What are the benefits of dog treats?

Dog eating treat

(Q) What are the benefits of dog treats and which are the best to give your dog?

(A) Your Dog says: For training purposes, treats are invaluable. Around 90 per cent of dogs are motivated by food, making it the most effective reward to offer. Commercially produced treats are available as either dry, crunchy biscuits or semi-moist sticks, strips, and shapes. Semi-moist are probably the most tempting and easiest to use for training — they are easy to break into small pieces and the dog can eat them quickly so you won’t have to wait for him to finish each mouthful.

If you want to use dry treats (as a lower grade reward for example), put a few into a plastic bag and tap them with a rolling pin to break them into smaller fragments. Grade the treats you give according to their appeal to your dog and use them accordingly. A five-star treat would be something he really likes, but doesn’t receive very often. At the other end of the scale a one-star treat would still be worth working for but is not quite as exciting. Reserve five-star treats for occasions such as when he’s in an environment where there are lots of distractions, if he has achieved something he finds difficult, or has done it exceptionally well.

The lower-ranked treats can be used as a reward for simple exercises he has already learned, in situations with no distractions. Treats can have more than one role. In addition to being invaluable for training, they can also be used to channel chewing activities away from cherished household items, or to provide mental stimulation and entertainment when you have to go out and leave your pet alone. It’s very easy to overfeed treats. All treats therefore should be regarded as being part of the daily food ration, not an addition to it, and the quantity of food given at mealtimes reduced accordingly.

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