Frequency of Treat Giving
The first thing to consider is that you should not be giving treats more than just once or twice a day. The treats that you are giving are intended to be a ‘treat’. If you are giving them regularly, they are more of a regular business and your dog will not act as if they are receiving a treat. They will feel entitled to the food and will come to expect it.
Make sure that when you are giving the treat that you are doing so in between meal times. By waiting at least one hour after a meal time or one hour before a meal time, you will have a greater chance of reinforcing the idea that you are giving a treat rather than giving something that is a part of the regular diet for your dog.
Engaging Your Dog with the Treat
It is important to remember that a treat should always be given as a reward for good behavior. It should never be expected that the treat will be given as a regular habit. If your dog has done something good, announce that you are giving a treat. However, your dog will need to continue to act good in order to receive the treat.
When you are giving a treat, hold the treat above your dog’s head and move slowly towards your dog to give the treat. Do not put the treat under the nose of your dog. Your dog will snatch up the treat and feel superior to you as a response. Rather, you should hold the dog above your dog’s head and move it towards the back of the shoulders so your dog will follow with the head and sit down. Bring the treat to your dog’s raised head and calmly say “sit” as your dog sits. You can then allow your dog to enjoy the treat.
If at any time, your dog tries to jump or snap at the treat, immediately pull the treat away and start over. The idea is to reinforce the idea that you are in control of the giving of the treat and that you will determine when your dog will receive the treat. By doing so, you will be able to maintain your position as the leader and command the respect of your dog. By going through this, you will also be forced to remind yourself that giving a treat is not a casual occurrence, but must be given some forethought. This will help to make sure that treat time will still be a special time.