The Pros and Cons of
Dog Treats for Training

Using dog treats for training can be a highly controversial subject among dog trainers. Some trainers believe that you are spoiling your dog and others believe it’s a scientific principle to be followed like a law. And the truth is both sides are right. To say that one method is better than another is limiting your training options.

Like any training tool, treats must be used correctly in order to see progress in your training program. You could spoil your dog with or without using food. If you are not consistent with food delivery or if you allow the dog to steal the food out of your hands, you will encourage unwanted behaviors. If you are inconsistent with praise and scolding you will have the same problem.

Below are some of the most common arguments for using or not using treats.


  • Using food for training allows your dog to learn behaviors more quickly.
  • Most dogs are motivated by food.
  • Treats combined with a marker can be used for distance training.
  • Dogs can be weaned from treats and perform without them.
  • They can be used to change some aggressive behavior using classical conditioning.
  • Dogs can be taught a series of commands for competition performances by “chaining” them together.


  • Must have a treat available or the dog will not work.
  • Treats are hard to handle and deliver to the dog.
  • Dog only focuses on the treat and not on the task.
  • Your dog will get fat and lazy if you use treats.
  • The timing of treat delivery will cause unwanted behaviors.
  • Dog may not be motivated by food.

Treats are a reward for learning. Once the behavior or exercise is learned, the treats are no longer needed. In my opinion when treats are used as a tool with other methods they speed up the learning process.

I recommend having multiple choices for rewarding your dog. Examples of non-food based rewards are verbal praise, fetch, or petting. For rewards to be effective, what motivates each dog should be taken into consideration.

What Do You Think About Using Dog Treats?

Are dog treats the best or worst way to train your dog? Are they good for training some behaviors but not others?

Tell us what you think about using dog treats. Love them...Hate them? Or are they just another tool in your toolbox?

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