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Offer Treats to Reinforce Positive Behavior

Besides mealtime, sleeping for hours and belly rubs; treats are the one thing that dogs love. Treats are special, which means they are not your usual food and your dog very well knows that. The question here is for the pet owners – when should you offer treats to your dog? Is there a specific time, situation or can you just offer treats anytime you like, at random? Canine behaviorists and experts unanimously agree that treats should be offered only occasionally, or during specific situations. The most important thing here is that you can use treats to reinforce positive behavior in the dog.

Offer treats for the right behavior

Treats act as powerful tools to condition your pet to behave in a certain way. When used as rewards for positive behavior, or behavior you wish to see in your dog, healthy dog treats come in handy. The key to reinforcing positive behavior through treats is timing. In fact, timing is everything as that determines the kind of message you will be sending to your dog. Here are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Offer the treat as reward immediately after the dog exhibits a wanted behavior. The reward must be offered within seconds of the dog acting like you want it to, or it may fail to associate the reward with the behavior
  • The idea is to connect the behavior to the treat, so if necessary, use a ticker when you offer a treat to your pet.

Use single words

Your dog does not understand complex language. She or he can understand the sound, along with the tone. So avoid using lengthy sentences. Instead, use short easy to understand words like

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Wait
  • No
  • Walk
  • Heel
  • Run
  • Leave It
  • Look At Me

Make sure you use the same tone every time for each of these commands; only then, the dog will be able to associate a command with the behavior.

Encouraging calm demeanor

Dogs get excited when they see their treats. Jumping in excitement or snatching away the treat from you is not good behavior. Avoid offering dog treats when your dog is excited. Let them smell the treat in your hand, let them calm down and sit patiently before you offer them the treat. If the dog jumps at your hand or the treat, take it away. Give the treat soon after she or he calms down, so that they understand when they will get the treat and when they won’t.

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