When we asked our social audience whether they bring treats with them when walking their dog over 94% said yes (based on a 16,300 person poll). Can you believe that? 94%!
So, we decided to dig into why it’s so important to keep treats on hand for your dog. The number one reason - treats are an effective way to train your dog.
This article covers the importance of dog training, why positive reinforcement is the expert trainer’s preferred choice; popular dog training treats; and the best training treat pouch to use when training your dog.
Let’s get crackin’!
The Many Benefits of Dog Training - A Constructive (Rather than Destructive) Outlet for Energy.
Dog training offers SO many benefits for both dogs and for you, as the owner.
Firstly, training will allow your dog to understand and respond to human commands effectively - not just from you. It actually establishes a common language between your pooch and yourself which leads to better communication and understanding. This will foster a stronger bond between you and your dog as they learn to trust and rely on your guidance, learning that they are safe with you and will always be safe when listening to your instructions.
Training will also instil essential obedience commands such as: sit; stay; come; and leave it. Your dog wasn’t born knowing what ‘sit’ means. These commands are imperative to ensure your dog's safety and enable you to effectively control your dog. Especially in potentially dangerous situations, such as near traffic, when encountering other animals or around young children. These situations can be volatile for dogs, so it’s important that they know they can count on you through proper training and bonding.
Training provides opportunities for dogs to socialise with other dogs and people in a controlled environment. This helps them become more comfortable and well-behaved around strangers, reducing the chances of fear or aggression and also their stress levels. It has been proven that training will help your dog’s self-control and coping mechanisms, which will reduce anxiety and stress-related behaviours. Training teaches dogs how to ‘cope’ amongst society, how to act, and who to turn to in uncertain situations.
Training exercises your dog's mind and prevents boredom. Dogs are intelligent animals that thrive on mental challenges. Training sessions are like our version of chess or reading. It is a nourishing experience for a dog to be able to use their mind and keeps them engaged whilst providing a constructive (rather than destructive) outlet for their energy. Did you know that 10 minutes of training is just as strenuous for a dog as a 30 minute walk? Training will help your dog lead a healthier and happier life.
Consistent and positive reinforcement-based training methods are most effective and humane. It is recommended to seek professional guidance or attend obedience classes to ensure proper training techniques and achieve the best results.
That leads us to the next question...
What is Positive Reinforcement Dog Training, and Why is it More Effective than Negative Reinforcement Training?
Experts highly recommend positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement training.
This method focuses on rewarding desired behaviours, rather than punishing or correcting unwanted behaviours. It involves using positive stimuli, such as treats, praise or play, to reinforce behaviours that you want your dog to repeat. The underlying principle is to create a positive association between the desired behaviour and the reward, encouraging the dog to repeat that behaviour in the future.
Here’s an example of positive vs negative reinforcement dog training:
Your dog’s barking out the window as someone walks past. You want them to stop this behaviour. Negative reinforcement would be yelling at your dog to be quiet. This won’t work in the long run for a couple of reasons: 1. your yelling will insight stress in them, which they associate with the person; 2. The yelling might just cause them to stop briefly from confusion - which isn’t really teaching them a lesson; 3. it fosters a negative relationship between you and your dog.
Conversely, wait until your dog stops barking and immediately reward her with a treat. Continue this every time your dog STOPS barking. The treat is taught over time to be associated with no barking. This is positive reinforcement.
Some Key Aspects of Positive Reinforcement Dog Training:
Rewards: Positive reinforcement relies on rewards to motivate and reinforce desired behaviours.
Timing: Timing is crucial in positive reinforcement training. The reward should be given immediately after the desired behaviour occurs, so your dog can clearly associate the reward with the specific behaviour.
Consistency: Consistency is essential in positive reinforcement training. Rewards should be given consistently when your dog exhibits the desired behaviour. It speeds up the process as you make it easy for them to form the connection between the praise and desired action.
Shaping: Positive reinforcement training often involves shaping behaviour in small steps. You start by rewarding any approximation of the desired behaviour and gradually refine it until you achieve the exact behaviour you're looking for. This method allows you to break down complex behaviours into manageable steps, making it easier for your dog to understand and learn.
No Punishment: Positive reinforcement training avoids the use of punishment or aversive techniques. Instead of focusing on correcting or punishing unwanted behaviours, it emphasises redirecting and reinforcing desired behaviours. This approach creates a more positive and enjoyable training experience for both the dog and the owner.
Bonding and Trust: Positive reinforcement training strengthens the bond and trust between you and your dog. By using rewards and positive interactions, you build a positive association with the training process and create a cooperative and trusting relationship with your dog.
Problem-solving: Positive reinforcement training encourages dogs to think and problem-solve. They learn to offer behaviours and make choices to earn rewards, which enhances their cognitive abilities and improves their problem-solving skills.
Remember, while positive reinforcement training is highly effective, it requires patience, consistency, and proper understanding of your dog's individual needs and motivations. Seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer can be beneficial in implementing positive reinforcement techniques correctly and achieving the best results.
What are the Best Training Dog Treats?
An issue with positive reinforcement with treats, if there is any, is that you can go over the top and end up feeding your dog too many fats / carbs - AKA the things they LOVE. We want this to be a healthy exercise for your dog, so we've got some alternatives for you.
Here are some super healthy snacks that vets and trainers have recommended you can pop in your ST ARGO treat pouch for your dog, to avoid feeding them too many Schmacko's or biscuits which can lead to an unhealthy level of fats, salts and carbohydrates...
Raw carrots make a crunchy and low-calorie snack for dogs. They are high in fiber and provide vitamins A and K. Plus, chewing on carrots can help promote dental health.
Apples are a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. Make sure to remove the seeds and core before feeding them to your dog, as those parts can be a choking hazard.
These little berries are packed with antioxidants and can be served fresh or frozen. They make a tasty and healthy treat that dogs often enjoy.
3. Greek Yoghurt
Plain, unsweetened yogurt can be a good source of probiotics and calcium for dogs. It's important to avoid flavoured yogurts or those containing artificial sweeteners, as those can be harmful to dogs.
4. Peanuts (unsalted, raw)
Peanuts provide our pets with essential nutrients, such as vitamin B6, vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, niacin, and much more. Feed in smaller doses, they're high in (healthy) fats.
What is the Best Treat Pouch for Training my Dog?
When it comes to choosing a dog treat pouch, there are several factors to consider, including size, functionality, durability, and convenience.
The ST ARGO treat pouch is compact, lightweight and has an ergonomically designed closure to keep the treat secure, whilst still having an open design to reduce odour.It also features a clip and belt loop for easy attachment to your clothing, belt, bag or keychain.
The squishy sides means you can easily press the sides in and it opens for easy access to treats.
The pouch is water-resistant and has a unique design meaning it can be easily washed due to its silicone composition! No more stinky dog pouches!
Remember to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a treat pouch. Look for a pouch that is comfortable to wear, easy to clean, and suits your training style. Additionally, reading customer reviews and considering the features that matter most to you can help you make an informed decision.
Loved this article? Why not read our article about dog training here.