Do you always have to work with treats? Today we will look into these questions in more detail. Hopefully, you can best answer this yourself.
Your new dog is moving in and the anticipation is great. You buy the puppy equipment together, make the newcomer comfortable and set up his new, hopefully, lifelong home, and deal with basic questions such as housebreaking, look for a veterinarian who suits you and and and…
When reading specialist literature and various guides, you often noticed that a reward is required as soon as there is a small demonstrable learning effect. There are also dogs whose weight may not be ideal or who suffer from metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and therefore simply cannot afford a treat as often. Or maybe you are one of those dog owners who have something against rewarding them with a treat and are looking for alternatives in this regard.
Why Always This Reward?
The dog has a very good short-term memory. He mentally links good and bad things, just like we humans do. That means: If I did something well, I get a reward. At least at the beginning of an exercise.
Later, the treat is mostly left out and replaced with pure praise, which I get as a bonus on top of that even while I’m getting the treat. If my human is happy, I have done everything right and I am happy as a result.
If I did something wrong, I will not be punished! At least not by complaining and moaning. If you do that, my dear human being, I will also perceive this spectacle as a kind of praise. Why? Well, you’re giving me your fullest attention, then I can only have done something good.
But wait a minute, right now you’re not doing anything. I’m being ignored! As a dog, what do I conclude from this? Something obviously wasn’t right. But I always want to please my human, so I try again and see if I get any praise this time.
Are There Also Diet Treats?
Of course. If in doubt, I would even recommend baking the treats yourself. Then you as the owner know what’s in it and what your four-legged friend gets to eat. If you’re a little confused at first, talk to your vet about it. Because you can also create your own recipes, individually adapted to the needs of your fur child. Not every dog suffers from obesity just because it is supposed to eat “diet food”.
Alternative Rewards without the Use of Food
However, if you want to completely get away from the treat, for whatever reason, then that is also possible. Replace the treat as a reward with your favorite toy, for example, pat your darling’s head, you can even tear your arms apart, praise him loudly and you are obviously happy about your four-legged friend. The voice in particular should sound exuberant, joyful, and bright.
By the way: If you have to use “No!” because your dog is not doing what you want, then please leave his name out afterward. Otherwise, he automatically associates the no with himself and confuses him or her in his or her learning process. Equating your own name with punishment could backfire at some point.