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Treat Training Your Dog

Tips for Using Treats When Housetraining Dogs

Dog owners are often of different minds when it comes to using treats (positive reinforcement) while housetraining dogs.  While there are reasons for or against, the best approach is probably one of moderation.  Positive reinforcement with treats can form an effective understanding between dog and human, though there can be practical drawbacks by relying too heavily on this tactic.  One is that the housetraining shouldn’t be entirely about getting treats.  Your dog wants to be housetrained (ultimately) since your dog doesn’t want to live in a soiled environment—so it’s best to allow that natural instinctual incentive to drive part of the process.  The other reason is completely practical.  Dog owners sometimes give too many treats to dogs during housetraining, which results in digestive issues for the dog.

If you do decide to use treats while housetraining, you can avoid some of these drawbacks by being smart about it.  For example, the time of day you train your dog matters.  If you teach your dog just before standard meals, the dog will simply see mealtime as the reward.  You can make the treat part of the meal, and then cut back a little bit on the other portion of doggie food to make up for the fattening contents of the treat.  This also saves you the trouble of having to take your dog to the bathroom twice (which while training can be a hassle).  Also try to refrain from giving your dog treats when you aren’t training him (obviously you can go back to doing so after you’re out of this phase) so that you don’t overload his system.

If you’re brand new to dog training, you may not even know what comprises a treat.  Most treats are either biscuits or chew treats.  Biscuits and chew treats both can exercise a dog’s jaws, which can be a benefit.  Biscuits are smaller than chew treats typically are, which makes them safer and easier for dogs to eat and digest.  Some dogs get overenthusiastic about chew treats and swallow them too quickly before breaking them down enough to be safely digestible.  So if you give your dog chew treats, tear them into smaller pieces first.  You can purchase treats manufactured by the same company which makes your dog’s usual meals, which may help you to maintain a nutritional balance.

You can also try making treats yourself.  Never, ever give a dog anything containing chocolate, since it is toxic to them.  There are many dog treat recipes on the web to get you started.  Some human foods are safe for your dog too.  Many dogs love raw vegetables but keep in mind some are not safe, so do some research.  You can also research dog treats offline in your local library.  You may find even more recipes this way as well as important nutritional guidance.  Try out several different treats to find out what your dog enjoys the most.  Dog treats can make a great housetraining tool, but only if you know how to use them safely and effectively.


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