While just about every dog loves to learn, training treats give them that extra bit of motivation. Whether you are working on basic obedience training or something more advanced, understanding the difference between high value and low value training treats can make all the difference when it comes to your dog’s success.
What are Training Treats?
Let’s begin with a quick look at training treats in general…
These are treats that can be used to help train a dog, meaning that they need to be quick and easy for a dog to eat.
They also need to be easily portable for owners to carry around. As a bonus, they should be relatively tidy, especially if they are going to be placed into a pocket.
Ideally, a good training treat should also be one that the owner physically delivers to the dog, rather than dropping or crumbling it onto the floor.
Because this will only end up distracting your dog and will prevent him from fully focusing on you.
What’s the Difference Between High Value and Low Value Training Treats?
Place a piece of meat in one hand, and a slice of carrot in the other. Hold both hands out to your dog, and see which one your pooch picks.
Chances are, he’s gone for the meat, meaning that the meat would be the high value treat.
In a nutshell, that’s the difference between high value and low value training treats.
High value treats are treats that your dog absolutely loves, and will pretty much do anything to get. They should be treats that your dog doesn’t get on a regular basis, so that they are exciting each time.
On the other hand, low value treats are treats that your dog is used to. While your dog will still work for them, his motivation will be less and he may lose interest over time.
Of course, every dog is different, and will have different tastes. What may be a high value treat for one dog could be a very low value treat for another.
Understanding When to Use Each Type of Training Treat
After reading the differences between high value and low value training treats, you are probably thinking…
If high value treats will motivate my dog more, then why would I want to use low value treats at all?
Well, if you are only giving high value treats to your dog, then it won’t be long before these become low value. Plus, you don’t need to be giving your dog an extra-special treat each time. Using these to mark significant learning moments will be much more rewarding when it comes to teaching new things.
So, when should you use each one?
When you are first beginning to shape a certain behavior, stick to high value treats only. After your dog has begun to get the hang of it, you can then switch to a mix of high and low value training treats. This means that your dog will never be quite sure as to what treat he will get next, giving him plenty of motivation to keep trying.
Examples of High Value and Low Value Training Treats
As mentioned earlier, training treats need to be quickly and easily eaten, as well as easily portable. These requirements can sometimes make it difficult to find a wide selection of both high and low value training treats.
Mixing things up and keeping your dog guessing is always a good idea when it comes to training treats. Here are some treat ideas to incorporate into your training routine:
High Value Training Treats
High value training treats could include:
Sausages or Hot Dogs – make sure that you choose ones free of nitrates/ nitrites, as well as low in sodium. Cut a sausage up into multiple pieces to make it go further
Freeze Dried Meat – this is something that just about every dog loves. You can find them in both training treat sizes as well as larger pieces that you can cut up yourself
Cheese – mix a few small chunks of different cheeses into your dog’s training treats. You don’t need to use much as the smell from the cheese will rub off onto the other treats. This will give even the low value treats a cheesier appeal. Alternatively, opt for cheese in a tube, giving your dog a small lick as a reward
Dehydrated Meat – this can easily be done yourself at home by placing thin slices of meat into the oven or a dehydrator for a few hours, until they are brittle enough to be easily snapped into small training-sized pieces. You can do this with just about any cut of meat
Liver Cake – this may not sound very appetizing to you, but it is something that your dog will definitely work so hard for
Low Value Training Treats
Low value training treats could include:
Dried Dog Food – if you can find these in small sample bags, then you can mix and match different brands and flavors to keep things more interesting
Fruit and Vegetable Chunks or Slices – if you find yourself having to use a lot of treats, healthy raw bites of a fruit or vegetable could be a good low-calorie option
Dog Biscuits – many people use dog biscuits as a daily snack for their dog. While your dog will still enjoy these as a training treat, they would be considered low value since your dog is used to eating them
There are many training treats available at pet stores too.
How do you know if these are high or low value?
This is completely up to your dog. If you are doing a lot of training, it could be worth purchasing a selection of different treats to see how much your dog actually likes each one.
Understanding how to mix and match different high value and low value training treats is crucial when it comes to succeeding in training your dog. No matter what type of skill you are trying to teach your pooch, the reward that you provide your dog for learning new behaviors will help to speed up the rate at which he learns, while also keeping his enthusiasm at an all-time high.