The treats in our house are constantly flowing for Lucas, because let’s be real, treats get your dog to listen to you when all else fails. As soon as they smell that little morsel, they are putty in your hands and will do anything to get it. However, it’s important to know how and when to give healthy treats so that you aren’t giving your dog too many or making it so that they rely on a treat to do anything.
How to use treats in the most effective manner: treats should be given to reward calm behaviors. Yes, they are used to teach a puppy how to sit and stay, but they should also reward behavior. If your dog is jumping around at the tie you are getting ready to give him the treat, make sure he’s calm and submissive before giving it to him. Dogs can smell most treats from far away, so they will know you have it; make them work to get it and encourage calmness.
Use your dog’s nose to alert them to the treat because their noses are in the most important part of their brain! But as previously mentioned, do not over excite your dog or he will lose the task of the training in all of the excitement of the treat. Let them sniff the treat and then calmly continue with your command to them.
When to give dog treats: Dog treats, much like human snacks, should be given between meals. If you are training, do not do it right before a meal or right after a meal when he has a full belly. Consider using dinner as the treat in that scenario, training him with pieces of kibble so he has to work for his meal. Other than that, make sure treats and training are done between breakfast and dinner.
How to choose a dog treat: appeal to your dog’s tastes while also shopping in the same way you would for your family. Check the ingredients list and make sure you recognize everything in the list (if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably a safe bet to stay away from it!) Dogs eat different parts of animals (i.e. liver, tendons) than we do, so don’t be discouraged by an ingredient like that, they’ll love it!
If you are concerned about your dog’s nutritional needs or the contents of a food or treat that you are feeding them, consult your vet for more advice. They know a lot about nutrition and they know a lot about your dog’s specific needs in regard to breed and other factors.