Treats are just like love: They are just as pleasurable to give as they are to receive. Just be sure you (and everyone else in the household) realize that treats are food. They should be doled out in tiny portions.
If you reward your puppy with a treat and he lies down to chew it, it is too large. Consider it part of his dinner and reduce his evening meal accordingly. A true treat is a reward that’s small enough to be swallowed after one crunch. It’s just a taste.
Treating Your Puppy
Whether you use Treats for training purposes or just to reward your puppy for being your buddy, making your own treats gives you control over his nutritional components as well as his size.
How Many Treats Should You Give? Of course, giving extra treats between meals has the potential for busting your dog’s diet. Some willpower is in order, both for you and your dog! Treats should never make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s total diet.
Puppy Training Treats
We love using training treats with our puppies; both our puppies have learned very quickly thanks to positive reinforcement training. Remember that you’ll need much training treats when initially training your dog, so the key is to make training treats very small (think pea-size) and then compensate by reducing your dog’s meal size.
Meat treats work best with many dogs, and often the stronger-scented treats like the liver are most effective. Allowing refrigerated treats to warm to room temperature 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.
Tricks and Training Treats
When your puppy has learned some of the basics commands, you can practice by turning it all into fun. For example, put the puppy in a sit, then encourage some gym exercise with a series of down-sit-down-sit until it’s time for a treat. Or put him on a sit-stay and let him watch you hide a toy under the edge of a nearby chair.
Keep him on a stay for a moment more, perhaps as you wonder out loud, “Where is the toy?” Then give him the release and cue, “okay—find it!” If he hasn’t figured out what to do, help him look for it. “Find it” becomes the command to locate any hidden item—and a good game.
Keeping in mind that you can teach your puppy almost any trick simply by giving that action a one-word command. (Don’t worry if it’s actually two words; say them as one.)
How to Teach a Dog to Roll Over
Dogs like to roll over onto their backs and wriggle, especially on a nice thick rug! Turn this backscratching into a trick by catching your puppy as he begins and saying, “Roll Over. Good boy!” When your pup has reached the stage of being able to hold a steady sit-stay, you can add another trick.
Balance a small dog biscuit on top of his nose as you say “on trust”. (You may have to hold his chin steady the first few times.) When he has held it for a second or two, give him the release signal (“okay” or “take it”) as you gently but quickly lift his chin up, which will toss the biscuit into the air so he can catch the biscuit as it falls.
Hide and Seek with Treats
Kids and puppies love to play hide-and-seek, but anyone can get in on the game. Dogs seek by scent, so at least in the beginning crouch down to be nearer the pup’s level. Put your puppy on a sit-stay, let him see you hide (behind a chair or a door) and then call out “find me!”
Be sure he finds you, even if it means you have to call out his name a couple of times. Make a big deal of it when he does—and then repeat the game. Don’t make it any more difficult until he can find you instantly at an easier level.
Reward him occasionally with a small treat, but make finding you the most exciting part of the game, which means you will progress slowly from hiding where he can at least partially see you to hiding in another room and eventually the back of a clothes closet where your scent will be masked. He won’t play if it isn’t fun, so be sure he does find you every time.
Training games to Play with your dog
Shaking hands is an old favorite and easy to teach—touch their toes and most pups will raise that paw. Lift it gently and say “shake hands” (or “give me a paw“) as he does.
When that much has been mastered, you can turn it into a paw raised higher, and without shaking it say “wave goodbye!” But that’s for later; a polite puppy handshake is fine for now.
An alternative to using “off ” to control jumping up is two paws raised in a jump-up greeting, but only on a command of “high five!” There are plenty of games to play outdoors—mostly chasing toys or navigating obstacles.
The “puppy pen” can contain all kinds of things as long as they are safe to chew, close to the ground, and can be kept relatively clean.
There’s no such thing as failure in puppy games. Some dogs are naturally better than others at games in general. Some enjoy one type of game more than another.
Go with your pup’s game preferences now and you can expand them into tricks later. Don’t be a pushy parent. Keep learning fun for both of you.