Tricks For Treats!
When it comes to dog training, the vast majority of dog trainers and owners believe that they have to count on treats.
They teach the dog to do a trick. Then they give the dog a treat.
I don’t have anything against treats in and of themselves, but there is a difference between treat-based dog training and relationship-based dog training.
Let’s look at an example. Perhaps you’re out for a walk and your dog sees a person walking on the street and he stops walking and starts barking at the person.
At its worst, a treat-based dog training approach might look at the situation and think, “Ok what can I do to get my dog to stop barking?” So the treats come out and you’re trying to get your dog’s attention, waving a treat in front of his nose, tugging at the leash, and saying, “C’mon, Rover, settle down. Come over here. Sit. Sit. Sit Rover. Sit. Rover. Rover. C’mere. Rover. Sit.” Your dog glances at you like you’re an idiot, maybe takes the treat, gets more revved and keeps barking until the person is sufficiently far away.
At its best, a treat based dog training approach might get Rover to sit, but his eyes and mind are on the person. He takes the treat, but he’s sitting as if he’s on the starting block. He’s not settled. But sure, he’s in a sit.
Relationship-based dog training is going to look a bit different, because the focus is different.
Relationship-based dog training values the relationship first, and that includes paying attention to the dog’s emotional state. For the most part, the dog isn’t going to get to the point where they fixate and start barking at a passer-by. But it still happens. In that case, the owner would ask themselves, “My dog is anxious; how can I take control of this situation, and help my dog feel safe again?” The owner would notice the dog’s energy shifting early, and then kindly, firmly, and calmly lead the dog to the other side of the street, maybe even further away, monitoring the dog’s energy. Then the owner would put in place a calming technique to help the dog feel more calm as the person walks by.
When dog training only focuses on using treats to teach SIT, STAY, and DOWN, it misses the mark terribly. Sure you can teach a dog to SIT. But does that SIT make the dog feel safe and comfortable? Is the SIT reliable when the dog is revved? Does the SIT get to the root of the problem? Does the SIT make the dog trust and respect you? Does the SIT win the heart and mind of your dog? Nope.
You can’t train a dog to trust you. You can’t train a dog to be confident. You can’t train a dog to feel safe. You can’t train a dog to have a relationship with you. Training comes after relationship, not before.
With relationship-based dog training we put trust and respect first. The dog learns to look to you as a leader who will help him navigate life situations calmly and safety. From there, he wants to listen to you and follow your lead.
It’s only at this point that treats make the most sense to your dog. Treats become a way to surprise, delight, and communicate with your dog!
Want to learn how to practice relationship-based dog training with your dog! It's all right here.
Here's to You and Your Dog!
P.S. Check out also The 8 Skills You Should Train your Dog