Dog Training Treat Bag, Bait Bag: Should You Use Them?

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Dog Training Treat Bag, Bait Bag: Should You Use Them?

Dog treat Bags
Life lesson caught on camera. Dex as a pup.

As you probably already know, I’m a positive dog trainer, and I use a lot of rewards in dog training. Read this article on why. These dog training rewards are anything (safe) that the dog finds valuable and willing to work for. Healthy dog treats, his dog foodcooked meatmotivational dog toys, attention, petting, verbal praise, sniffing, access to something he wants…..you get the idea. So why, then, do I not love wearing a bait bag, or dog training treat pouch, fanny pack, etc. during dog training?

Because it’s “training.” It’s a tip-off to your dog that you are “training.” It would be one more thing you would need to fade in order for your dog to be able to do a behavior “without seeing the treat” so to speak. I prefer to teach my dog and to coach dog training students to incorporate dog training into their everyday life. To make training a life lesson. I do, however, believe a dog training reward needs to come immediately after a behavior, so rewards need to be easily, and quickly accessible.

I accomplish effective dog training by following a few guidelines. First, a dog is always learning. My job is to teach him what I want him to do, and prevent him from doing things I would rather he didn’t do. I reward often for good behaviors and have a high management program to ensure he is more likely to be right than wrong.

Second, I love to teach dogs a reward marker. This means that I teach a dog that a specific word or noise is a promise that a reward will quickly follow. In other words, it is like taking a picture of the behavior you want, and communicating to your dog that he did something that will earn him a paycheck. Two common markers that are used in dog training are a dog training clicker and a word such as YES! If you use a word, remember, he will earn a reward every time you use it, so do NOT use “good.” Too many people will use the word “good” around your dog, and it may not be followed by a reward. I use both a YES and clicker, but not at the same time.

To teach your dog a reward marker, think about Pavlov. You remember him, from the 1900s. Ring a bell, feed a dog. Then pretty soon, the dog learned the bell=food, which we call classical conditioning. You are going to do the same thing with your reward marker.

 

First, say your word, such as Yes! then immediately treat your dog with a high-value reward like a piece of meat. Repeat 10 times. Do this at random times throughout the day. Pretty soon your dog will anticipate the reward after you say your reward marker. PAVLOV! During training, your dog will start to learn that you say your reward marker because of something HE did, creating a learning opportunity.

Butt on the ground=YES=Food. More butts on the ground.

Thirdly, I try to have rewards in my pocket at all times if I’m actively trying to teach specific behaviors like not jumpingname game, come when called, etc. This allows training to be incorporated into every situation when needed, and again a life lesson, not a training lesson. If I do not have pockets (not an option for me), you will want to make sure that rewards are very accessible, like within 5 seconds. This is where your reward marker will really come in handy.

Putting it together will look a little something like this. Your dog now understands that YES!=Food reward. You have your dog’s rewards in your pocket throughout the day. As you are interacting with your dog, wait for a good behavior such as not jumping, butt on the ground, watching you, say “YES!” then immediately reward your dog. Do this often throughout your dog on any and all life lessons you want to teach your dog. The more often you reward these good behaviors, the more often your dog will offer them.

The beauty is, there’s no tip off like a bait bag. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate dog treat bags, but they are just one more thing I need to get out of the training equation for my dog to “be good” just because. And I do wear one on occasion when I’m teaching dog training classes, or on a private consultation. It’s a backup, in case my clients don’t have valuable enough rewards, or run out. But I take it out of our equation quickly.

IF you need a good dog training treat bag, here are a few I do like. But remember, you do want to fade them as soon as possible.

 

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