When training reward value matters. That reward can be many things. From simple contact with you (affection), actual treats as we will focus on here, or in the case of field training the bird is the ultimate reward.
So, it is important to know the value of your ‘treat’ in relation to the training situation. Treat value matters a great deal when it comes to training dogs. You may be able to use dry treats or even kibble when asking for easy, known behaviors at home – or for situations when the treat itself is the distraction to lower the value of the treat. But when you go out into the world and must compete with smells, sounds, and squirrels, those lame treats aren’t going to cut it! And if you’re trying to work on hard things in a high-distraction environment, you’re going to need to some super high value treats.
You get what you pay for when it comes to behavior, so make sure you’re using the right treats for the right activities.
It is critical to remember; the actual value of the treat is up to the dog…so beware the currency rate can and may change on you! Some pups go bonkers for cheese, others lose it over ice cubes or tortilla chips. In my experience, the most expensive treats are not the most valuable to your dog.
Using this visual aide as a pretty good guide:
from left to right 1,2,3 are not high enough in value to be useful for most training scenarios, for most dogs (unless you NEED a low value treat e.g. starting work with ‘leave it’).
4 (stinky jerky treats) You are in the medium value zone, and like the low value treat, it does have it’s use and place in a training program. But when you really need and want your pups attention to get things rolling, go for the big guns.
5,6,7 Be sure to use only teeny tiny bits of these super high value treats. If needed, these treats are high enough value to help you use ‘luring’ to get your dog to do what you want and be of some help in high-distraction environments. I have learned over the years, most dogs like hotdogs in the same way crackheads like free crack. So, use them responsibly and with care.
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