There has always been some degree of discussion around the idea of giving a dog treats during training. Some believe it’s a bad thing to do because the dog will only be obeying for food, while some believe it’s good because it gives a dog incentive to learn.
But what’s the truth? Well, the answer isn’t black or white. Basically, both of these opinions have real and valid points, and the best option is actually to use treats moderately as a form of balance between the two extremes.
If you never use treats to begin with and only use praise, training may take longer – or may not work at all – because there’s no obvious, clear-cut indication to a dog of what they’re supposed to do and why they should do it.
But if you always use treats for every single small good thing a dog does, they will learn to only follow you for those treats, and show disinterest in obeying when they aren’t hungry.
Many forms of training involve starting with small treats and using them as rewards alongside a lot of praise at first. Then, slowly reduce the frequency of treats, focusing on enthusiastic praise. This trains a dog with an incentive, then teaches them not to rely on the reward.
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