One of the most common ways to provide positive reinforcement during dog training is by giving a treat. Unfortunately, not all dogs are motivated by dog treats. If your dog won’t take treats on walk, keep reading to find out why and what to do instead.
Common Causes of Why a Dog Won’t Take Treats on Walk
There are many reasons a dog won’t take treats on walk. The following are some common reasons:
Not a High-Value Treat
Dogs will often turn away dog treats they don’t love when they are choosing the excitement of the walk over the treat. When the treat is a really good one though, such as a piece of raw meat, many dogs will decide to take it.
Another common cause of a dog not taking a treat on a walk is a health issue. If your dog used to take treats on walks and now doesn’t, reach out to your vet to find out if there’s something medically wrong.
A dog won’t take treats on walk if he/she has just had a meal. Many humans can relate to this – no matter how yummy a cookie looks, if you’ve just had a huge meal, a cookie may not have the same allure as it does when not completely stuffed.
Uninterested in Food Rewards
Some dogs are simply uninterested in food rewards, including dog treats. Usually, dogs learn that treats are given for good behavior so if that was never taught to your dog, it’s likely why he won’t take treats after doing something good while on walks.
Some dogs (like people) are simply picky. Your dog may not like the treat you chose to give or may not like treats at all. When your dog won’t take treats on walk and you have a difficult time getting your dog to eat dog food, you may just have a picky dog.
A dog won’t take treats on walk when anxious. If you’re on a busy street or in a new place, your dog may not want to take the treat because they are too many scary things to worry about at the moment. Since positive reinforcement training means giving the reward as soon as the desired behavior is performed, it can make training sessions difficult.
Older dogs may have joint pain making it difficult for them to pick up treats from the group. This could be a reason your dog won’t take treats on walk.
What to Do When a Dog Won’t Take Treats on Walk
Dog training can be difficult when a dog won’t take treats on walk. The good news is that there are other options for positive training. The following tips can be used to reward your dog during leash training.
Praise during leash training is just as effective at changing your dog’s behavior as treats. When your dog exhibits good behavior, get your dog’s attention by getting really excited. In a high, loud voice say, GOOD BOY/GIRL, hug and pat your dog’s head and body.
The louder and more excited you seem, the happier your dog will get and he/she will join in on the festivities. As you do it every time your dog exhibits good behavior, your dog will start to understand why you’re doing it and want to do the behavior over and over again.
Many dogs love to play with their owners. That’s why it’s a great reward to give them. When your dog’s behavior is good, you can throw a ball or play tug of war with a toy you bring along on your walk.
Bring new things with you each time you go on a walk to get your dog’s attention. You’ll soon see that they work just as well as food rewards.
If you combine praise and playtime together, your dog will really know that what you’re doing is rewarding him. Give that a try in your next positive reinforcement training session.
How to Train Your Dog to Take Treats on Walk
If you really want your dog to take treats on a walk, treat training is an option. These are the ways you can do it.
Bring Raw Food
Not too many dogs will turn down raw meat, no matter what their reason is for not taking treats during a walk. Bring small pieces of meat (and some antibacterial wipes) with you on the walk and use them as rewards.
After a while, start giving your pup a dog treat instead of raw meat. Your dog will be so used to getting the raw meat that he/she will take the treat out of habit.
Warning: Don’t use table scraps as those can be dangerous to your pup’s health and lead to weight gain.
Go to Familiar Places
If your dog has high anxiety, you may want to try treat training where there aren’t a lot of scary things or in new places. A dog park can be a good place or on a familiar street without much traffic.
Start with Basic Commands at Home
See if your dog will take a treat at home when you give him/her basic commands. If not, that’s the best place to start with positive reinforcement training. It’s a neutral place and it’s where your pup can learn that treat is a symbol of doing a good job.
Also, since many behavioral issues take place in the home, you can make sure your pup gets the education needed right where the problems happen.
Offer Treats by Hand
If you believe your dog may be suffering from joint pain, try giving your older dog treats by hand.
As always, if your older dog is suddenly acting different, be sure to check in with your vet. While joint pain is common for older dogs, it’s always good to check with the vet to make sure there aren’t any other medical concerns.
Seek the Advice of a Dog Trainer
If you’re still struggling with your dog or young puppy not taking treats on walks, reach out to a dog trainer. This professional can help you with positive training by not only teaching your dog but also you how to encourage desired behavior.
Training Time – Patience Is Key
It’s important for dog owners to understand that training time varies among dogs. Young puppies may understand basic commands quicker, but since they are so energetic it can be difficult to get them to listen.
Older dogs may take longer to learn new behaviors or change old ones, but they can do it with a lot of training time.
Don’t give up. Try treat training or use another type of reward while out and about on the leash. Remember, you can always use fresh raw dog food as long as they are not table scraps.
If you believe there is a medical problem keeping your dog from taking treats on walks, contact your vet. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health.