Here is the answer to a thirty-something years old question. “Do I use treats to train dogs?” My answer. “No, I don’t. Personally, I don’t like carrying a fanny pack of liver treats on me. Treats are used more as bribery than reward and I don’t see how that can really teach anyone, human or canine, anything good.”
I’m still happily surprised when the pet parent informs me that they are glad to hear me say that! I don’t have to wait very long to hear that they have tried using treats and that just didn’t work. Further explanation and a handful of questions later, fleshed out the fact that all their dog was interested in was the treat. After a couple of weeks, the “treat” thrill wore off. Dogs live in the moment. If there was a bubble over your dog’s head it would say “No treat, no trick!”
A good trainer teaches a canine to respond to voice commands and body language. The reward for doing a good job is love, affection, and a strong bond built on respect between trainer and canine. An occasional treat is fine, but it only lasts until swallowed! Love and affection last a lifetime.
A great trainer will prepare your dog to control impulsive reactions and respond appropriately despite distractions, especially during safety-threatening situations.
Let’s say you open the door for a delivery and your dog attempts to sneak out through the partially opened door while you’re distracted. Can you stop your dog before he is through the door?
What if your dog runs out of your home and is heading for the street when there is oncoming traffic? How will a treat help your dog then? I can only imagine a pet parent running through the house to get a treat and then running outside trying to get their dog’s attention. In a good scenario, your dog remains safe and then comes when you call him. What happens next when you try to collar him and walk home? Will he dodge you and run off again?
A well-trained dog is a safe dog. A well-trained dog is a happy dog.