When we talk about positive education of your dog, we all have in mind the box of treats! But did you know that dog training without treats is possible while using positive approach?
Positive education is about reinforcing the good behaviors of our dogs so that they can prefer one behavior over another. The treat is often used to positively reinforce the desired behavior.
However, in some cases the use of the treat does not work or may be inappropriate. Indeed, if your dog is not greedy or too anxious to want to eat or for any other reason, there are other solutions just as effective.
Examples of positive dog training without treats!
Here are four ways to reward your dog without using treats.
Petting your dog to congratulate him is good, as long as your dog enjoys it. Many owners think that it’s always a good thing, but this is a misconception. The moment and the place when you pet a dog and the person who does it are all elements that will determine if your dog likes it or not.
If you come across a person on the street that you know and appreciate, you may enjoy a hug and appreciate the physical contact. But if you run into an unknown person that initiates some form of physical contact, it is likely to irritate or bother you. For a dog, the same principles apply, so it is important to differentiate the petting done by the master from the one done by a stranger. In addition, it is always better to ask your dog before petting him by extending a hand towards him and to favor a caress. Finally, watch your dog carefully and as soon as he starts to turn his head, lick his nose or yawn, it’s time to end the contact.
You will understand that a caress to reward a dog is good only if he finds it really pleasant!
Playing is a great way to reward a dog, while allowing him to channel its energy and strengthen its relationship with you. On the other hand, throwing the ball and other chasing games should be avoided because they strengthen your dog’s hunting instinct and teach him that the fun is far from you.
You should focus on face-to-face games, such as controlled traction games. Likewise, for your dog to consider this type of play as something pleasant and therefore for this activity to allow you to reward your dog for good behavior, your attitude should be positive and encouraging.
Obviously the traditional “that’s good!” is known by all masters! But very often the verbal reinforcement is not intense enough and your dog does not necessarily perceive the positive side of the message. Ideally, it must be done with a high-pitched voice and if you positively reinforce the word “that’s good” beforehand, that’s even better.
Access to what he wants
Here’s one final point on positive dog training without treats. Allowing your dog to get what he wants is the most important and the most powerful strategy in a learning process. Indeed, your dog may be led to develop bad habits because, without knowing it, you have allowed him to get what he wanted by having certain types of behavior.
For example, if your dog gets excited or jumps on you to get your attention and you give it to him, just by looking at him, you are validating how he behaves. If your dog pulls on a leash and you move forward, you are validating the behavior of pulling to move forward, etc.
Now think about not validating your dog for an attitude that does not suit you. Therefore, it’s best to teach your dog that having the right attitude is the key to getting what he wants.
There you have it, you now know four ways to positive dog training without treats and to an appropriate education process that will reinforce the relationship with your dog.
Of course, you can keep using treats if it is practical and useful, but be careful not to be dependent on it. It is above all your relationship that should be positive for your dog and not a bag of candy! So, how will you be positively rewarding your dog in the future? Do not hesitate to share your experience!