There has always been some controversy about whether to give treats (e.g. dog biscuits or MilkBones) when training a dog. There are advantages and disadvantages to giving a dog treats when training him. This article will hopefully eliminate any confusion you may have.
Now some people say: “Of course! Give the dog treats to make him obey you. After all, you won’t attract his attention if you don’t give him anything he enjoys.” On the other hand, some other people will say, “No, don’t give the dog any treats! He will only obey you for the food.”
There is truth in both of the above opinions. The dog needs an incentive to obey you, doesn’t it? But also, what if your dog starts to work only for the food? What then? If he is not hungry and does not really want the food, then he has no reason to obey you!
So you should use dog treats? The answer is YES, but in moderation. Don’t give the dog a cookie every time he obeys you, but sometimes praise him excessively instead. In addition, you should not make the “price” too big, otherwise, you will overfeed it. For example, break a cookie into two halves or even cut it into three pieces so you don’t feed your dog too much when you train him.
Here is another idea for training young puppies. Don’t feed them cookies at all – just use pellets for adult dog food. The pellets are large enough to be a treat for the young puppy’s tiny mouth but small enough not to overfeed the puppy.
Another very important point I want to stress is that you should not train your dog to obey you just for the food as a reward. Although you may not be aware of this, it is easy to slip into the habit of rewarding your dog with a reward every time he does something remotely good.
Instead, you want your dog to see you as the “strong master” or the “alpha” above him so that he obeys you because you are the master and because he wants to please you, not just because you have a joy. You can do this by praising him much in a high voice when he does something good, and in a deep voice, “you are in trouble” when he does something bad. You want him to distinguish between the voices and find out that a high voice means “good” and a low voice means “bad”, and if you do the low voice, you are not satisfied with him.