When Treats Don’t Work to Train Your Dog

When Treats Don’t Work to Train Your Dog

If your dogs are anything like my two black labs, they are always running around and love to play. They enjoy doing anything that involves tearing up your favorite household items or running in any direction available. That’s all fine and dandy until it’s time to train them to behave. So, we turned to puppy training.

Of course, the training classes taught the dogs some behavioral tricks and how to properly walk while on a leash. They did so well in class and, after a few struggles, they succeeded with these tricks at home as well. But then came the real challenge: getting these puppies (who are not so little) to behave outside.

We grabbed our bag of treats and headed out for a walk around the neighborhood. That first trip was a disaster. They didn’t do what was asked of them, no matter how many treats were offered. And it wasn’t just that one trip – we tried multiple times after this, all to no avail. They weren’t interested in the treats. Being outside was reward enough for them.

And then we realized that was the key. We had to make going outside the ultimate treat. But how?

We took it step-by-step, because it wasn’t an easy thing to change their behaviors, let alone their mentality. The first goal we set was to get the dogs to walk beside us instead of in front of us. Any time they got too excited and ran in front, I stopped moving until they realized they couldn’t go anywhere except to my side. It frustrated them, but eventually the concept got through to them.

Now going on walks with the dogs is a pleasure for all of us, even the dogs. They behave, even if we don’t have them on a leash.

I still suggest training classes to get the basics down, but if the treat training doesn’t carry through, keep in mind that there are other ways. Figure out what inspires your dog to do something and use that to your advantage. It could be a bone, a toy, going outside, or even extra affection. Only give the dog its life reward if they are doing exactly what you need them to do. Stay diligent with this training to make sure to keep the dog on track and your hard work will pay off.

Tim is the owner of two black labs and when he is not work for CableDeals.org he is out and about with his wife and his boys.  If you would like to see more of what Tim does follow him on Twitter @TimLCooley.

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