Let’s face it: we all like treats. I love a cookie or piece of candy–but I know that too many treats in my diet are not a good idea. The same holds true for our dogs. Dogs love treats–and we love giving our dogs treats–but too much of a good thing causes problems, from digestive issues to added weight. Some willpower is in order, both for you and your dog!
Whether you use them for training purposes, to calm your dog during a stressful time, or just to reward your dogs for being your buddy, treating your dog can strengthen the bond between you and your four-legged best buddy. Before you break out the treat bag, though, ask yourself:
How Many Treats Can I Give My Dog a Day?
The answer, in terms of ounces or treat count, depends on your dog’s weight, age, and activity level but, in general, treats should never make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s total diet.
That said, we love using training treats with our dogs; both our dogs have learned very quickly thanks to positive reinforcement training. Remember that you’ll need many training treats when initially training your dog so the key is to make training treats small (think pea-sized) and then compensate by reducing your dog’s meal size.
Meat treats work best with many dogs and often the stronger-scented treats like liver are most effective. Allowing refrigerated treats to warm to room temperature (or warm them in the palm of your hand) before you use them will bring out the scent to further entice your dog. You’ll also get the best results if the training treats are used exclusively for training.
Many trainers also use a dog’s regular meal as a training tool, meaning that you can give out far more “treats” as positive reinforcement training tools. A serving of chicken, which might have comprised your dog’s dinner, can be cut into small bits and used as training treats instead.