Stop Saying “Treat” Training Doesn’t Work

Yesterday, I was asked by an experienced dog person (a former breeder) if I am one of those “treat, treat, treat” trainers.

Of course, this started a discussion on training methods. I am always astounded at people’s beliefs in all the myths about dogs there are and what people are taking as truth without really thinking it through. This occurs even among people who know a lot about dogs and have been involved with them for years.

Why I Use “Treat” (Food Rewards) To Train

My explanation of WHY I use treats was this: Besides the fact that corrections hurt or frighten the dog, I cannot guarantee that a person I have taught to train her dog using aversive methods is not going to get upset and punish the dog unnecessarily. I cannot prevent the use of corrections in anger. Since I am a cross-over training instructor and dog trainer, I have used and taught these methods in the past, BUT NO LONGER.

finnrallyIf you think logically, using corrections to train makes it easier to punish the dog by hurting him . However, by using and food rewards, I can achieve the EXACT SAME RESULT without bringing corrections into the training. Therefore, I eliminate anger in my training and end up building a great relationship with my dog.

The other logical part of this is that even though you CAN achieve the same results with food rewards as with corrections, many people still don’t think you can do this.

THE REASON FOR THIS IS that  a person simply does not want to train with food.

If you don’t want to train with food, then you won’t achieve the results. 

If you want to train with food rewards you WILL and can do just as well as someone using correction method. I can use my own achievement record as an example, which is part of the reason I go into dog sport trials, besides it being fun – to show that it CAN be done – and it CAN.

My dogs and I have shown that one can train for the sports of obedience, rally-o, trick training and canine dog exclusively with correction free training and still win. The point is not just to win obviously, but to show that it can be done. We also train in sledding and stockdog without corrections and have not been in any trials or competitions, but enjoy it a great deal.

I have also had success putting correction free dog sport titles on rescued dogs with behaviour issues.  I find that dogs with fear issues are very responsive to food reward training.

The whole thing is simply a matter of desire.

Each person has the right to make a CHOICE in how she/he trains a dog. If you want to train with corrections then do so. But PLEASE STOP SAYING THAT TRAINING WITH FOOD REWARDS DOESN’T WORK BECAUSE YOU ARE WRONG.

If it doesn’t work it is simply your choice to not have it work. Both methods work – IF YOU WANT THEM TO WORK.


People use to say that no one would get to the moon. But it happened nevertheless. The same goes for dog training.




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