by Dog Trainer & Behaviorist | Brian DeMartino
Dog training can be done in many different ways and stages but one of the most important parts in my opinion is treat training or positive reinforcement. Building your dogs engagement with you is a must if you want a dog that will learn what you are trying to teach or train. Without building that engagement you will have a hard time without that focus on you especially when around distractions in real world situations.
Building Engagement using Treats
Building engagement does not mean having your dog focus on the bag of treats or your hand that is holding the treat, it means to get eye contact from your dog and then say good and give the treat, then repeat. Take a treat and hold it away from you in your hand but keep your hand still and wait while you look at your dog. Even if for a split second your dog looks at you say “good” at that split second and treat your dog, then repeat it over and over and over again. You will see that as you repeat that your dog will start to give you that eye contact quicker and will increase the length of time they hold the eye contact with you.
What is a High Value Treat?
Building engagement and getting your dog to want to work with the highest level of motivation is done by choosing the right type of treat for your dog. Treats that I really like to use are freeze dried treats because they are super healthy and provide needed vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for your dog and do not contain any other ingredients besides the chicken, beef liver, fish, or beef. The beef liver is the healthiest organ meet for dogs and is a vitamin rich protein. The beef liver contains iron, copper, zinc and essential fatty acids, liver cleanses the blood of toxins and supports healthy vision. Any of the freeze dried treats are 100% natural, pure and easy to digest without any added preservatives.
Besides being so healthy the freeze dried treats are a treat that most dogs really really like and are what we call “high value”. When we want to teach our dogs things that we do not want so much excitement from them then we use lower value such as their kibble. Things like crate training where we do not our dog being so frustrated because they want one of the high value treats that is a time that we can use a lower value one. Every dog is an individual and we adjust what we use depending on whatever works best for him or her in each situation.
What is freeze dried?
Besides freeze dried treats freeze dried dog foods are becoming very popular as well because of the quality and health benefits of them. So what is freeze dried? Freeze-dying is a food preservation method that involves rapid freezing followed by vaporization of the formed ice under a vacuum and low pressure. The process gets rid of over 95% of the moisture, making it impossible for microbial activity to occur. Since the process happens in frozen states and manufacturers use raw or minimally processed ingredients, the resultant treats retain most of their nutrients, natural enzymes, taste, flavor, aroma, shape, and appearance. Most, if not all, freeze-dried dog treat manufacturers use humanely raised, grass-fed, cage-free, or wild-caught animals. Also, most have meats and organs predominantly with a few having fruits and vegetables and other healthy, wholesome ingredients. They are grain-free, gluten-free, and don’t have antibiotics, hormones, artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. They have a longer shelf-life and don’t need refrigeration.
Take the time and do some experimenting to see which type of treat your dogs is most motivated for and then practice that engagement building and you will see a dramatic improvement when training your puppy or adult dog! If you have any questions please ask in the comments section.