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Not all food rewards are equal!

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

When we are using food rewards during training, some rewards are worth more than others! For example, on the graph below, my dog’s lowest value food is dried treats and her highest value is slices of pate.

When I am teaching a dog something that is more difficult to learn or completely new to them, I will always start by using higher value treats first to keep them motivated. Giving rewards when a dog does something right increases the likelihood of them repeating the behaviour, but we also need to make sure the dog gets paid for their efforts. If we are asking a dog to do something difficult and they only get a low value treat, the effort of doing the behaviour may not be worth the reward!

You may also want to think about the texture of the food you are using during training, will the amount of time it takes your dog to eat a hard treat affect anything? For example, if using hard treats during training, your dog may stop for a few seconds to crunch up their reward but sometimes they need to keep moving, so using soft treats that can be eaten quickly helps.

Some dogs may get too excited when high value treats are used and are not able to focus on what they are learning; knowing the value of food rewards means we can easily switch to something of lower value, that the dog is motivated to work for but without losing focus.

Make a list of all the foods your dog likes and number them 1-10, with 1 being their lowest preference and 10 being their highest. Comment below and share your dogs lowest and highest value food rewards!


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