Treat Training

Agility is a game- and most games have motivators!  Toys and treats and praise all work very well for most dogs, but what kind of treats are best?

Treats should be small or breakable, soft, smelly, and made out of quality ingredients. A crunchy, grainy treat will leave crumbs on the course and distract your dog and the dogs behind them as well! A treat should be a taste, not a meal. One lick or bite and it’s gone!You can use bigger, crunchier treats as ‘jackpots’ at home, though! I use a medium-large biscuit at the bottom of contacts to reinforce my dogs’ nose touch.

I also work very hard to keep my dogs’ treats ‘mixed up’ so he doesn’t get bored, although I can’t see Quick EVER getting bored with his yummy liver treats! (evil dog broke into the stash of them and ate them all- who knew large amounts of liver caused huge amounts of flatulence in dogs?) Put a mix in your treat bag so your dog won’t know if he’s getting a bit of dried fruit, or a bit of liver, or some potato chip. (don’t judge me! Nova’ll do anything for potato chips.)  Pretend you’re a slot machine- your dog does what he wants, and maybe he wins the treat, maybe he doesn’t.  It keeps them interested longer! (When training a new behavior, it’s best to treat every time.)

What’s your dogs’ favorite treat that works well for agility? I keep hearing hot dogs are the best, but I can’t stand the smell myself so the dogs don’t get them.

7 Comments on “Treat Training

  1. When I tried the plastic bag in the pocket it make it too difficult to get the treat out in a timely manner.

    So I just live with the crumbs (which I’m sure the bird enjoy when I clean out my pockets in the front yard where the dogs aren’t).

  2. Terry- those do sound good- and I also have the pocket problem, LOL! Have you tried putting a bag in your pocket, then the treats in the bag in the pocket? That has worked very well for me in the past!

    Robbin- Doesn’t the cheese get too gross for enduring? I walk a fine line with my dogs between their enjoying a treat and me being able to stand it. cheese has always been a ‘if you’re in the kitchen, you might get some, otherwise, never’ treat for us. Do you have a trick to keeping it from getting all nasty?

  3. I boil liver, cut into appropriate sizes for each training session, bag in zip-lock sandwich size bags and freeze. This is my dogs “special treat” reward for training and really sparks their enthusiasm! Zip-lock bags can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator or if needed faster defrosted in microwave for a few seconds. The meat tears apart easily for appropriate sized treating.

  4. I boil pork and cut it in to small pieces (it doesn’t shred like poultry). I mix it with string cheese, cut in quarters lengthwise and then sliced. If I have any kibble or samples, I may mix some of that in as the lower value component.

  5. I like Cloud Star Soft & Chewiy Buddy Biscuits – you can give the whole one, or just a piece.

    You do get some crumbs in your pocket, and our Scotty pulled my levis out of the dirty clothes and ate the pocket. Had to by new pants, and now I clean out my pocket before putting the pants in the dirty clothes. – the company was started by a couple to feed their very allergic dog. Their motto is Wag More, Bark Less.

    And I have no connection, just like the product.

  6. Super Dog enriched with Elk Antler. They are semi-soft and very tiny, tasty and smelly. They have no chemical preservatives and they are balanced. What more could a dog ask for. And, no, I don’t sell them.