To Treat Or Not To Treat: Expert Training Advice

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Many dog owners rely on using dog treats for training, others believe in different approaches. An expert in dog training, Nicole Wilde, offers her advice about the pros and cons of different training methods.

For the full article, visit Is Treat-less Training the Way to Go? Expert advice on treat-less training.

Image Source: Crystal Rolfe

Is Treat-less Training the Way to Go?
Expert advice on treat-less training
Q: In your view, what is the best way to train a dog? We’ve used a trainer who is totally against treat training. He believes in body language and tone of voice only. His method seems to work wonderfully for him (he is a retired police dog trainer) and some of his followers. I must say I pride myself in being a reasonably intelligent person and I’m very dedicated and hardworking when it comes to training my dog. However, I’ve not been very successful with the no-treat training, which has been quite discouraging. We also know that most people (apparently!) swear by training with treats. What do you think?—Vera Dolan 
A: In the traditional “body language, tone of voice only” style of training, once a dog has learned a behaviour but doesn’t respond properly, he receives a correction in the form of a choke chain jerk or similar aversive technique. Do dogs learn that way? Sure. Is it pleasant for them? Not so much….

For training to be effective, non-coercive, and pleasant, the dog must want to cooperate. This is achieved by providing adequate motivation. For most dogs, food is extremely motivating, easy to use, and keeps the dog’s focus. If the owner’s timing isn’t the best, the worst that happens is that the dog receives an extra treat.

Some owners are concerned that their dogs will become dependent on food. But there is a difference between bribery—waggling a treat so a dog will come, for example—and proper reward-based training….

Reward-based training has the added benefit of creating a bond of trust between dog and owner. So keep up the good work! 

Nicole Wilde is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer who lectures worldwide on canine behaviour. Click here to visit her site. 




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