Training with treats or without?
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Thread: Training with treats or without?

  1. #1
    RichJ is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Central New Jersey

    DefaultTraining with treats or without?

    I'll be getting a new puppy in a few weeks and am starting to think about how I'll train the dog.
    With my first lab, I used treats, which worked pretty well. Early on there'd be a treat and praise for almost every good job, then later a mix of treats or praise, then moving to almost all praise. It worked pretty well, but I'm always reluctant to draw conclusions from a single "experiment". Also, I've read that "real" trainers don't rely on treats.
    Has anyone had success training a lab without using treats? The idea of not having to always have a few treats in every pair of pants sounds nice, but I'm not sure it's realistic. Labs are well know for being food-centric.
    Also, anyone have a good idea of guidelines for when a puppy is ready to start learning commands. I don't want to be forcing the issue if the dog's just not ready physically or mentally.

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  3. #2
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Lawrence (ex-Topeka), KS


    The main bad thing about using treats, IMO, is in overfeeding. This can be avoided by measuring out the proper amount of food for your pup at its age and appetite level and then using some of the food from those meals as your treats.

    However, another similar method which can also be used is the "NILIF" (Nothing in Life is Free) protocol for training at meal times. In this, a few more kibbles at a puppy's regular mealtime are given for each successful execution of a command (sit, down, stay, come, stand, give, etc.).

    Google NILIF dog training and/or what the acronym stands for and you'll get several descriptions.

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  4. #3
    mosmama's Avatar
    mosmama is offline Senior Member
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    Apr 2009


    I agree with Bob on NILIF, because that is how I've always trained...BUT,
    the only thing I don't like about using treats for training is when it's "not" training time and just playing they won't take their eyes off your hands or be smelling your pockets, etc. That is annoying. Most trainers I've talked to are all about 'positive training' which in turn is all about treats!
    May 17, 1998 - May 20, 2009

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  6. #4
    HersheyK's Dad's Avatar
    HersheyK's Dad is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009
    Minnetonka, MN


    Positive training certainly includes treating, but praise and play is also part of it. The idea is the make the dog happy to please you, to be with you. With most, not all, Labs being so food motivated, treats just work so well.
    Hershey Kisses, In charge of getting Ed out to the dog park so that he gets some exercise.

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