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When and How to Use Dog Treats

We love giving dog treats to our furry pals especially during training and as dog owners because we’re sure that our dogs love those treats as a reward. There are instances where we are probably using dog treats the wrong way though. Learn when and how to use dog treats by reading this article.

A dog about to be given a snack

Dog treats are not only used to show our love for our buddies or as occasional snacks. Giving dog treats is actually the most common way of positive reinforcement for modifying behavior especially during dog training; it could be a good reward for them when they display good attitude on their part. 

Before feeding them dog treats, it is our prime responsibility as pet owners to do extensive research. There are plenty of dog treats in the market with different brands and flavors, but just because they’re marked “safe for dogs” doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t proceed with caution. Watch out for dog treats that have ingredients that are “fillers” such as corn, soy, wheat and other ingredients that most dogs have a problem digesting. Moreover, be careful with dog treats that have artificial flavors, salt and sugar as it can cause negative reactions in their body. The more natural the ingredients are, the better.

Dog treats are not only exclusive to the ones that you can buy in pet stores, you can actually make your own at home or you can use dog-friendly veggies such as carrots, green beans and bananas. Make sure that these dog-friendly pieces are cut into chunks or bite-size pieces to avoid choking.

A dog treat for this dog

When to Use Dog Treats:

  1. Dog training:
    Dog treats can be used as a reward when you’re teaching them the how to’s of proper dog behavior and how to obey. Using treats during training is very effective during the early phase of a pup’s learning process. In order for training to be effective, make sure to not spoil your puppy with treats because it can distract them from making the connection between an action and a reward. The best treats for training are the ones that are small and dry so that it’s easier for them to chew and reduces the time spent eating.

    EXTRA TIP: Treats should be used whenever they’re in a calm, submissive state. Do not use it when they’re in an excited, over-stimulated state of mind. When using treats during training, use the treats when they follow your command but don’t do this too much, as it is best to use it every once in three commands or more. Thus, you can also use treats to re-engage them whenever they lose interest in the training. Give them a delectable treat in the end as a final treat for being a good pup.

  2. In between meals:
    It is ideal to give dog treats in between meals and as an occasional snack. Always remember that dog treats shouldn’t be used as a substitute for a full, healthy  meal. We don’t recommend giving them before meals since treats can ruin their appetite for the meal and giving them immediately after a meal isn’t ideal either because extra food means extra calories, so the risk of obesity is higher if they overeat.

    EXTRA TIP: Moderation is key. Don’t overfeed them with treats.

  3. As a “comfort” treat:
    If you go out a lot, giving them comfort treats (a.k.a. Calming chews) can help in reducing the separation anxiety as well as boredom. Giving them treats like these can give them something to chew and concentrate on for a few hours without them gnawing on shoes and other inedible household items.

    EXTRA TIP: These comfort treats can be found in specialty dog treats shops or pet stores, make sure to choose treats that are free of choking hazards, appropriate to your dog’s size and chewing strength. You may ask your vet for help if you need assistance in figuring them out.


How to Use Dog Treats Properly:

Dogs being trained with treats

Typically, dogs get too excited when you hand them treats and sometimes it could be dangerous as some dogs can potentially nip the treats from your hands. For your safety, make sure to hand them the dog treats properly, and this can also be helpful in making the treat-giving dog training more effective.

 

  1. Dog treats shouldn’t be brought up higher than your chest level. Bring them close to their mouth, but not too close. That way, your dog can easily take it without jumping or snapping. 

  2. Deliver the dog treats in a flat open palm or keep the treat inside a closed fist, lower it down to them, carefully open your fist and let them take the treat from you. This will help them stay calm.

  3. DON’T give them treats when they reinforce a bad behavior, use the treats wisely and it should be used as a training tool in order for them to obey you and be disciplined.

  4. Use the treats to command them to behave, especially to be calm and submissive.

How Much Dog Treats Can I Feed my Dog?

Hungry dog looking at treats

Accordingly, dog owners like you and me should follow the 10% dog treats rule:

Dog treats shouldn’t be more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Daily calorie intake of dogs usually depends on their size and age, but most vets recommend about 400 calories per day to avoid the risk of obesity. This means, your dog’s treat intake shouldn’t exceed more than 40 calories per day.

Moderation and Discipline is Key

Just because we love our dog/s doesn’t mean we should spoil them too much. Treats are used to show our affection, as a training tool or simply because we want to give them a special treat. Always remember the proper how’s and when’s of dog treats to make dog training more effective and to help avoid the chance of obesity on your pup’s part.