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A Little Food for Thought When It Comes to Treats

A Little Food for Thought When It Comes to Treats

NYC Dog Trainer | Dog Relations | Holiday dog treats

Let me just say that the word “treat’ implies that there is something particularly special about the quality or the palatability or the salience. Remember that “treat” also can be an experience that is pleasurable. In the life of your dog that could be a great game, a cuddle or a belly scratch, a ride in the car or going to the pet store.

Food rewards are a very obvious way of marking a behavior because it’s practically impossible for the dog to misunderstand that it is a reward or pleasurable consequence for something they have just done. It also registers in a non- intellectual and instinctive way. The scientific label is that it is a “primal” reward. Primal meaning: it is necessary for sustaining life.

I will discuss “edible” treats here.

  • Food rewards do not have to be “special” treats in a smaller bag that is labeled “treats”
  • Your dog will not get fat if you use food intelligently.
  • Treats can be food that is already in your fridge or your pantry:
    1. Diced fruit (apple, pear, water melon, strawberry)
    2. Cheese bits (creamy cheese licks, string cheese)
    3. Meat bits (chicken, turkey, hamburger, hot dogs, fish (sardines, bits of salmon, and little freeze dried fish)

If you buy training treats: please read ingredients!!!

Most commercial small and soft treats have glycerin and undesirable preservatives in them even though the front of the package says ALL NATURAL or HEALTHY. Freeze dried raw meat or food patties are a much better option.

It is also a very good idea to notice which foods the dog adores and which ones are only moderately interesting to him.

Your dog will always appreciate food rewards but because the value of the food transfers into the activity that the food was associated with you will not depend on food. You only need it once in a while to keep the behavior alive, but that is food for thought for another post.


Elisabeth Weiss is a highly certified, experienced dog trainer in Manhattan, NYC. To learn more about dog training services, contact us by phone at (917) 783-1473 or our contact form.

  1. How adorable! Such manners for Nono and Sia. Very creative on the adults end.

    Comment by karen on June 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm
  2. That is totally hilarious! Great job and really fun to watch!

    Comment by Fran on June 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm
  3. Actually my friend and website designer Kendra Dixson was the person who sent me the video. So 99% of the credit goes to her!

    Comment by Elisabeth on June 11, 2011 at 7:55 am
  4. Hee hee, well a good friend of mine forwarded it to me so the list goes on. I think it is so cute and I’m amazed at how well the dogs are behaved, although you do see a little help from the human hands so they don’t dive their noses into their dish. lol

    Comment by Kendra Dixson on June 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm
  5. yes the dogs are great! I also liked HOW they helped the dogs by pretending it was a human “putting your chin in your hands” gesture. It is most entertaining.

    Comment by Elisabeth Weiss on June 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm