Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.
When you’re training, treats certainly come in handy. A handful of little meaty morsels, and you’ve just increased the chances of even the most mischievous dog being ready for a session.
But, because rewarding your dog frequently is so important during training sessions, it can be tricky to avoid overfeeding your dog – while the best dog treats can be part of a healthy balanced canine diet in moderation, too many treats can cause health problems.
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“One of the most important things you can do during training sessions is reward frequently!” she begins in the video’s caption. “This can completely change your dog’s success rate and enthusiasm. It means you’re going to be using a lot of treats!”
DeWillems explains that you should use tiny pieces of treats when training your pup, to avoid overfeeding them: “For small dogs, we use, basically, crumbs. For bigger dogs, we use pea-sized pieces.”
She continues, “This means your treats either need to be small enough to begin with, or super squishy and easy to rip up on the fly!”
You might be reading this and asking the question, “How much should I feed my dog?” The truth is, there’s no easy answer, as every dog is different, as is every food and every treat. But many dogs receive more calories than they need, through a combination of their usual food and treats.
The occasional extra treat – particularly if it’s one of the 10 healthiest dog treats for training – isn’t likely to do any harm, but consistently overfeeding your pup can make them overweight or obese. And obesity can lead to problems like arthritis and back pain, as well as make your dog more likely to develop health conditions including cancer and heart disease.
So, it’s a good idea to make sure that you aren’t feeding your dog too much when it comes to training sessions. A little can go a long way, and your dog will be just as happy with small treats, or smaller chunks of treats as they will with bigger treats. And you’ll save a little bit of money at the same time.
If you feel like getting in the kitchen between training sessions, why not make your own homemade dog treats with these eight scrumptious recipes?
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.