Treats! Treats treats treats!
Believe it or not the size of the treat matters.
The treats in my hand are the same exact treats. I just took the time to cut one up into smaller pieces. Here’s why:
The treat in its original size is great for a large dog like CJ (85lbs German Shepherd). The cut up treats are great for a smaller dog OR when I work on a skill CJ already knows.
If you are using really large treats your dog is going to become fuller quicker thus making him not as motivated by the use of food in your training sessions. Smaller treats allow you to do more work for less payment.
Here’s the kicker though, your dog still needs to feel like they are getting rewarded. The smaller pieces work great for small dogs because that is a lot to them. For CJ he would probably think I’m playing a mean joke on him if I only ever used super tiny pieces.
You need to play around and find out what works best for your dog. Maybe your smaller dog needs bigger pieces. Maybe your larger dog needs smaller pieces. Each dog is different. But you can get more out of the treats you buy if you cut them in half. Don’t tell your dogs I said that.
The other thing to keep in mind when we are working with our dogs is they can’t be starving. Just like we don’t want them to be too full to work, a really hungry dog isn’t going to want to work. It may seem like your really hungry dog is eager to work because he is snatching the treats out of your hand but we want our dogs to be somewhat calm when working not trying to chew our fingers off. If you are working around breakfast or dinner time feed them about half of their meal and use the other half to train with or supplement with treats.
One last thing, there is a hierarchy of treats. This is not always the same for all dogs but the experts who have worked with thousands and thousands of dogs have put the order together based on what they have seen. The order of treats by importance based on texture is squeeze, chewy, crunchy. Squeeze treats are things like peanut butter or something your dog has to lick. Chewy treats are like what is shown in the picture. They have a smooth texture and can stick to your dogs teeth as they chew them. The last on the list is your crunchy treats. These you can hear your dog chew on. They are crumbling and tend to take a bit more time to chew up. Please keep in mind that this may be what the experts say is the order of importance for dogs with treats but ultimately you are the expert on your dog so use whatever your dog finds most valuable.