Treats for Pet Training Using Positive Reinforcement
It’s easy to get frustrated while training your pet. It takes a good eye and quick reaction to get the timing just right when rewarding your pet for good behavior. Sometimes, people even get so aggravated with the process that they instead resort to yelling at their pets or physically punishing them for bad behavior. While this might achieve the desired result, any pet parent that turns to this method is sure to soil the bond their pet; and likely cause them to develop anxiety in preparation for what they interpret to be dangerous or threatening. Positive reinforcement can not only achieve training results but also nourish the relationship between you and your pet, especially with the help of treats.
What is positive reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement is the idea that if you reward a subject (pet) with something they enjoy (food) immediately after they perform a specific behavior, the likelihood of the subject to repeat the behavior in the future is increased. There is a direct correspondence between the reward and the recipient’s behavior. When associated with pets, positive reinforcement typically refers to using treats to reward pets for desirable or appropriate behavior, increasing the chances that they will act this way more often.
Why should I use treats for positive reinforcement?
- Treats are handy for training.
Because they are so small and convenient, treats make terrific training tools. You can easily put a few in your pocket while doing some training around the house or put a bunch in an air-tight container or Ziplock bag for freshness while going on outings. Since timing is so crucial when rewarding your pet during a training session, having treats that are easily accessible can make all the difference.
- Treats are comprehensible to your pet.
Not to say that play or praise can’t be used, but treats are best for training. This is because playing with your dog isn’t as easy to associate with a behavior as a treat is. Praise is also not the greatest translation. While these methods can be effective, they are best for overweight pets or older dogs who have done the training before. Teaching your pet something new is like trying to convey a message to them. You want to speak the clearest, most concise language possible. Praise and play are a long story, but treats are like a short synopsis.
- Treats are an effective reward.
Food is tasty! Most pets love food and will take practically anything you present to them at any time. For humans, a tasty ice cream cone isn’t quite as compensating as a fat paycheck. But for our pets, food is the paycheck, so a delectable new snack can speed up the learning curve.
A few things to keep in mind…
- Don’t let your pet fill up on treats.
You don’t want them to eat their meal in treats. Not only may this cause weight issues down the line, but your pet might lose interest in treats that become frequent snacks. A treat that loses the ‘treat’ factor is no treat at all.
- There are treats out there for all pets.
If you have a picky eater on your hands, don’t lose hope! There are so many options on the market these days that you are bound to find something. Experiment with different flavors and keep note of what your pet enjoys vs. has no interest in. When all else fails, go back to the basics like pet-safe fruits and vegetables, boiled chicken or deli meats. You can also try storing a new type of treat in your pantry (or other unique out-of-their-reach spot) to make your pet feel extra special and like they are getting something they normally wouldn’t.
I know that training a pet can be difficult, but don’t give up on the chance to strengthen your bond with them. Treats provide a quick reward resource, are easily interpreted by pets as compensation and are confirmed to be an effective reward. If challenges arise or you seem to plateau in your pet’s training, switch things up! Consider trying a different brand or flavor.
The key takeaway here would be:
If you want your pet to learn something new, try giving them something new in return.
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect training treat, you’re in luck! Nurture Your Pet is launching our very own brand of pet treats, as seen above with my pup Leroy. He is a huge fan of them so I can’t wait for all of you to get your pet’s paws on these! Be sure to leave us your feedback in a review or tag us in some photos using @nurtureyourpet.
Special thanks to these sources: