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Dogs Enjoy Earning Treats

Study shows dogs prefer to earn treats.

Do you have your dog do a trick or obey a command before you deliver a treat? Or do you give treats periodically for nothing? There was a study in Sweden that suggests dogs may prefer it if you give them something to do to earn their treats (McGowan RT1, 2014).

The Study Set-Up

The study was set up like this:

Twelve beagles were divided into six pairs. Each dog was taught to do certain tasks. Then, one dog in each pair was asked to do the job and then given a treat while the other was made to wait the time it would take to do the task (without being asked to do it) and then given the treat. The experiment was repeated with different tasks and with the dogs in various roles.

The results were this:

Dogs that performed a task acted excited, with lots of tail wagging, after they accomplished it. Dogs that weren't asked to complete a task showed signs of frustration. They didn't know when or if they would get a treat, and that caused exasperation.

How You Can Use the Study Results

Whenever possible, have your dog respond to a command or do a trick before giving a treat. That way, your dog may enjoy treat time more. Not only that, but mental stimulation like this is also important to stave off boredom and keep your dog's brain healthy.

Of course, to have your dog do something for a treat, you'll need to train her on various commands and tricks. Clicker training works great for helping dogs learn faster: "Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview."

Learn how to use treats appropriately during training sessions: "Dog Training Tips: Using Treats Properly."

Also, keep in mind that too many treats can lead to obesity or malnutrition (if your dog doesn't eat enough regular dog food because of too many treats). Learn more: "Healthy Treats for Dogs."

Works Cited

  1. McGowan RT1, R. T. (2014, May). Positive affect and learning: exploring the "Eureka Effect" in dogs. Retrieved from

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Healthy Treats for Dogs

Dog Training Tips: Using Treats Properly

Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview

How to Make Canned Food into Treats for Your Dog

Why You Should Avoid Bone Treats for Your Dog

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