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"free" Treats? Or Always "earned"


Guest k9soul
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Guest k9soul

Sometimes, I just give "free" treats to my dogs. When I was visiting my parents' and I handed out a few treats to my dogs, their dog Jack came up and I gave him one too. My stepfather said "He doesn't just get handed treats, he has to EARN them." I really don't think anything is wrong with that, but I'm wondering what people feel about "freebies" at times. I sometimes have my dogs do something first, and sometimes I just give them something. Usually higher value treats are used as rewards for my dogs.

The thing is, I don't think Jack IS always earning treats. While I wasn't going to go question his philosophy, sometimes all my stepfather does is pick up a treat and Jack automatically sits without being told, and then he's given a treat. My stepfather seems impressed that Jack anticipated what he wanted, but to me Jack has the conditioned response of sitting = treat. In my mind, "earning" a reward is doing something on command or simply NOT doing an undesirable behavior and being rewarded for that. When Jack simply sits without being told and gets a treat, Jack is the one training the person isn't he? ;)

Anyway though, what do others think? Are "free treats" spoiling? Do you think it's best they perform a behavior every time before receiving one, or are you more random about it. Just like I don't reward every single time they perform a sit (once they know the behavior), I don't always ask for a behavior before giving a tidbit either. I don't really consider this a right or wrong question, but I'm curious what others think.

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My treat philosophy sounds pretty much like yours. When I'm preparing Sweep's Kong every evening, for example, I'll give her a little taste of whatever I'm stuffing it with, and I don't expect her to do anything to earn that. She also gets her daily dental treat and her bedtime treat "free of charge." Like Jack, though, she has definitely mastered the whole "if I sit I'll get something!" mindset. (And it's so cute it usually works, so yeah, the dog has trained the humans here too.) I figure as long as they're not behaving badly by shoving their faces in your plate, barking, or otherwise being demanding about it, there's no harm in occasional freebies.

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If I had to perform to get a treat... oh vey! FREE !! why the heck not spoil them?? They love me unconditionally and I love them back. A dorito for me and a dog treat for them... :) !! If going out or coming in for a treat is doing something, I wonder who is the trained one there ???.....

 

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No dog in this house has ever had to earn anything. And that's the way we like it. :)

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There isn't anything wrong with giving "freebies" in my opinion as long as you never give a treat at a time that rewards bad behaviour (e.g. whining, getting in your face, jumping up to get the treat, etc.). Technically, if a dog is behaving politely when you give them a treat, they are "earning" it. :) Of course, I also use treats a lot with training, and I know some dogs (e.g. working dogs) earn their food throughout the day and are perfectly happy as well. To each his own I guess....

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Guest k9soul

It sounds like a lot of others sort of do the same as I do. I have "snack" type treats that generally they just get for free as long as they aren't doing a negative behavior of course. If I do want to train or work on a behavior, I use much higher value treats and those they only get when they are doing the behavior I'm looking for.

 

But I have no doubt my dogs have trained me in certain ways, too :lol When I have a yogurt and Rudy runs up after I'm done and looks at me with those pleading eyes.. well I pick up the empty cup and let him lick it :hehe

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I figure as long as they're not behaving badly by shoving their faces in your plate, barking, or otherwise being demanding about it, there's no harm in occasional freebies.

 

Ditto. One of our pack, Bonny, was a bounce. I'm guessing she had to EARN treats in her last home. Six years later, and she will almost always sit and give you her paw when she sees a treat.

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I mix it up. Sometimes free, sometimes they must work for it. I like to have them work for it if they are at Petsmart and our fave cashier is spoiling everyone. But they get a breakfast, dinner and before bed treat free. Sometimes I grab a handful of kibble and run through the house "hiding" pieces just to play.

<p>Mom to Kyle (Diehard Kyle) & Angel Gracie (KB's Sankey) Foster Mom for AFG

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My dogs earn a good majority of their treats. Sometimes I hand out freebies just for general good behaviour. It isn't that I'm always thinking "you have to earn it" but we train a lot so ultimately they are. Which is why I don't worry about the odd freebie. But I also don't really think it's appropriate for a dog to ALWAYS get treats for no reason. All in moderation.

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Some of each :) . We do use treats in training, and we give treats because dogs are cute.

 

All I really care about is that a dog is reasonably easy to live with (or trending in that direction, for those who have issues from time to time). No big requirements in this house. We do some training stuff because the dogs seem to enjoy it.

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Guest Doggone

Autumn is so easy to live with and so darn cooperative, that I don't do any real "training". Her personality alone is enough to "earn" her treats. :)

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There are some dogs, at some times, that should always "earn" a treat by following a direction/training command. But there has to be a reason for it. In my house, I need to occassionally reinforce with Toni that she is not the boss of me (or any human), and she's not even the boss of the other dogs (though the all defer to her because she can be a first class biyotch at times). But a day or two of having to "earn" her treats and food and she's back in order and not snarking at the others every chance she gets.

 

But generally, my dogs get a lot of treats for no other reason than we love them to bits! :D

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I give some treats free and some they earn. My dogs do always have to sit for their meal and wait for a release. Not because they have to earn it, but because I dog sit and sometimes have dogs that don't know the rules. My dogs also always leave the kitchen as soon as they are done eating and this is again to avoid problems when we having visiting dogs. If it is a new dog visiting it is on leash while it is eating until it understands which bowl is theirs and that they are not to go to check out the other dogs bowls. I'd so much rather be safe than sorry. My dogs really don't like to eat in a crate and I don't want to bother taking food bowls to other rooms.

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Guest k9soul

:beatheart Resistance is futile.

 

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Well that would have me trained pretty quickly to hand over a treat :wub:

 

As others have said, it can really depend on the dog, and if you have one with a lot of issues, treating is a good time to reinforce the behaviors you want. But here everyone is USUALLY polite and I'm happy to give freebies mixed up with sometimes asking for something first.

 

I feel like my stepfather doesn't realize that Jack has pretty much learned how to get that treat handed over quickly, but no harm if he thinks he's earning it. Jack (a collie) is a good boy and is already very well mannered.

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Guest shanesmom

Both here too. Sometimes he just gets treats and sometimes I ask him to sit or lay down. I know he enjoys it both ways. He sometimes sits on his own for a treat even though I don't always ask him to.

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Given your recent history with your parents and your own dog, this should not be a surprise to you. They have their opinions about how a dog should behave and be treated. It's obviously not the same as your own. You can either agree to disagree and go on with what you know to be right, or you can make yourself miserable trying to compromise.

 

Times change and research into dog behavior changes how humans train dogs. Some people can change their habits and their thinking and some can't. I doubt you will change your father's, or your mother's, mind in this regard.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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I've never trained with treats before George--but George just wasn't responsive to learning for praise alone, so I got in a TERRIBLE habit, whilst going through the long and painful process of housebreaking him of giving him a half a treat every time he peed outside. Seven years later, he DEMANDS his treats after every leg lift! Sometimes he even fakes it. I'm SOOO weak when it comes to this because we've had such a pee struggle--

 

I also thought it would be smart (hah!) to give him a treat when the train went by on our walks--you know, so he would associate the extremely LOUD noise with a good thing. Now all he has to do is hear it in the distance and he looks at me with that, "Well?" look on his face! Argh!

 

As to Jack sitting, I would consider that earning it. He learned the task well enough that the command isn't needed. My last dog was taught that while at heel, when I stopped walking he was to sit and NOT MOVE when I stopped walking. My goal was for him to do that automatically. And he did. He was never, ever given treats while training, just praise.


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Guest k9soul

Given your recent history with your parents and your own dog, this should not be a surprise to you. They have their opinions about how a dog should behave and be treated. It's obviously not the same as your own. You can either agree to disagree and go on with what you know to be right, or you can make yourself miserable trying to compromise.

 

Times change and research into dog behavior changes how humans train dogs. Some people can change their habits and their thinking and some can't. I doubt you will change your father's, or your mother's, mind in this regard.

 

I wasn't surprised and I had no intention of saying anything about it to my parents. Our differences in dog philosophy have only ever come up when they get onto me for how I treat MY dogs. There is also tension when my stepfather tries to use his methods ON my dogs (my mom doesn't do this). Anyway I've given up long ago on trying to gently explain about positive reinforcement versus punishment and the outdated dominance theory.

 

I also think there is absolutely nothing wrong if he wants Jack to sit every time. It just got me thinking and I wondered what others commonly do. It seems like most do a little of both like myself. I should actually probably have mine do little things more often, as I tend to leniency as long as they are generally polite.

 

As to Jack sitting, I would consider that earning it. He learned the task well enough that the command isn't needed. My last dog was taught that while at heel, when I stopped walking he was to sit and NOT MOVE when I stopped walking. My goal was for him to do that automatically. And he did. He was never, ever given treats while training, just praise.

 

 

Well, you have a point. If what he is wanting is Jack to just automatically sit without command then he's doing what is wanted of him to get the treat.

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There isn't anything wrong with giving "freebies" in my opinion as long as you never give a treat at a time that rewards bad behaviour (e.g. whining, getting in your face, jumping up to get the treat, etc.). Technically, if a dog is behaving politely when you give them a treat, they are "earning" it. :) Of course, I also use treats a lot with training, and I know some dogs (e.g. working dogs) earn their food throughout the day and are perfectly happy as well. To each his own I guess....

 

One situation where I do recommend cutting down on freebies is if the dog is overweight. I find there are many people who give treats 'just because' who then can't resist giving their dog a treat every time the dog begs.

 

I agree that if the dog is behaving politely, they are technically earning their treat. That's the main reason I have my dogs sit before they are given treats, and they all sit automatically, without being asked, for the most part.

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Like others, mine are both. I do enjoy the times when, after dinner, the humans are enjoying some chocolate and thd hounds a dog treat or too. It makes me feel like a family with everyone nomming happily. kind of like waking up in the middle of the night and gearing the breathing, snoring and wuffles of DH and all the dogs asleep. Makes me feel warm and safe.

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A little of both, but, we don't go overboard on freebies. They get more freebies when we're visiting my folks, but, each of them technically will do *something* to "earn" their treat. Mom's boy Sunny knows "take a bow" and "speak" so she will ask for one of those in exchange for his cookie. Ronny is new, but does "speak" so that's what she asks for from him. Clarice does lots of things - sit, down, shake, come, here...so I've asked Mom to pick one of those to ask of her for a cookie. Ozzie doesn't know much, but he does know "here"...and will touch his nose to an outstretched hand even if the cookie is in the opposite hand.

 

Here at home, I'll ask the same of Ozzie and Clarice (I give cookies when I'm leaving for the day), and my little guys get cookies for going to their crates.

 

I guess I don't often spontaneously dole out cookies...I'm certainly not against it, it's just something that hasn't ever occurred to me :dunno

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