Does your dog love treats? Grooming your dog at home may be much easier if you use dog treats. That is called positive reinforcement.
When your dog cooperates or is well behaved during the grooming process, you can use treats to reward its behavior. Think of the treats as a paycheck instead of a bribe. If the dog has behaved, it deserves to be rewarded.
Treats help make the process more fun for Fido. In this post, we explore the use of treats to make the grooming process at home manageable and even fun.
How to Use Treats While Grooming Your Dog at Home
- Use the treats to lure the dog
When your dog is reluctant to get into the grooming process, you can use treats to lure it to you. Some dogs hide or run off when it is time to take a bath. So, get Fido to come to you by using treats to attract them.
- Use treats to make them obey
Different activities take place during grooming from bathing the dog to trimming its hair and nails. Some of the equipment used can be scary for the dog, especially tools that produce a sound. That may make the dog reluctant to obey commands that they normally don’t have a problem with like sit and stay.
Using treats, you can get the dog to sit or stay. Hold the treat close to your companion’s nose, and then move it further up the head of the dog. Your dog is going to move its head back to try and catch the treat, and in the process, Fido will have to sit on its haunches as the head moves further back. As their noses up, their bottom goes down, allowing you to get a better angle for grooming.
- Work with small treats
A whole meal could be a major treat for your dog. But during grooming, you want to make the treats small to keep the dog interested. Also, do not give the dog a handful of treats when you reward them. Small treats offer a nibble that the dog looks forward to. Too many treats may make the dog full, which will interfere with the comfort of the animal during grooming.
Instead of giving too many treats, consider making the small treats you give tastier. Liver, chicken, beef jerky, and hot dogs are options you can work with. Kibble can also work as a treat if special treats are not available.
4. Don’t overdo it
Let your dog earn the treat. That makes the difference between it being a paycheck or a bribe. When you give the treats to induce good behavior, that is a bribe. But when you give the treat as a reward, it becomes a paycheck.
Bribing a dog will make the grooming process harder because the dog expects a treat to be cooperative. The dog soon becomes unable to associate the action and the reward. Over-praising your dog also has a similar effect.
5. Reduce the treats with time
As your dog adapts to the grooming process, you should start to reduce the treats. Instead of giving a treat for every step of the grooming process, begin giving one treat at the end of the grooming. That signals the dog that they should behave appropriately during grooming without expecting a treat.
To move away from treats, begin replacing them with praise and petting. The good news is that petting and praising strengthen the bond between you and your companion more than treats could.
6. Use proper dog treats
Avoid using scraps of human food as your dog treats. Some of these foods are chewy and sweet and stick in between their teeth. As a result, your dog’s teeth have plaque buildup increasing their chances of periodontal disease.
Also, human food scraps can cause the dog to become fat and they also lack nutritional value for the dog. Dental chews are a better option because they promote the oral hygiene of the dog.
7. Choose high and low-value treats
You can mix the treats so that your dog has a variety. For example, mix some dry kibble with dental chews to give the dog an interesting mix of treats. The dog will not get quickly bored with the treat system.
Or you can alternate between store-bought treats and homemade treats. The store-bought ones are convenient because they require no preparation and they also have a longer shelf-life. But surprising your dog with some pieces of ham and hot dog or pieces of vegetable and fruit would be better. Avoid salt, herbs, and spices when making homemade treats and also take into consideration the dietary needs of the dog.
The Don’ts of Treats when Grooming
- Only give the treats to your dog when it is calm and relaxed. Do not offer the treat to an excited dog because you will be reinforcing the wrong behavior. Wait until your dog is lying down or sitting or waiting patiently before you give them the treat.
- Also, do not offer a treat to the dog while using a sharp object. A good pair of nail clippers like those found in this guide to beginners’ dog nail clippers, will come with a guard to protect the dog’s quick. But when you give the dog a treat while cutting its nails, it may react excitedly to the treat and jerk its paw risking a deeper cut that could hurt them.
- Check the calories in the treats you give your dog during grooming to ensure they are healthy and don’t foster weight gain. That requires you to be mindful when giving treats to your dog instead of making it a reflex action. Dogs with high metabolism like Great Danes can eat a lot of treats and higher calories. But it is still not a healthy practice.
You can use food and treats to engage your dog during grooming. You just need to be careful not to overdo it and to choose healthier treats.
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Many Purrs and Barks,