When training your puppy, you probably think of using treats. But you may not always have access to them. You may also want to steer clear of treats if you’re trying to help your dog lose weight. Food sensitivities can also push you to look for options besides treats for training. Fortunately, you’ve got a few options when it comes to training without treats.
Lavish Them With Praise
Luckily, praise itself is an excellent motivator for puppies. Your dog takes note when it does something, and your voice sounds happy. A loving pet or hug further teaches your puppy that you want them to repeat this behavior. Many people combine praise with treats when training, so switching isn’t hard.
Tap Into Their Natural Instincts
Not only does your puppy want to please you, but many dogs also find the activity itself to be rewarding. This is especially true when dealing with intelligent dogs or strong prey drives. For example, if you want to train a German Shepherd Dog, you might consider personal protection training or bitework. These are healthy ways for your pup to express its natural strength and energy.
Similarly, some dogs love running, jumping, or agility games. Many breeds have been bred to perform specific tasks for hundreds of years. Look for specialized training that takes advantage of those traits, and you’ll have a happier and more well-behaved dog. An experienced dog trainer like Thomas Sauerhöfer at the German Dog Training Center in Sacramento can work with dogs and owners to determine which training is the best fit.
Keeping these instincts in mind can also help you choose the right breed for your home. If working with a breeder, you might choose parents based on personality traits that you prefer. Or you might avoid breeds if they’re not compatible with your lifestyle. However, training can give you a more peaceful home even if you don’t intend to show or compete with your dog.
Reward Them with a Favorite Toy
You can also replace food with something else that your puppy desires. A favorite toy, for example, works well. Of course, your puppy might become distracted if you offer the toy after following only one command. But finishing a training session by handing over that beloved Kong can successfully motivate your dog. Actively playing with your puppy is another reward that strengthens the bond between pup and owner.
Use “Life” Rewards
Some trainers suggest using “life rewards.” These rewards are activities that your pup already enjoys: a walk in the park, splashing in the sprinkler, or free reign of the backyard. Because these are elements of every dog’s life, they’re easy enough to add as behavioral “treats” when training.