Click here to learn more.
A. No. In most situations, once your dog understands a behavior, you will not need to carry treats on you 24 hours a day to get him to respond. While the rewards associated with a behavior should be continued in order for the behavior to remain consistent, the rewards themselves can be varied. In fact, it’s important not to create a reliance on treats when training a new behavior.
Animals form associations between actions and consequences; this influences the frequency of certain behaviors. For instance, a friendly puppy may sit calmly at his owner’s side when a visitor approaches. If the visitor reaches down and pets the puppy while he’s sitting, calm behavior has been rewarded and is likely to recur. On the other hand, if the visitor approaches and the puppy sits calmly at his owner’s side and is ignored, the puppy may get antsy when he doesn’t get attention. In frustration, the puppy may bark. When he barks, the visitor — or the owner — may reach down and pet the puppy. This teaches the puppy that sitting quietly doesn’t work to get attention, but barking does, and he may sit less and bark more in the future.
Since your dog is constantly learning, it’s important to reward desired behavior when it occurs. It’s also important to be aware of whether the behavior you desire in your dog is rewarding enough in itself. If you teach a sit using treats, the treats can be faded once your dog understands the behavior. Yet for the behavior to remain consistent, positive results must follow the sit frequently enough to make it worth the dog’s effort. For instance, if your dog gets excited when you come in the house and you ask him to sit, you should follow through with something the dog desires, such as petting or tossing a toy. You can also offer the occasional treat, but you shouldn’t feel like that is your only option.
I train dog owners not to bribe a
dog to do a behavior, like a
come when called, by showing the dog they have a treat in their hand. When dogs are trained like this, they learn to respond only when they see a treat. Instead, the dog should be trained to do the behavior first and then get a treat hidden in a treat jar or treat bag. The
dog should also regularly be rewarded with a nonfood option, like a game of
dog learns a behavior, he can be put on a variable reinforcement schedule to get him to respond reliably. I also use rewards other than treats; a dog can be rewarded for heeling by being released to walk on a loose leash, for example, rather than with a dog biscuit. Other reward options are petting, games, going outside, walks, doggy play and
In situations where your dog’s emotions are intense — such as when he is experiencing fear or excitement — the use of food rewards can be useful to help him calm down. Once he is calm, though, you can phase out the food reward and offer another alternative for good behavior.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
We asked our Facebook fans to share
their pets' selfies, and here are the best
ones from cats, dogs and a horse.
Emmy, an English Bulldog, is the resident
pup enjoyed by tenants at a new
apartment building in Washington, D.C.
Employees at a plumbing company used
a jackhammer and chisel to free Trouble
the kitten from a drainpipe.
New York City vet Dr. Ann Hohenhaus
warns of dangers like falls from tall
buildings and bacteria present in puddles.
Dr. Patty Khuly usually prefers texts to
phone calls. Here are her top tips for
messaging with your pet’s…
Alas, summer is almost over. To pay
tribute to the season, we found pups who
definitely enjoyed all it had to offer.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.