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Good Dog! Positive Reinforcement While Feeding

Good Dog! Positive Reinforcement While Feeding

The Guilt-Free Guide to Treat Training

I’ll admit, when my veterinarian first recommended that I use treats to train my pup, Buddy, I was a bit skeptical. Wasn’t that just going to make him fat and spoiled? But after learning more about the power of positive reinforcement, I can say with certainty – this approach has been a total game-changer for me and my furry friend.

The Science Behind Positive Reinforcement

As it turns out, dogs respond best to praise, food, and toys. Positive reinforcement training uses a reward to reinforce desired behaviors, making it one of the most effective tools for shaping your pup’s behavior. The key is getting the timing right – the reward has to come immediately after the good behavior, or your dog may not make the connection.

I remember the first time I tried this with Buddy. I had been struggling to get him to “sit” on command, until I started holding a treat over his head and luring him into the sit position. As soon as his cute little behind hit the ground, I enthusiastically said “Yes!” and gave him the treat. Buddy caught on lightning-fast, and now “sit” is one of his go-to tricks.

Overcoming the Guilt

Of course, the main concern I hear from pet owners is that all those treats are going to make their dogs pack on the pounds. But it is entirely possible to keep your dog at a healthy weight while using positive reinforcement. The key is to be strategic about when and how you use those enticing morsels.

One of my favorite tricks is to reserve a portion of Buddy’s daily food allotment for training sessions. That way, he’s getting his regular nutrition, but the extra treats don’t add unwanted calories. I also make sure to use small, low-calorie options like cheerios or steamed green beans. And I always cut those store-bought treats down to size – no need for giant biscuits when a pea-sized morsel will do the trick.

Diversifying the Rewards

Of course, treats aren’t the only way to positively reinforce good behavior. Hand-feeding your dog can also be a powerful tool, as it helps build a strong bond and teaches bite inhibition. And don’t forget the power of praise, play, and access to favorite activities as rewards.

I love playing a quick game of fetch with Buddy after a successful training session. Not only does it reinforce the behavior I’m trying to teach, but it also gives him a chance to burn off some energy. And when he nails a trick, I make sure to shower him with enthusiastic “Good boy!” affirmations. Buddy eats up that positive attention like it’s his favorite treat.

Putting it All Together

So, if you’re ready to ditch the guilt and harness the power of positive reinforcement, here are my top tips:

  • Use a portion of your dog’s regular meals as training treats
  • Opt for low-calorie options like veggies or small, cut-down store-bought treats
  • Incorporate play, praise, and access to favorite activities as rewards
  • Be consistent and patient – it may take time for your dog to learn new behaviors

With a little creativity and a whole lot of enthusiasm, you can transform mealtime into a fun, rewarding experience for both you and your pup. And who knows, you might even end up with a few new tricks up your sleeve!

Ready to get started? Head on over to to find everything you need to embark on your positive reinforcement journey. Happy training, my fellow dog lovers!

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