Are you ready to walk your dog? Let’s make sure you have everything you need.
Leash? Check. Collar? Check. Poop bags? Check. But what about treats?
When you bring treats on walks, you’ll see big changes in your dog’s manners when you’re out. Training issues become much easier to deal with, and you’ll find new ways to keep walks fun and stress-free.
Here are 8 great reasons to bring treats on walks:
1. You can work on reactivity.
Does your dog go nuts when they see another dog or human on walks? Is it difficult to get them to calm down? They may be reactive, meaning they experience an unusual amount of stress when exposed to triggers, and may have trouble with everyday experiences like walks. Keeping treats on-hand will make it easier to return their focus to you. Treats can build a positive association with triggers and even help reduce the release of stress chemicals like cortisol in your dog’s brain, helping them feel calmer.
2. You’ll always be ready to reward unexpected good behaviour.
Did your dog see a squirrel, then decide to stay close to you, rather than flying off the handle as they normally would? Or are they just walking more politely than usual? Rewarding those good moments will ensure that your dog has more of them, and when you bring treats on walks, you’ll start to notice more and more reasons to reward your dog
3. You can work on teaching “leave it” when they’re tempted by trash.
The best way to train your dog is through real-world experiences. Maybe today you’ll come across a dangerous, discarded fried chicken bone. Keep your dog at just a bit more than leash distance for their safety, then encourage them to leave it. When they do, even if it takes a moment to regain their attention, reward them with a treat. In no time, they’ll realize that ignoring trash is an easy way to get extra rewards from you.
4. It will be easier to recall your loose dog when you bring treats on walks.
Does your dog ever slip their collar or squeeze out of their harness? Or does the leash ever slip from your fingertips? Having treats means your dog will be more likely to come back when called instead of running into the road, even if you’re still working on recall training.
5. You can teach a “go potty” cue.
Does your dog take forever to do their business? Teaching a “go potty” cue can speed up walks when you’re in a rush, and it can be helpful if you’d rather your dog pee in your yard, rather than on your grumpy neighbour’s lawn. It’s pretty simple to teach if you always bring treats on walks; just wait until your dog is about to squat or hike their leg and say the cue of your choice, such as “go potty”, or “find a spot”. Then give them a treat immediately after they’re done. After a few repetitions, you’ll be able to use that cue to encourage them to go.
6. You can foster positive interactions with strangers on walks.
While not every dog needs to enjoy greeting every adult or child they meet on walks, you can use treats to help your dog get over “stranger danger” fears. It’s important to understand, though, that making a highly fearful dog accept treats from strangers’ hands will not automatically alleviate their fears. Treats should not be used to coerce a dog to approach more closely than they feel comfortable. Instead, give them a treat when you pass by someone new. If your dog doesn’t mind approaching, you can ask the stranger to toss the treat for your dog to pick up from the ground. Only have your dog take a treat from their hand if your dog approaches them willingly.
7. You can work on leash manners each day.
Loose leash walking will come naturally when you always have treats in your pocket. Take relaxed, mindful walks to give your dog plenty of opportunities to sniff and decompress, while occasionally having them check in and refocus, especially if they tend to get worked up over other animals or people.
8. You can play training games along the way.
When you bring treats on walks, you’ll discover how easy it is to find fun, exciting new ways to reward your dog. Try playing red light, green light to reinforce leash manners, or use a long lead to practice recall in an open space. Try teaching your dog to turn left and right on cue, or how to walk backwards with you.
What If My Dog Won’t Take Treats On Walks?
If your dog is overstimulated by the environment, other people, or animals, they may not be able to take treats, even if you wave them under their nose. This is especially true if you have a reactive dog.
You may need to wait until your dog is calm to give treats, even if that’s not until when you’re already on your way back home. Over time, your dog will start to become more receptive to treats.
More Great Training Ideas From Healthy Houndz!
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