family meal time. It is a treat for renewable actions don’t forget. If you are undertaking an extended training regime such as potty training and make convenient use of the yard then many treats may be needed so cut back a little on their regular food.