Ten Rewards to Use with Your Dog during Training

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Treats are a powerful training tool when you’re teaching your dog proper behaviors. Most dogs prefer food treats, but some dogs respond better to toys or other playthings. Here are some edible and nonedible treats you can offer your dog when you’re training him.

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  • Dry or semi-dry treats

  • Carrots

  • Broccoli

  • Almost any kind of fruit

  • Cheese (try low-sodium string cheese)

  • Ball

  • Frisbee

  • Large stones

  • Sticks

  • His favorite toy

Your dog also may respond to verbal praise or petting as a motivator. Use whatever excites your dog — as long as it doesn’t become a hindrance in your training. Trying to train a dog with a reward he doesn’t like is pointless.

When using edible treats, use ones that you can keep in a pocket within easy reach. When you use something moist or soggy that has to be carried in a plastic bag, by the time you fish it out to give to your dog, he has forgotten what it’s for.

The ideal treat is dry and no bigger than 1/4 inch (even smaller for toy dogs). The bigger the treat, the longer it takes your dog to consume it, which will break his concentration from what you’re teaching him.

Make sure you choose a treat with very few ingredients and preservatives and one that provides good nutrition for your dog. Avoid treats high in salt or sugar and ones made in China.

Not all human food is safe for dogs. For example, the chemical agents found in chocolate that make it tasty to us are harmful for dogs. So keep your dog away from chocolate. Also avoid macadamia nuts and onions, which can cause abdominal pain and nausea. Grapes and raisins from nonorganic sources and candy that contains xylitol as a sugar substitute can cause nausea, liver failure, and seizures.


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