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Do you train with treats?

  • Yes

    Votes: 24 82.8%
  • No

    Votes: 5 17.2%
  • Other

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Discussion Starter #1
Do you train with treats? What treats? Are the treats part of the dog's meal? Do you use any particular treats (hotdogs, cheese, kibble, salmon etc).
Do you reward with love/ affection?
Do you do both? Do you use a clicker or marker words?

Please share... I am very curious as I was taught to reward with affection only. I have also been told that you should make your dog work for their meal? Not sure what that means....

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When my dog was a puppy I used treats to shape and lure while teaching basic obedience commands at home. Occassionally I brought treats along when out on walks, but only occasionally.

Now that she's older we've switched to using a toy or tug while out and about, and sometimes even at home.
But that's just primarily, I use praise and pets as well. And I've taught many many dogs without treats as well. But food is a great motivator!

I don't and never have used a clicker, but don't have anything against their use. I just didn't want to have to try and remember to always have it onhand.

For treats I use small pieces of hot dog, cheese, chicken or other leftover meats.
 

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I have an eight month old male.
We train with kibble for over half his meals and I use kibble if I need to get precise or calm work from him. I use cheese or hotdogs in high distraction areas, like busy streets or club/class. We use a tug chuckit and a bite tug for high drive (these toys are only used for work). I use affection always. 🥰
I don’t use a clicker but marker words.
 

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I don’t train with treats at all but I sometimes reward with treats if I want to reinforce a behavior the dog knows. I use repetition and praise, toys, and variety. So I work on something for a short time then switch it up and do something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have an eight month old male.
We train with kibble for over half his meals and I use kibble if I need to get precise or calm work from him. I use cheese or hotdogs in high distraction areas, like busy streets or club/class. We use a tug chuckit and a bite tug for high drive (these toys are only used for work). I use affection always. 🥰
I don’t use a clicker but marker words.
Can you please elaborate on how you train with his meals? My GS gets so focused on her toy that I don't know how to use it for a reward.... And my rescue hound loses all focus when it's dinner time. He will literally go through every command I have eve taught him. It's hilarious but annoying.
 

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Affection alone isn’t inherently rewarding for all dogs. Some enjoy physical contact, some don’t. I prefer to use what the dog finds most reinforcing, which may vary depending on the circumstances. Cava works extremely well for food until she’s in drive and then she doesn’t care about it at all. I use marker training - sometimes with a verbal marker, sometimes marking with a clicker.

I recently taught Cava about a dozen new tricks for her AKC trick titles, all of them with food. At flyball practice she works for a tug or a ball on a rope. I could try to hand her a piece of cheese at flyball, normally very high value, and she’d refuse to take it.

Regardless of whether I’m training a brand new behavior, reinforcing a known behavior, using food or play as a reward, and what kind of marker, I always use my voice and demeanor to praise and encourage.
 

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I very much agree with @Cassidy's Mom. Use what works. Dogs have different motivations in different situations and we have abilities to motivate our dogs.
Meals: I am with my dog all day and training for service. So I scoop out his meals in my hip pouch and hand feed when he does the behaviors that I need.
Toys: Working with toys does have a learning curve and I may not be qualified to give advice on this, I’ll try. Your GSD is enthusiastic, that’s great. So start with small expectations and the dog winning easily. Build confidence in the dog so that if they do what you want, awesome toy things will happen.
 

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I voted "Yes" but really the answer is all of the choices.
Yes.... I use food to teach new behaviours.
NO...I don't exclusively use food
OTHER.... I also use toys, play, balls, tug, and affection.

As was mentioned above every dog is different. My main goal in raising a pup is to teach the pup that I am the center of their universe and for them make a connection with me that leads them to be excited enough by my attention and affection that they are thrilled to work for it!

Ultimately, we are in search of a connection with our dogs. Just do what works.
 

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It depends what I'm training and the age of the dog. Pretty much for the first year, it's food. Food is quick and there is virtually no break between reward and starting again. I use their meals to train with because you need them to be hungry and if you feed them and then try to train them, their food drive will be down (unless you have pigs. I have pigs) but then they are overfed. There are dogs out there with little food drive. It's hard to train but it can be done.

Once the foundation is solid, I move to balls and tugs. I have specific toys for some exercises. the send out has its own reward. it's the only time they see that toy. Obedience is a ball. Secondary obedience is a tug.

Treats = I find a whole food that is soft. FreshPet is my go to for convenience.
Clicker = Yes, for foundation work or when I really want to drill something.
Reward = The reward should always be playing with me. The food or toy is an extension of me. I can, and have, rewarded with a snowball. I've pushed them and let them jump and push back on me. The reward is interaction with ME. Some dogs you have to work with more than others to build that relationship. My female has super high possession and is independent. it took work with two balls and teaching her she must bring the 1st ball back and drop it before the game restarted. If you can afford it, Ivan has videos on that. I learned from someone that teaches his method. And because of her high possession I usually hide the ball/tug so she isn't laser focused on it and her brain is engaged.
 

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Voted YES for treats.

Josie is 16 months and I've always used treats for training. Our trainer before said that I tend to 'over treat', yup very guilty of that.
Treats we use are mostly freeze dried raw, Stella and Chewy's Chicken Hearts are a favorite, Papa Psuka is another high value treat.
When we work on learning new behaviors I use the clicker and lots of treats, then switch to verbal markers and intermittent treat dispensing.
Right now, she can finish a rally novice course without any treats until we finish. I did not think that was possible since I am like a treat jackpot machine 🤩😉
I give verbal praise/touch every now and then but that seems to get Josie excited and eventually get distracted so I save that for when we are done with the exercise.
There are times I use a tug as a reward, e.g. when we work on some obedience while playing tug.
On walks and hikes I carry some treats as a reward.
 

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Do you train with treats? What treats? Are the treats part of the dog's meal? Do you use any particular treats (hotdogs, cheese, kibble, salmon etc).
Do you reward with love/ affection?
Do you do both? Do you use a clicker or marker words?

Please share... I am very curious as I was taught to reward with affection only. I have also been told that you should make your dog work for their meal? Not sure what that means....

Lots of useful information on this forum
Agreed with jorski. I do use food, but not only food. I use tugs and balls as well. I use his dinner kibbles and the occasional store bought treat. There's a brand called Vet dogs that seems really nice. I reward with a "yes" as a marker word or "good boy" and then either reward with a treat or a toy or play a game of tug.
I fully believe the dog should work for his meal, but it's kind of opinionated.
When I feed his dinner (only one meal a day) I usually do it by handful and have him work for each handful, which I then feed from my hand. Usually I'll do that for 1/2 to 3/4 or so of the bowl, then I have him do a few commands then send him to his crate and give him the rest in his crate.
 

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I voted yes to 'treats', but as above, it depends. I have an adult rescue/ex-street dog, toys did not interest him, so treats were it for awhile, but now, as the others have said, there are times when his toy (which equals a chance to chase something) is the thing he works for, so I have to really guess/think what is important to him at that time.
For some things, teaching a new thing, especially tricks, treats are it, as you can get a lot of repetition. Toys are great, but they take time & energy to enjoy and sometimes you want your dog to put his energy into the activity.
I try very hard when using treats to remember that I am a human, not a pez dispenser & take the time to speak to, stroke and scritch my dog in ways he loves--for him this is important and probably lowers my own intensity of wanting him to do something (think tiger mom).
Because I use a lot of treats/food I make sure most of it is regular food, but extra yummy. I use Freshpet (which is a cooked food) and his regular kibble marinated in some nice sauce. Sometimes we save the marinade from meals for this. If I'm short on time, cat treats make good emergency treats, plus all the other usuals of hotdogs & cheese sticks.
I train new things by shaping or luring. Sometimes I use a clicker, but also my voice to 'mark' the moment in time. I'll use a clicker sometimes if I've accidentally over-used my 'marker' voice and/or feel I need precision.
 

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For me I train tricks and obedience in the house using her kibble as reward. She has great food drive for this. But once we are put at the park the kibble doesn't cut it (partly interest/partly having to chew it). I use hotdogs/chicken to reward good behaviour (and recall) and the ball for rewarding her tricks/obedience. I find the transition from food drive in the house to the intense ball drive hard to handle sometimes. But once we work through it she is magic.

In the house I mark with a clicker and a yes. Outside just yes. I'm thinking of bringing the clicker out and seeing how that goes.
 

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My dogs are raw-fed, so portioning out their meals for use in training is not ideal. I use Hebrew National hotdogs and string cheese as my high value treats (recalls & focused heeling). Recently, I started using Ziwi Peak air-dried raw food as the main treat. It's like mini squares of beef jerky. The dogs love it and it makes it easier to track their food intake.
 

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We use voice, affection/pets as a reward and hand gestures with voice until she can get down to just the hand gestures to do what we ask w.o saying a word. Have trained many dogs this way and plus side is we do not have to break them of a constant treat after doing what is asked of them.
 

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My girl is very toy-driven, so I use mostly a ball on a string. She would respond to most any toy, though.

Secondarily, I use treats at times. When I play two ball fetch, and I am trying to get her to come right back to me, lining up in front of me and close to my chest, I have a piece of treat in my mouth and spit it out for her to catch--a trick I've seen one of the people at our club use.

I also say, "yes," " good girl, " good fuss, good sitz, etc.

I have a clicker, and she seems to respond to it. But honestly, it often dangles around my neck and I forget to use it in the moment. Guess I need clicker training too.
 

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I use treats for trick training, and sometimes if I have it on me to reward for obedience. Otherwise, he works for affection, a toy, or a release(on walks). I hand feed all his meals so I usually use kibble as a treat, he isn't super food motivated though so If i am starting to train a new command I will use real meat. Usually, I save leftover cuttings(off raw meat usually, sometimes cooked) from dinner and just throw them in the freezer until I need them.
 

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I used treats when my dog was a pup, but only rarely now. The difference in response time with treats compared to "not" was staggering. With treats she snaps into position for sits and heel, throws herself to the ground for down. I want that without treats and when she wasn't doing that. I think she was training me. So now just hand signals, voice, touch.
 
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