How To Train A Dog That Doesn’t Like Treats

Training your dog, be it a puppy or a grown dog, requires understanding, employment of well thought out tactics and of course, patience.

One of the most important things required in training your “buddy” is treats! Dogs love treats, but what do you do when your dog isn’t interested in the treats you offer him? Don’t give up just yet, follow me as I give you useful tips on how to train a dog that doesn’t like treats.

Keep reading to learn how… 

It’s rare to find a dog that shows zero interest in treats, most times they are all in and would follow your commands just to get a tasty bite. Don’t be surprised if you discover your dog is picky, humans are picky too!

There are certain things you may not have considered as to why your dog refuses your treats. 

1. Your dog could be picky

As a person, I bet you don’t eat foods that are unappealing to you, your dog could have that trait too. At this point, it’s up to you to look for what gets his tail wagging!

You can go to your local pet store and search for doggie treats that have a combination of flavors, textures, and sizes to reward him. Consider these treats as you shop
  • Biscuit treats: These are hard, cookie-type treats that are hard. Your dog may fancy the challenge since they love cracking hard bones.
  • Soft baked treats: These are soft treats that feel like cookies. They are easy to break. This is great for dogs who are less enthusiastic about a hard, cracking challenge.
  • Jerky treat: This is basically meat that has been trimmed of fat and cut into little strips. It’s also dry and easy to break
  • Freeze-dried treats: These have been frozen and stored in a vacuum chamber to extract water from the ingredients. They are also soft and easy to rip up
  • Fruits and vegetables: are you surprised? Dogs love fruits and veggies too. Consider these as an option for your dog

During training, have a handful of a variety of treats. If your dog refuses the biscuit treats, try giving him treats that have more meat in them. Explore several options just to be sure.

If he finally shows interest in a particular flavor, then you’ve hit the jackpot!

2. Your dog could be distressed

You may have just moved to a new place or your dog just started living with you. He may miss his old home or family and refusing treats might be his way of expressing it.

You may not know this but dogs experience distress (negative stress) & eustress (positive stress). Both of these can lead to mental blocks so take note of the signs.

Dogs will always try to adapt to their new environment, so all you need to do is give him time. When he’s settled in, he’ll become more comfortable and more likely to eat.

3. Your dog may be suspicious

Yes, this is true

Your own best pal could be suspicious of you, his parent. This is very common in situations where dog owners always use treats to influence their dogs to do the things they don’t like.

If your dog doesn’t like showers, and you always use treats to entice him to take one, then he might grow tired of it someday. He may decide a few bites of a treat isn’t worth getting soaked in soap and water and he’ll shun your treats. Ouch!

If this is the case, then you’ll have to pull out all stops to regain your dog’s trust with treats and food in general. You need to devise a means to remind him that offering him treats doesn’t automatically mean he’ll pass through an uncomfortable experience.

You have to re-strategize and start relating his treats to things he enjoys doing. When the trust is regained, he’ll start accepting your treats again

4. That may be his nature

Hard to believe, but some breeds aren’t just interested in being “bribed” with food. Even though dogs share basically the same characteristics, they aren’t entirely the same.

Some love to play more than they eat, and some love to eat more than they play. Some aren’t just motivated by food.

Bulldogs, pit bulls and Labradors are food motivated breeds, and they’ll do almost anything for a bite. Breeds best known for herding and guarding are less interested in food.

Being the owner, you have to find the things that motivate your dog and use them as rewards for good behavior. It could be a simple belly rub (which basically all dogs love)

So, how do you train a dog that isn't treats or food motivated?

Consider these strategies:

1. Change The Environment

Your dog has most likely understood the routines at home but may act differently when he’s outside. This is an indication that the training environment may be the problem.

Now:

When you train your dog in a different environment (other than the ones he’s used to), he will understand that the rules are constant, regardless of where you are. At this point, you can start making meaningful progress with his training.

Take him to environments with little distractions so you can have his full attention.

When you notice his progress, you can move training to more distracting areas.

Remember, you need to be patient!

2. Consider Life Rewards

Your dog may not be moved by doggy treats, however, he still needs to eat, drink water, play and potty.

Food, water, and playtime are among the life rewards you can use to influence his training. If not for anything else, he’ll play along for the sake of getting these life rewards.

3. Add Value

If your dog isn’t interested in treats, then you need to add some extra value to his training, one that he would appreciate.

Using juicy, high value treats is a great way to grab his full attention and obedience.

Dry training treats would seem unworthy to an uninterested dog, but freshly made treats (like juicy meatballs) would appeal more to his nature.

4. Encourage Him To Give You His Attention Over His Distractions

Spending some playtime with other dogs is a good strategy in this case. It may serve as a reward for obedience during training.

You can take him out to a dog park so he could mingle with other dogs. But before you let him in, you could stand at the gate (where he has a clear view of the other dogs having fun), and give him a command which he must obey.

What’s the bottom line? 

If he obeys your command, then you can take him into the park and let him off the leash so he could play with other dogs.

Do this regularly and in no time, your training would be enforced.

5. Separate Him From His Distractions

As his parent, it is up to you to figure out what distracts him. It could be the TV at home, or the kids playing in the park.

Whatever is distracting him from paying full attention to you has to be removed from the scenario. If you can’t move the distraction, then you need to move training to a place where his distractions are absent and teach him there.

Once he has your full attention, he would be more responsive to training. You’d be surprised that he’ll become more interested in the treats you offer since there is nothing else exciting around.

Once again, you need to do this regularly and bear in mind that results may not come overnight.

What Are The Best Dog Treats?

Don’t panic if your dog isn’t a foodie, there are a few irresistible delicacies out there which they’ll absolutely love!

Here are some good recommendations:

1. Stella & Chewy's Carnivore Crunch Beef Recipe

The pack contains small batches of freeze-dried treats that come in 3 options

  • Carnivore Crunch
  • Wild weenies
  • Single-ingredient treats
 They are great for training rewards and are ideal for dogs that experience food allergies.

2. Zuke's Mini Naturals Fresh Peanut Butter Formula Dog Treats

This contains less than 3 calories per treat and is excellent for dog training. They are also soft and chewy so your dog would surely enjoy the sensation as they chew.

These treats are as natural as they come, having cherry, turmeric and natural peanut butter flavors. It has no artificial coloring either.

 Your dog would love them!

3. Ziwipeak Vension Treats

The recipe for this product is made up of 96% fresh meat, organs, and bones. Just what your dog will love!

It also includes green mussels, organic kelp, and green tripe. It has no peas or potatoes.

All proteins in this product are grass-fed and grass-finished!

4. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Heaven Dog Biscuits With Salmon & Sweet Potato

This doggie treat is as tasty as they come. It has very recognizable ingredients which include salmon and sweet potato. Yummy!

It is ideal for training your dog.

Can I Feed My Dog “Human Food” If He Refuses Regular Doggie Treats?

Dogs are mainly carnivores, but there are certain foods we eat that are also good for them. If you’re having difficulty in training your dog with regular doggie treats, then you may try some foods that humans consume.

Below are some of those foods:

  • Peanut butter – many dog owners don’t know this, but dogs absolutely love peanut butter! It is an excellent source of their much-needed protein and it is filled with healthy fats.Be sure to give them raw, unsalted peanut butter that is free of artificial sweeteners, most especially xylitol, as this is very toxic to dogs!
  • Cooked chicken – you can stuff in a few pieces of chicken to your dog’s meal. This will provide some extra protein to his diet and it’s an excellent replacement for doggie treats!
  • Cheese – if your dog is lactose intolerant, then don’t give him any, but if he isn’t, then this will make a great treat for him!NOTE – most dogs consume lactose so it’s safe for them.Permit me to recommend cottage cheese, it’s a great choice!
  • Baby carrots – these are great for dogs, as they are sweet and rich in vitamins.They are also low in calories and high in fiber. Exactly what your dog needs.
  • Yogurt – Yogurt is pretty high in calcium and protein, once again DO NOT give your dog yogurt that contains artificial sweeteners or added sugars.Yogurts that contain active bacteria can act as probiotics and can aid your dog’s digestive system.
  • Salmon – Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which will keep your dog looking healthy and fresh. It also supports your dog’s immune system.Cooked salmon is a tasty treat that he’ll enjoy, thanks to its natural oils.
  • Apple slices – besides being a great source of vitamin A and C, apples help clean off the residue from your dog’s teeth.Before you feed him some slices of that juicy apple, be sure to first pick out the seeds and the core, just so he doesn’t accidentally choke.
  • Green beans – they are filling and low in calories, so they make a great substitute treat for your dog.Be sure the beans contain no added salt.

Training Your Dog With A Toy if He Doesn't Like Treats

Your dog may start finding treats boring, so you may want to step your game up and start using toys for training. The question is this – what if he doesn’t like toys?

Well, there’s a solution to dogs that don’t like toys. Follow these easy steps:
  • Sit on the floor – this is your first move. Your dog would naturally be inclined to come closer to you when you’re on the ground.
  • Show him you have his favorite treats – it’s true your dog may not be a foodie, but there must be a certain treat he just can’t resist.Show him you’ve got a hand full of that particular treat but don’t give it to him. Simply tell him to sit at attention.
  • Get him to acknowledge the toy – this is the next step, you would want him to make some kind of contact with the toy, even if it’s just a quick one with his nose.You could place his favorite treat under the toy to draw him to it. The moment he reaches under the toy for the treat, praise him in an excited manner then let him have the treat.
  • Move the toy around – use your hand to shift the toy away from its original position and say a command like “get” as you move the toy. At this point, your dog expects treats to be under the toy and would most likely follow your hand in any direction it goes.If your dog’s nose touches the toy, give him praises and one more of that delicious treat
  • Enforce the command – after repeating the previous processes a few times, move the toy and say “get”, but this time, do not reward him immediately. Let him get nosy with the toy for a while before you give him his treat.

Why Are Dogs Attracted To Squeaky Rubber Toys?

They could be attracted to them for a few reasons, but mainly because it reminds them of those tiny little animals they love to chase around.

The squeaking sound is kind of like the cries of prey, and that is very satisfying for the predator to hear.

Another reason they like squeaky toys is the response it gives them to their bites or paws. When they squeeze or bite the toy, it makes a sound that they are not threatened by, instead, they are entertained by it. It’s like they’re playing a cause-and-effect based game!

What Are The Best Types Of Toys For Training Dogs?

If you want your dog to obey you, then something has to give, especially in the early stages of training.

Toys are a great substitute for treats, and I’m sure you’d like to know the best types of toys you can train your dog with.

Well, I’ve split them into two categories. They are:

Active toys – these are hard rubber toys that make sounds when pressed. Dogs love the response effect (noise the toy makes when chewed or pressed).

I recommend!

Comfort toys – these are soft, fluffy toys that offer your dog some form of comfort. It could even be an old sweater or towel of yours (they’ll love these in particular because the smell would remind them of you).

Wrap Up

Since most dogs like treats, you may be shocked to see your dog ignore the ones you offer him. Don’t fret, just try and figure out why (the hints earlier listed in this article should help you).

These tips have worked for many and they will work for you. Kindly share any extra tips you may have on how to train a dog that doesn’t like treats via the comment box.

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