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5 Tips on How to Use Treats to Train Your Pet

 

Want to tame your energetic pet? Maybe you just want to teach them a few fun tricks. There are many methods, tactics, and technologies available these days to help train your pet. However, the one method that works universally – regardless of whether you have a dog, cat, rabbit or bird – is TREATS.

How to Use Treats for Training Your Pet

Some pet parents worry that using treats to train their pet is a bit like bribery, but think of it more like compensation. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding your pet when he or she has performed the desired task. If you’re looking to train your pet using treats in the future, be sure to keep in mind these 5 essential tips:

1. Stick to Small Treats

Since training is typically an ongoing and repetitive process, stay away from using huge treats that will cause your pet to put on weight when consumed regularly. If needed, break large treats up into smaller pieces for training.

Woman holding treat in air, cat standing up to reach it

2. Remove Any Distractions

If you want your pet to focus on the task at hand — which is of course to earn a treat — the last thing you want is for them to be in a distracting environment where they’ll have a difficult time focusing. To start, you should find a quiet, contained space to begin training your pet so you’ll have their full attention during the process. As they become more responsive to your commands, you can begin to train them in more diverse environments.

Man smiling holding small gray bird in his hands

3. Take it One Step at a Time

It’s always easier to learn a new skill one step at a time than it is to grasp a complicated concept all in one go. Many pet parents end up disappointed when their training doesn’t work out because their pet couldn’t master the desired behavior all at once.

Break each task down into smaller, more manageable steps and teach these to your pet one at a time. Learning to sit? Reward them with a treat when they lower their hind. Learning to give a paw? Reward them when they pick it up off the ground. Eventually, they’ll start to realize what behavior you’re aiming for.

Person holding dogs hand and feeding it a treat

4. Only Reward the Correct Behavior

The key to encouraging the behavior you’re looking for? Don’t cave to the anxious excitement. Yes, it’s extremely cute when your pet freaks out at the prospect of a treat, but you should hold off giving it to them until they calm down and do what you’ve commanded. Otherwise, you end up reinforcing that anxious, excited behavior is good and they should continue to act in that manner.

Person reaching hand out to chinchilla in cage

5. “Fade the Lure” Before it Becomes a Bribe

Though treats are a great way to initially train your pet, you will want to slowly remove the treat as the sole incentive once the behavior has been thoroughly learned to prevent them from only doing the desired behavior when a treat is involved.

Once your pet has learned the desired behavior, mimic the same hand gesture you use to deliver a treat and have them perform the desired behavior, then reward them with positive reinforcement (Good boy!). You can still give them a treat shortly after or as an extra reward, but you want your pet to associate performing the desired behavior with the hand gesture – not the treat.

Woman kissing puppy on the nose

With these five tips, you can teach your pet nearly any trick or task. Just find the right treat! At Vitakraft we make small-batch treats with real ingredients and real meats. Just choose your animal and there’s a treat for you!