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Leslie, What Kind of Treats Do You Use?

Some time ago, Elletee asked what kind of treats Leslie was giving Leo. The answer turned out not to be as simple and straightforward as you might think. Here is her detailed answer in full:
Dogs learn in different ways. Through the consequences of their own actions and/or through association ie: you get the leash, then a walk follows!

In the old days training was a process of coersion, force and intimidation.  It was hell for both the dogs and for many trainers!  In the days of heavy handed, coersive training, motivating the dogs in positive ways was never done. 

Thank goodness training has evolved and is now a much gentler, more positive relationship building process!  This kinder approach builds trust, enthusiasm, committment to work and love between partners!  It also requires a careful use of all positive "reinforcers."

As a firm believer in Positive Training methods, I strive to use all resources available to me to shape the dogs attitude and behaviors.  All our dogs need food, water, exercise, companionship and play.  So, I routinely manipulate the meal times, food quantities, exercise opportunities, availability of toys and time to play in order to use these resources as tools.

This helps me make working time and learning VALUABLE to the dog!  I teach them through the use of treats and other resources that are valuable to them, that if they give me their attention and "play" with me, then they can earn the things they like most!

Dogs also learn from "Pattern Training" — ie: the repetition of the correct behavior followed by positive consequences!  This is their favorite way to learn because I make sure that they can't possibly fail! 

By withholding any labels for behaviors and rewarding every effort, I teach the dogs to "volunteer" behaviors.  I then "capture" the desired behavior with the CLICKER and MARK it for the dog!  This CLICK sound is followed immediately by a treat :) 

The repetition of this Click and Reward series following a desired behavior teaches the dog what is wanted before they ever hear the word associated with the behavior.  I studiously ignore less desired behaviors.  Collies repeat desired behaviors that earn rewards and the behaviors I ignore are extinguished.

What kind of treat I use varies greatly and is determined entirely by each dog I work with.  They have favorite flavors, flavor preferences, as well as texture and smell preferences, too.  When I begin training a dog I find out what their preferences are. 

Sometimes they like my homemade canned salmon, graham cracker and egg treats.  Others like a meat roll made by RED BARN.  Some like boiled and diced Beef Heart meat.  Other dogs are toy motivated rather food motivated.  The dogs show me what they like by their level of enthusiasm and eagerness to work and their ability to sustain their interest :)

I hope this answers the question about treats!

Kind Regards,

Leslie loves answering your questions, and I'm always fascinated by her answers, so please keep them coming!


{ ingrid } at: October 20, 2011 at 5:58 PM said...

Hey I left a PM on your ffn page. Please take a look!

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