Help! My dog gets too excited around treats!
Are you up for using treats, but having problems because your dog loses his mind as soon as the treats appear? This does happen sometimes, but it’s actually not a bad thing. It means the dog is jazzed to work for the salary you are offering – but maybe the salary is just a smidge too high. So how can you help your dog calm down and think while still using treats for training?
Choose lower value treats
If your dog gets super-excited as soon as you pull out a treat, try using more boring (a.k.a. “lower value”) treats. You can try vegetables, for example, or your dog’s regular dog food. Test a few different options until you find one that gets your dog interested but doesn’t make him frantic. And keep in mind that reinforcement is in the eye of the beholder – my dog Franklin was super-excited about vegetables, as it happens.
Pay in smaller bills
While you are at it, cut your treats up really small. There are two reasons to do this. One is that it means less calories per treat, which is always a good thing since we want to watch our pet’s weight. The other is that it makes the treats a bit less exciting. Think of it as paying in one-dollar bills, rather than hundred-dollar bills.
Find the right treats for the right situation
As mentioned above, if your dog gets too excited about the treats you are using, you can use less exciting treats. But don’t throw those super-exciting treats out! Use the exciting treats for walks, or when visitors arrive, or any other time you need something extra-awesome to keep your dog’s attention.
Treats are a great tool. Use them wisely and you and your dog will both have fun and learn a lot!
- Irith Bloom is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant who specializes in teaching dogs how to make better choices. She helps clients worldwide live the good life with their pets.