Dogs | Health & Nutrition | November 9, 2015

The 5 W’s of Treating Your Dog

Val Culpin
By: Val Culpin
Dog being given a SPIKE treat

The dictionary definition of Treat is: “something pleasant that is unexpected or that is offered as a surprise or a reward.”   Everyone loves a treat now and again and our pets are no exception. However, when it comes to our furry friends, we sometimes overdo the treats which can cause problems with his or her waistline.

Here are five simple guidelines for treating your pet:

WHO

Well, you for the most part, or members of your family. But treats are also a wonderful way to help socialize a new puppy or an older dog who needs to build confidence when dealing with the human race. When you take your pup out to experience the great big world, take a pocketful of treats along with you. When you encounter a friendly stranger and your dog is not too sure about approaching them in a relaxed and friendly manner, give the stranger a few treats to offer your dog as a way of breaking the ice. Also, when your pup has exhibited a positive behaviour in dealing with strange people or dogs, a quick and enthusiastic ‘Good dog!!’ followed quickly by a treat will reinforce his good behaviour.

WHAT

Treats come in endless forms. Whichever type you choose, make sure it is healthy and natural and that your pet really LOVES it. Whether it is fresh vegetables your pet goes crazy for, a little boiled chicken, or one of the hundreds of ready-made treats and biscuits available these days, treats should be special and tasty and most importantly, given in moderation. They should make up no more than 10% of your pet’s daily caloric intake, and meal sizes should be adjusted to account for the extra calories treats add.

Not every pet is food motivated, so the ‘treat’ of choice can also be a toy, a game of tug, a simple pat on the head, or verbal praise.

WHERE

Anywhere! Especially when training or socializing, always have a pocket or pouch full of treats with you. It’s a great way to keep your pet’s attention focused on you and pretty soon you’ll be able to go anywhere and your dog’s attention will be glued to you and only you, no matter what else is going on.

WHEN

Treats should be a reward for good behaviour or a new trick learned, as a positive reinforcement while teaching your pet good manners, or while training for a desired behaviour. Timing is important. Treat as soon as the wanted behaviour is presented, otherwise you may confuse your dog as to why he is being rewarded. Want to train your dog to pick up after himself and put all his toys back in his toy box? Treats used properly can accomplish that. It just takes time and patience.

WHY

Because you love your pet and treating him or her will only enhance the wonderful bond you have!

Check out our Health Bytes video below for more information about treats and treating!