I love Cesar Millan and I take a lot of his advice. Treats or Not, and How and When?
Here’s what Cesar recommends:
Fans of mine know how important positive reinforcement is to me as a behavior modification technique. Positive reinforcement might not always mean treats you can eat, but they are one of the most popular tools for both dogs and owners. Giving dog treats is more than an expression of love for our dog; it can be a critical component in dog training and rewarding good dog behavior.
One of the reasons treats work so well in training, is because a dog’s sense of smell is so unbelievable. Dogs can smell a treat from over 20 yards away and can get a pretty good idea of the main ingredients. Not all treats are created equal though. Here are some tips for which healthy dog treats to give, how to give dog treats, and when to give dog treats.
When to give dog treats.
In between meals is the ideal time to give treats. Choose a treat that your dog will enjoy. As a rule of thumb I save the best, most delectable treats for last, to reengage a dog if she begins to lose interest in the training session. If you are using treats as a training tool, your treat won’t work as well right after your dog has had a full meal. Make sure your treat giving occurs in between meals and not immediately before or after a meal.
Here is a good technique for giving treats. Hold the treat in your hand between the first two fingers and the thumb. Let your dog sniff so that she knows it is there, and remember my rule: nose first, then eyes, then ears! When you engage your dog’s nose, you are appealing to the most important part of her brain.
Next, as she is sniffing and getting interested, slowly lift the treat above nose height and move it gradually over her head and slightly back towards her shoulders. The aim is for your dog to lift her head up, move her shoulders back, and naturally have her butt lower to the floor.
Lift the treat slowly and easily so that your dog’s nose follows it in your hand. If she jumps at your hand, take it away. Next time, have the treat hand closer to her head. The moment she begins to follow the treat with her nose and eyes and her butt beings to move to the floor, say, “sit,” calmly and easily, and give her the treat. Use a natural voice as you don’t want to startle or distract her. Remember, one of my cardinal rules for training is “don’t overexcite your dog so that she loses the lesson in all the commotion.”
Exercise and discipline before affection.
Remember, dog treats are a form of affection. They need to be given at the right time and for the right reasons. You can actually confuse your dog if you’re not consistent in how you administer treats. Make sure exercise and discipline come first and then affection.