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How to phase out treats?

The easiest way to start training your puppy is by using treats. If not phased out correctly, however, you might become dependent on treats whenever you ask something from your dog.

So how to phase out treats in dog training?

Keep using treats when teaching something new

It is important to keep using treats when teaching your dog new behaviours or commands. This will increase the rate at which they learn stuff. The more valuable the reward is, the more reason they have to increase the behaviour.

Use your voice as a reward

Before giving thre treat to your dog, give him verbal feedback to acknowledge what he has done. If this is followed by a treat, he'll link the word to the reward. By doing this a hugh amount of times, your voice will release endorphins in the brain of your dog and thus become a reward itself.

Reward with play

For some dogs, toys might also be a great reward. Just like treats, these should be phased out in order to not be dependend on them. The one thing to keep in mind when training a dog and rewarding him with play sessions, is that it'll be harder to keep him from getting overly excited. Though this isn't necessarily a problem, some dogs might have a harder time focussing when the excitement gets too much.

Phasing out

The concept of phasing out consists of keeping your dog guessing whether or not there will be a treat given after they performed the behaviour. Once your dog has gotten to know a command well, you can start by not giving him the treat one out of ten times. 9 times he gets the treat, the last time he only gets the voice reward. Make the treat reward less and less frequent, but do still reward him every now and then.

Teach to work for an empty hand

Another way to teach your dog to work for you without seeing a treat, is to teach him to work for an empty hand. You can do this by showing him your empty hand and asking him to do something. If he acts as you want to, reward him from your other hand. This way, he learns that though he doesn't see a reward, it doesn't mean he isn't going to get none.

Be sure to take your time when training and phasing out treats. Do not rush it and don't be discouraged if you need to take a step back.

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