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lillycoyote's avatar

Puppy training question: Is there some way, reasonably systematic, to find out what treats your dog might like more than others?

Asked by lillycoyote (24798points) June 24th, 2011

Other than trial and error? I’m thinking probably not but still hoping. Lizzie is my first dog and we are “in training.” She just seems to be a little picky in the treat department. I have found one treat that likes more than the others and maybe I’ll stick with that but there are so fricking many out there. Even the local pet store chain, with it’s smaller stores, has an entire aisle full of bags and boxes of treats. Petsmart, they must have a hundred different kinds, in the treat aisle and scattered around the store.

She may prefer that one kind treat over the others I have tried but what if there’s a treat out there, that I just haven’t found yet, that she’d do anything for? It sure would help with training. I can’t try a hundred different kinda of treats, at between $3–4 and 8$ a pop until I find one she loves. Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe there is no perfect treat but there are some that don’t give me very good results at all, so there must be some she would like better, right?

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13 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Well, you can usually deduce some of it from what they like in food. Like my cats like tuna, but not salmon or whitefish or other common seafood for cat food, and they like chicken but not beef (and they prefer chopped bits in gravy over that pate shit Costco keeps pushing). So I just get them whatever has tuna in it. A lot of times, you can find samples on the websites, or you can ask friends with dogs if you can have a couple treats to test out on her. You might even be able to ask the people at Petsmart or Petco if they have a couple samples you can try. I don’t know that I’d worry about finding “the best” one, so much as one she loves. She probably won’t really train faster because she loves a treat more, but rather because the rules became clear and were consistent and you were patient and she had time.

lillycoyote's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Yeah, you’re probably right. I think I was maybe hoping that I could find some magic super training treat that would make her obey me instantly because it was just so damn tasty. Oh, well. Once again, no magic substitute for hard work, patience and persistence. I gave a shot though. She does really like the one more than the other and I’ve only had her for about six weeks and am still discovering her tastes, her likes and dislikes. I tend to avoid free samples courtesy of a company’s website so that’s kind of out of the equation. You have to give them at the very least your name and address and then you just end up on yet another mailing list, or a hundred mailing lists, because they sell their own mailing lists to other people… not interested.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@lillycoyote I actually have a fake email address just for samples. I get tons of them all the time. The fake email address gets spammed, of course, but it’s not really an issue. Haven’t had an increase in physical junk mail, though.

No, the treat might make it clear how desperately she wants to obey you, but that’s different from actually understanding the rules and being obedient. Sorry!

snowberry's avatar

I’m guessing a bitty spoon with a bit of Li’l Caesars would do the trick. I noticed that someone here said that most dogs would do just about anything for that stuff. Or get something good and stinky like tuna, or oysters. It’s messy, but I’m guessing the dog would do back flips if he could get more of this stuff.

You also would do well to make him work for his tricks when he’s hungry. Then it might not be much of an issue.

lillycoyote's avatar

@lillycoyote Do you have a fake home address that you have the samples delivered to also? No, I guess not, that’s why you get the physical junk mail, those are the mailing lists I don’t want to be on.


MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@lillycoyote Lol, no – I’m saying my physical junk mail hasn’t increased. I still just get the weekly Kroger coupons, some fliers for various delivery restaurants, and car insurances soliciting people who haven’t lived at my address for years.

lillycoyote's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs You said something and I thought you said the exact opposite thing? Man…and I was doing so well with my new brain implants, I thought.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@lillycoyote Ain’t that the way it goes?

Plucky's avatar

The best way I’ve found is this:

Go to a specialty petfood/supply store; the ones that have small open buckets for you to scoop out treats. These specialty places usually sell much healthier treats than grocery or pet stores (like Petland and Petsmart – I can’t stand these stores).

Go and pick out a small handful of treats from each or several of the buckets. If you tell the store employee that you are trying to find out which treat your dog likes, they may even give you free samples. Take these varieties home.

Take each different handful of treat ..put them in their own piles on the floor, at home. Put the piles about 6 inches apart. The dog will usually sniff them all before eating from one of the piles. Watch which one(s) your dog starts eating first. Just make sure not to do this when she is hungry. Let her try it on a full belly. It may take a few different tries to find out her favourites. This works well with different dog foods too (good petfood/supply stores usually give free samples).

crisw's avatar

If you really want to get systematic, here is what you do (this was a science fair project I helped a student work on years ago.)

Make a list of the treats you want to try.

Grid them out so that each treat is paired with every other treat- for example, if you have cheese, liver and biscuits, the list would be:
cheese, liver
cheese, biscuits
liver, biscuits

Get a cookie sheet. Tie your dog to something, and get a handful of dry dog kibble. Place two pieces on the sheet, equidistant from the dog’s nose. Offer the dog the tray, and take it away as soon as the dog has eaten one piece of kibble. Repeat until the dog has the idea that he will get only one treat from the tray at a time.

You can now run your test with the paired snacks (if you have a small dog or a puppy, wait until the dog is hungry). Record the results. Count up the times each treat places first. You now know which treat your dog likes best :>D

lillycoyote's avatar

@crisw LOL. That’s a little too systematic, I think. And, when taken out of it’s context, a science fair experiment, possibly more than a tad OCD. But thanks anyway:>D

Plucky's avatar

@lillycoyote You’re very welcome. Good luck with the experiment. :)

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