What is your dog's currency?
This is a really important question when working with any animal. We must use something that is of high value to the animal, otherwise using something that is medium or low-value will get you mediocre or low-value behaviour and skills. We recommend using whole foods so that you can prevent your dog from having an upset stomach after a training session. Some examples are:
- boiled chicken breast
- ground meats
- a cheap cut of beef (baked or boiled)
- low-fat cheddar cheese cut into tiny pieces
- slicing and dicing a dog food roll (Rollover or Natural Balance)
- Fresh Pet or Vital meatballs for dogs (in the fridge section of many big box pet stores or WalMart)
Again, you'll want these treats to be small soft and stinky. They should be very appealing for your dog as you will need to hold their attention in the high distraction environment. See our blog for ideas on how to prepare these foods and store them. These options that were offered are also the least expensive and healthiest options.
If the treats are crunchy, dense, or hard, your dog will feel that it's too much work and not worth their effort. They will refuse crunchy, dense, or hard treats when faced with a trigger and you will miss the opportunity to train at that moment! Ensure all rewards are soft and easy to swallow in pea-sized pieces.
Play a game with your dog where you prepare 6-8 different types of rewards by chopping them into pea-sized pieces. You'll need about 6-8 pieces of each. Present two different treats at the same time and the treat that your dog takes first is the winner of this round. The winner of each round goes on to face the next treat until you have used them all up. Mark on a piece of paper the contenders and winners of each round so that you can create your own hierarchy for future reference. This will come in handy later!