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  • Writer's pictureViatoris Dog Training

Treat, Toy or Praise?

One of the most frequently asked questions I get with all my clients is how to reward their dog. There are three main ways to reward: treats, toys or praise. The most important thing to remember is that they are all forms of positive reinforcement and as such, important during the dog training process. Timing

Timing is one thing that owners typically overlook when rewarding their dogs. According to dog psychology specialists, you have 1.3 seconds to praise, (or correct). So, if you don't have a treat or toy, remember to give verbal or physical praise to let your dog know they are doing the desired behavior.


Consistency is also important. While training, be realistic with yourself. Are you always going to have a toy or treat? Most likely not. Be aware of this while training. It is okay to use treats and toys during training but remember to add verbal or physical praise so the dog understands what it means and still feels rewarded as you phase out treats and toys or if they are not available.


Rewarding your dog is their payday, no one likes to work for free, right? So when rewarding, make sure you are giving your dog something they like to have it more enjoyable and rewarding.

Things to Remember

When rewarding, there are a few other aspects that you need to consider.


Treats should be small, soft and easy to chew so they can eat them fast so you can continue to work on training and what is going on in the moment. Nothing is worse than trying to work on training and the dog is taking forever to chew on their treat, you lose focus and momentum.

Some people like to use their dog's food in training. This is fine but depending on what you are training, you might need a higher reward. Some examples of higher rewards are peanut butter, hot dogs, Biljac or steak. Find out which best fits your dog and the situation!


First and foremost, make sure the toy is safe for your dog to use. You don't want to have to perform CPR on your dog because they choked on a ball or a part off of a toy. Some stores will have a puppy section for their toys and treats.

Toys can be a great reward for dogs that have drive. They can make the dog pay attention or get very distracted. If you know the dog is easily distracted, it might benefit you not to use this method of positive reinforcement. It will come in handy to teach a dog to give you the toy that way you can continue training.

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