A big part of positive reinforcement training is using treats to praise and/or reward your dog. Before we dive into what types of treats to use, let us understand the term Positive reinforcement.
Positive Reinforcement (R+ for short) is the presentation of something pleasant or rewarding immediately following a behavior. Using positive reinforcement to train your dog or cat means you reward the behaviors you like and ignore the behaviors you do not like. Correct timing is essential when using positive reinforcement. The reward must occur immediately, or your pet may not associate it with the proper action. For example, if you have your dog sit, but reward him after he is already stood up again, he’ll think he’s being rewarded for standing up.
Using treats for training
A treat should be enticing and irresistible to your pet. It should be a small, soft, piece of food, so that he will immediately gulp it down and look to you for more. The kind of dog or cat treat you use when training can make a big difference in how successful your training sessions are. With so many options available, it can be hard to know what dog treats you should buy.
Here is the different grading of treats used by most in training.
1. High value treats tend to be moist or freeze-dried, extra smelly, and something your dog does not get very often (if at all) outside of training sessions. Think tiny pieces of chicken, liverwurst, tripe, steak, cheese etc. High value treats is great for introducing your dog to a new training or within a highly distracting environment
2. Medium value treats are usually semi-moist or dry treats made from ingredients that your dog does not get in their regular food. Medium value treats and are given more frequently during training sessions and in everyday routines than high value treats. You can use them for maintaining already learned behavior or as part of enrichment activities.
3. Low value treats are great to work into your training because they tend to be lower calorie than high and medium value dog treats. Low value treats are usually dry and crunchy, usually used for low distraction environments, or throughout the day to encourage continued good behavior.
Every dog and cat are food motivated so experiment a bit to see what works best for your pet.
Always start with high value treat when you start something new, this will help to shape the behavior and then move it to medium/ low value as the behavior is fluent.