Kibble vs treats for training
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Thread: Kibble vs treats for training

  1. #1
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    Kibble vs treats for training

    Just got a new Goldendoodle a week ago. I'm sure I'm going to have a ton of questions and appreciate everybody's help.

    My puppy loves any and all food. Lots of articles and videos mention to choose something special for training but if he is completely obsessed with his food should I just continue to use his kibble for training? Is he likely to learn better if it the treat is even more special or is the treat mainly to be something that gets his attention and something he loves? Thanks!

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    Senior Member Shell's Avatar
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    For dogs that love food, kibble makes a great training treat because it is small, dry, healthy and balanced in nutrients. You can also try getting sample bags of smellier foods like fish formulas to use as treats.

    By not having something too interesting smelling, it can help the dog not be too distracted to actually listen to you.

    I do like to use extra high value treats for the most important safety related training like Come When Called or Leave It.

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    Senior Member oldNgray's Avatar
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    Re: Kibble vs treats for training

    I started training my pup using kibble. It worked out great for distraction-free training at home the first couple of months. Instead of feeding her from a bowl, I would hand feed her four times a day, doing a little bit of "sit" and "down" training at each meal. I also used kibble as potty rewards and to lure her back into the house or into her playpen.

    When we started puppy class where we needed to get the dogs to quietly focus on us before each round of puppy free play. Kibble was not enough to hold her attention and sometimes even the Roasters treats were not enough. The trainer suggested we use tiny slivers of hot dog. He was right. Hot dog works great in the classroom where there is a lot of distraction.

    Unfortunately, once I started feeding my pup something other than kibble, she would sometimes not be as inclined to comply unless there was a chance that she might get something a little more tasty. So now, at 16-weeks, I will sometimes still hand-feed her a meal. But she generally gets her kibble served up in a Kong. For training rewards at home, I use a mix of the Roasters (which I cut down into three or four small pieces) and freeze-dried liver treats (also cut into smaller bits). The freeze-dried liver is costly when compared pound for pound, but I've found that it is actually more cost effective overall, especially since I get it in a big $25 tub.

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    Re: Kibble vs treats for training

    Thanks for the feedback. So a week in and the kibble is definitely losing its effectiveness as a treat. He still loves it for meal time and will respond to it for a treat but it isn't the drop everything attention that it was. I'm going to start using some other treats to make sure it is something special.

    Would you recommend different treats for different purposes? He loves these soft bites (lamb and salmon) which I use for his crate. Should I use something else for potty outside (he likes Milk-Bone puppy cookies) or am I overthinking it?

    Thanks!

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    Re: Kibble vs treats for training

    For training with food I use something a lot more interesting than kibble. For the first year my dog does not eat out of a bowl either... all food comes from ME and the dog has to do things for the food (even kibble) at home. So the effect is two fold.. the dog realizes all good stuff comes from me and that no meal is guaranteed because I am the holder of the food. This also helps the relationship with the dog.

    When out away from home, I have to use something better than kibble for training. String cheese, roast beef, Fresh Pet (Registered trademark) bits work really well (I get the small dog ones and put them in containers and freeze them.. it is a food that has to be refrigerated.. and then I use it frozen as treats).

    As the dog gets older and learns, I will also use a ball or toy (if the dog has drive for such things) as the reward but this is way past the point you are in training. With a dog with drive food is used to teach what you want and how to do it. Toys add speed and power (drive) to do the behavior.

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    Senior Member gingerkid's Avatar
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    Re: Kibble vs treats for training

    Quote Originally Posted by ks-man View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. So a week in and the kibble is definitely losing its effectiveness as a treat. He still loves it for meal time and will respond to it for a treat but it isn't the drop everything attention that it was. I'm going to start using some other treats to make sure it is something special.

    Would you recommend different treats for different purposes? He loves these soft bites (lamb and salmon) which I use for his crate. Should I use something else for potty outside (he likes Milk-Bone puppy cookies) or am I overthinking it?

    Thanks!
    You can absolutely use different treats for different purposes, but rather than using unique types of treats for specific activities, I like to use specific values of treats based on the importance of the behaviour and/or how much physical, emotional, or mental effort it takes on the dog's part. A behaviour that is really easy and quick for the dog to do ("cheap") like a nose touch, I use low-value treats like kibble. A behaviour that is really difficult ("expensive") for the dog, like a really foodie dog learning to leave it or a complicated agility sequence get a much higher value of reward because those tasks take a lot more effort.

    Same for something like crate or potty training - they are very important behaviours that I want my dog to learn as fast and as solidly as possible because they will be with the dog for the rest of their life. They're really important behaviours, so I use really good rewards. It doesn't always have to be food though, it can be anything that the dog will work for, including play, off-leash time (in the yard, for young puppies),
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