I do not understand, or maybe I am stupid, why dog trainers insist on giving dog treats for training and socialization. I am a dog handler/trainer and have never given my animal a treat for performing a duty of any sort. I am ex-military and, in the beginning, I was taught to teach without the aid of treats. Then, too, think about the times you would be without treats. What is the dog to do? Sit and wait until you find a treat before he/she goes on to the next thing on the list?
I train my dog with love and discipline, that’s all. And it works. I was told a long, long time ago, and I then told all the people under my control, that a dog learns the same way a child learns and that is through repetition, praise and stern punishment. Cruelty, you say, but it is not. I did not say to be cruel, I said punish. Think about it, you as a child knew that if you did a certain thing or do not do a certain thing you would be punished. Therefore, that certain thing was done or that certain thing was not done in order not to be punished or see your parents, in this case, the master, get angry.
All animals are the same and learn the same way. Some are slower than others and some are very quick to learn. Then there are those that no matter what, you better keep a close eye on them if you value your life. But, they still learned by repetition, praise and stern punishment, not by giving out bits of treats. My dogs do it because they either love me or they want to. When I give them something, it’s a full meal, not a treat.
So, the next time you are told to give your animal dog treats for training and socialization, think about the military, police, TSA, Border Patrol, etc. who does not do it and see how disciplined their animals are. They only get a pat on their flanks or get a chance to chase a ball or, my favorite, play tug of war with the master. I love working with animals and I am not a fan of giving a treat for doing something.
I also look at dog shows and every time the dog does something, the handler reaches into a pocket and gives the dog a treat. Close observation of the dog will show that the dog is in expectation of some type of treat. Again, why? Now, take a look at the TV program called “Border Wars” and watch that dog work. The animal does tasks and only gets a lot of loving or chase a ball or play tug of war. No treats and the dog acts very happy.
Therefore, a person can spend a lot of money buying and giving dogie treats and, maybe, have a happy obedient dog or not. Then, again, save money by giving a lot of love and praise mixed with corrective punishment for the same happy results. The course of action is up to you.