To treat, or not to treat? - AmericaNowNews.com

To treat, or not to treat?

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Getting somebody to do something for you often requires an incentive. Well, the same is true with dogs. And when it comes to training a dog, our pet pro, Luciano Aguilar, says a tasty food treat goes a long way in persuading "Rover" to roll over.

"Most dogs are highly food-motivated, so whether you're teaching your dog to simply sit or teaching him a complex trick, food treats can be a very effective training tool," explains Luciano. "But the trick you need to learn is when and when not to use treats as a reward so your pup respects you and not the treat."

Positive reinforcement is the name of the game when teaching your dog commands and a great way to reinforce good behavior. It can be praise, petting or a favorite toy or game. But the quickest way to a dog's obedient heart is food.

"Keep in mind, your dog determines the value of any reward," Luciano says. "If a food treat isn't worth the effort to him, he's not going to follow your command."

Food treats should be very enticing and irresistible to your dog, so experiment to see what kind of treats he responds to best.

"It's like paying kids a quarter every time you ask them to do something," adds Luciano. "My seven-year-old will say, 'Great!' My 10-year-old will try to haggle with me. And my 13-year-old will say, 'It's not worth it. Make the seven-year-old do it!'"

Whatever it is, you want to make sure it's a small and soft piece of food so your dog can quickly gulp it down and look to you for more. Never give your dog a treat that he has to chew or that breaks into bits and falls on the floor.

At first, you want to pay your dog on a fixed ratio… usually one-to-one. Every time he performs the behavior correctly, pay him with a treat.

A food treat's value goes down over time, so you want to change your dog's pay schedule so he doesn't get bored and stop responding to your commands. Once he's performed the task 15 times or so, move on to a variable ratio. You change the pay schedule so he doesn't expect a treat every time. Every time you give your dog a food treat, be sure to give him a verbal reward too. Praise him by saying "Yes!" or "Good dog!"

"Eventually, you'll be able to stop giving him food treats altogether," says Luciano. "But don't ever stop giving your dog verbal encouragement and praise!"

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