by Samantha Quackenbush, Good Dog! Lead Trainer
Have you ever wondered why your dogs favorite treats don't always do the trick in high stress situations? Something to keep in mind throughout your training process is the level of value your treats hold.
Think about it in terms of money. You might be willing to do one easy task for $5, but then you are asked to do something significantly harder for the same amount of money... You probably are going to say no. But if the pay were to increase to match the job, you would be more willing to complete the task. Think of your dogs treats as money. Kibble holds the lowest value, because they get it on a regular basis. Kibble is a level 1 treat and equates to $1.Cheerios are a step above kibble at a level 2, especially if you get the honey coated ones. Think of Cheerios as $1.50.Many dogs love to eat fruits and veggies, which are a level 3. Cut apples (seedless), carrots and frozen green beans make excellent treats, especially if you keep it an occasional treat. I would say for most dogs fruits and veggies are worth about $1.75. A level 4 treat is a soft dog training treat, worth about $2.A level 5 could be a natural hotdog, even better if it has cheese! Worth about $5!And finally a level 6 treat is going to be a tender fatty piece of meat. Think a perfectly cooked brisket. Depending on the size of the piece, this treat could range in value from $10-20!There are a few more things to keep in mind when choosing treats for your dog: Just like us, not every dog has the same taste. One dogs level 5 may be a cheesy hotdog, while another's could be a baby carrot. You just never know until you try them all in stressful situations. Experiment with your dog in varying levels of distractions. A level 4 treat may work great in most situations, but when the stress and distraction level increases, so should the value of the treat. Make sure to carry around a variety of treats. You never know what situations you may encounter, so it's always best to be prepared with several levels of treats. Plus, if you are mostly giving low level treats (1-3) it's great to surprise them with a higher level treat to keep them guessing what they are getting next!