There’s nothing else on Earth quite like dogs- they’re like furry, four-legged personifications of love! Dog owners know they can count on being greeted at the door by a wagging tail and a wet nose every day- it sure doesn’t get much better than that! The special bond between you and your dog is one of the best parts of your life, and you want to make sure you make their days as happy as they make yours.
Giving special treats to your dog is a great way to show him or her how much you care. Not only that, but treating your dog helps to motivate him or her to learn new tricks and behaviors, and acts as a positive reinforcement when you are working with him or her on training skills, such as leash manners, obedience, and potty training.
By administering frequent treats to your dog, you are helping to solidify your bond and reassure him or her that they are doing a great job at being your companion animal! Instead of punitive training methods, like choke collars, professional dog trainers now almost exclusively rely on a positive, reward-based method to teach dogs and puppies obedience training skills, and you can too! By giving your dog treats when he or she correctly sits, goes potty, or lays down on command, you are making a connection in their brain between good behavior and delicious treats. Dogs aim to please, and are quite motivated by food- who doesn’t love a yummy little reward? A little incentive treat here and there can go a long way toward helping your furry friend become a well-trained, joyful companion for many happy years.
Here are a few fun, outside-the-box ways to give treats to your dog, so that he or she always has a fun surprise to look forward to when you’re spending time together or while you’re away.
Hide and Seek
Dogs are curious, inquisitive animals by nature, and they love to use their hunting instincts, particularly their keen sense of smell, to track down food…in this case, a delicious, well-hidden treat! Many pet stores and online retailers sell “hide-a-treat” toys, which are great for keeping dogs interested and engaged, sometimes for hours! These little puzzles with a sweet reward at the end are perfect for keeping your four-legged pal entertained while you are away from home.
This fun-treating method is perfect for a hot summer day, or anytime you can’t be with your pup for several hours. Freezing treats and then giving them to your dog can not only keep him or her busy and happy for an extended period of time but can also help them to savor their tasty prize, rather than just wolfing it down. Try freezing peanut butter in a hollow dog toy, like a Kong, before giving it to your dog. You’ll be amazed at how long it keeps him or her occupied! As an added bonus, frozen treats are a great way to keep your pup cool in the summer months, as well as an excellent way to keep teething puppies from chewing on shoes, furniture, or other things around the house. They’ll have a blast licking and chewing the toy to thaw it out, and you’ll have peace of mind that they aren’t bored. It’s a win-win!
Now You See It…
Though dogs have a demonstrated ability for object permanence, it isn’t as developed in them as it is in humans. That means that simply by covering an object, like a treat, with a blanket or washcloth, you’re performing a dazzling magic trick that your dog can’t quite figure out right away! Try taking a small treat and putting it in front of your dog, and then quickly covering it up, It’s entertaining to see your dog try to figure out where it went, and fun for them when they make it reappear. Your dog will think you’re more amazing and magical than they already do- and that’s saying something!
Just like an Easter egg hunt, you can place several treats around your home, and then let your dog sniff his or her way to finding them all! This fun and the occupying game is great for helping your dog get in touch with his or her natural instincts while getting them up and moving around. If your dog is something of a couch potato or is aging and slowing down, a treat scavenger hunt is a fun way to get them off the couch or dog bed for a little light exercise. Since multiple treats are involved for this one, try to choose small, healthy treats made from natural ingredients so that your pup doesn’t wind up getting sick from too much overindulgence.
Trick or Treat
Of course, the most classic method of treating your dog is having him or her perform a trick first to get a reward. This is still one of the most fun ways for both of you to enjoy treat time and can do wonders for getting your dog to learn a new skill. Use healthy, beneficial treats- like hemp treats for dogs– to teach your best buddy to sit, shake hands, roll over, or even play dead! Not only does this make for a terrific party trick the next time your dog is meeting new people, but it also helps him or her to associate treats with positive rewards for good behavior- something that can go a long way when you’re training him or her for socialization, potty and leash manners, and other essential dog obedience skills. Learning new tricks stimulates your dog’s brain and keeps him or her engaged and interested, which can lead to a happier, healthier life. Much like in people, a dog who keeps his or her mind active can stay sharp well into the golden years!
The most important thing to keep in mind about giving your dog a treat is that it’s all about love. Your dog loves treats, no doubt about it, but his or her real joy comes from seeing and spending time with their favorite person in the world- YOU! The act of giving your dog a treat will solidify what they already know- that their human loves them! Make sure to take time every day to show your dog how much they mean to you by giving a fun, interesting treat.