Is treat training good or bad? Do you ever find yourself handing out treats to your dog without a valid reason? ‘No,’ you might say. Then why did you give your dog that third cookie today? I am often asked…is treat training bad? I guess the answer depends on why you are giving your dog a treat. Is it because you are rushing out for the evening and your dog might feel neglected? Have you been really busy at work so you want to pass out an extra chew bone? Have you missed a walk or two and your dog is frustrated and bored?
Our lives are very busy. It often seems it can be easier to bribe our dogs, trying to entertain them with treats, to ease our minds. But what are we really telling our dogs? If we think about it, the truth may become clear; ‘Oh, I don’t have time for you right now. Just eat these cookies and I won’t have to feel bad. Really. It will be ok. We will walk tomorrow first thing in the morning…’
Do you then really walk the dog first thing in the morning? Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t.
I tell my clients: ‘Train for what you want and not for what you don’t want.’ This means we need to teach our dogs to behave the way we wish they would. So, the next time you find yourself handing out an extra biscuit, ask yourself why you are really giving that treat.
You see, our dogs are constantly aware of actions and reactions. If our dog barks at us and we pet them then they learn barking at us equals petting. We must constantly and consciously be aware of what we contribute to the relationship we have with our dogs. Consistently feeding your dog treats to ease our minds will yield unhealthy relationships. Period. This is very common with dog ownership today. As our relationships with our dogs have moved from working companionships to more sedentary lifestyles, our dogs’ roles have changed in our lives. The thing is, most dogs were designed to work. So there you have it; a problem.
So the question remains, is treat training good or bad? What does the above have to do with using treats to train my dog? Everything. Having a dog is about a relationship. It really does not matter if that dog is a house pet or a working K-9. If you are using treats to fill a need in that relationship then it is unhealthy. If we use treats to lure a dog into a behavior or ease our conscience without achieving trust and respect first then we are setting our relationship up for failure or mediocrity at best. Achieving trust and respect needs to come from understanding, accepting, and providing for a dog’s needs.
My suggestion is that instead of asking is treat training bad ask yourself if your dog management/ dog ownership is really helping to create the relationship you want with your dog? Even the best intended dog owners (myself included) can benefit from asking this question. Why? Because it will yield the truth and eliminate the need for guilt cookies.
Need help weaning yourself off guilt cookies? We are here to help. All you have to do is dial our number.
Kindred Spirits serves greater Nashville dog training clients by offering custom training programs catered specifically to fit each dog owner's lifestyle.
Led by dog training expert Jennie Jones, Kindred Spirits creates customized dog training programs for our clients and their dogs.
Our customized programs focus on energy education, real world exposure, customized commands, obedience training, and more.