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Treat Preference Test

We will use small treats to reward and reinforce good behavior. If your dog doesn't like the treat, then it isn't rewarding. It's like giving a child licorice for straight A's. Yes, it's candy, but they don't like it! If they don't like it, they're not going to work for it! Especially when there are other things around that ARE rewarding.

How it's Done
  1. Choose 3 - 5 different types of treats (non-crumbly).

  2. Cut them into pieces about the size of a pea.

  3. Take your dog outside, somewhere they get distracted.

  4. Offer them one of the treats.

  5. If they don't eat it, don't try to talk them into it. Go to the next treat.

  6. If they eat the treat, try another one.

  7. Repeat with each of the different treats.

  8. Go somewhere else where your dog is distracted and do the test again.

The treats your dog likes the best are the ones you will use in class. It's good to have at least 2-3 different options.

  • String Cheese

  • Happy Howie's Dog Food Roll

  • Red Barn Naturals Dog Food Roll

  • Ziwi Peak

  • Stella and Chewy mixers

  • Pure Bites liver

  • Beef Hot Dog

  • Chicken

Some kids actually do like black licorice, so think outside the box if these don't do it for your dog. We have had dogs in class who would turn up their nose to hot dog and ONLY worked for pupperoni!

Examples

My dog is not treat motivated!

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We need food to survive, so it is rare for a dog to be completely uninterested in treats. If your dog will not eat treats, here are some things to consider.​

  • Are they eating too much in their regular meals?

    Most American dogs are overfed. If your dog is eating too much and constantly full, treats may not be motivating.

    SOLUTION: reduce their daily meals slightly

     

  • Are they free fed?

    If your dog knows they can eat for free anytime they want, they may not be motivated to "work" for it.

    SOLUTION: feed twice a day and pick up the bowl after 15 minutes

     

  • Are they too anxious or stressed to eat?

    If your dog gets really excited about treats at home but won't eat them somewhere else, it could be stress. If you are in a scary situation, you wouldn't want to eat even your favorite dessert. 

    SOLUTION: Your dog may need time to adjust to new environments before they are able to learn, so they may just watch in class at first. Their confidence will grow with experience.

     

  • Is the treat not rewarding enough for them to ignore distractions?

    Treats are not the only thing that dogs find rewarding. Sniffing and scanning the environment might be more interesting that the treats you have.

    SOLUTION: Get better treats.

     

  • Do they find it more rewarding to get praise and petting from you?

    SOLUTION: Use praise and petting to reward your dog instead of treats.