General Training

You need better treats

Why it may not always be the case

Motivation vs Information.

Quite often when your puppy isn’t listening to you, you’re given the advise of upping your treat value by meaningful passers by. Swapping that bit of biscuit for a piece of chicken or dried smelly meat. And while I partially agree with this, you need to assess and make a decision based on your own puppy.

Often some pups are not motivated by what I would call, lower value treats, the rich tea of the biscuit tin if you will (and yes some people’s favourite will be rich tea, much like many dogs that actually love the dry biscuit treat- again each to their own). For these upping the treat value to something more appealing may well work.

I generally however advise you also work on the value your puppy sees for you without reinforcement- your relationship. Reinforcement should be a bonus, not the sole reason to want to work with you. Remember to teach your puppy that you’re fun to be around, indoors, outdoors and around distractions. 

If your pup is refusing lower value food in particular scenarios, is upping the treat value going to help them? Likely not. See, if a pup is not willing to engage because of fear, frustration, anxiety, etc, upping the food is likely going to cause more problems. Higher value food can often lead these puppies into scenarios they cannot cope with, often giving us a false sense of success. Your pup is telling you they can’t deal with that situation. Instead of upping the treat value to keep them in the situation and almost mask the problem, we need to remove them from it and work at a pace/distance/intensity the puppy can cope with. This prevents problems and ‘unpredictable’ behaviour later on when the high value food is removed.

So really, I want you to think about your own puppy. Do they simply not like the lower value treats on offer? Do you need to build a better relationship with them first rather than just upping reinforcement that eventually has a ceiling? Or do you need to listen to the information they’re giving you in that particular situation?