As per the usual, I have a question. Just want to see if I have it right – the difference between high-value and low-value treats is basically how much the dog would like one over the other, and generally you can get the dog to “trade” a toy or something else if you offer a high-value treat, but you can use low-value treats for training. Is this correct at all? I just keep seeing these distinctions in other blogs/websites, so I need to enhance my knowledge. 🙂
Yes, Naturella. A high value treat is also one that you wouldn’t normally be giving Bruno on a regular basis. A treat that he would give up anything and everything to have. A high value treat is usually more “food” related than actually a commercial type treat. A piece of liver, chicken, etc. Or if you don’t normally feed him freeze dried foods than it can be a piece of that. Low value treats are not meant low value as in quality but low value would be treats that he gets all the time and is not really going to go out of his way to do exactly what you want when you want for that treat that he gets just for looking pretty or any other reason. It has to be really special and only used for those high value training sessions. Hope I’m explaining myself clearly and not running on too much.
Hey, Dori, you are making perfect sense, no worries! Thanks for responding! 🙂
That is kind of what I thought because we normally give him various kibble as treats and when he sees a kibble sample baggie he gets pretty excited, but when I head to the closet where his special treats are (bully sticks, cow/lamb ears, pig snouts, chicken/duck feet, Etta Says chews, knick-knacks, tendons, tracheas, etc.), or to the fridge/freezer where the RMBs and Kong/other stuffed chews live, he gets SUPER excited, so I understand now. He only gets those on super special occasions, and the regular kibble on the daily for little training sessions or what not. Ergo, special treats are high-value treats. 🙂
I keep 3-4 treats on me at a time. Regular, bulk of what I’m using treats-usually 2 varieties (i try to keep it low cal as possible) A high Value Treat, a treat too of natural unsweetened peanut butter. With Dani I also keep both a fleece tug and a Bumi for throwing, as those are rewarding to her and good for certain speed situations. Liesl has no interest in that 🙂
The regular treats i use (i like to use 2 for variety) for just run of the mill training, walks, classes, completing obstacles, etc… I throw in a high value treat every now and then to keep them on their toes 😉 I also use them for certain things they may be struggling with-say Bruno was having a lot of trouble with his recall, use a high value treat. I almost always use high value treats when training Leave It. Peanut Butter I only use for 2 things (usually, those big eyes can turn me into a sucker dad) Recalls, and completing a course in agility.
That was all a jumbled mess. my short version:
Low Value (as Dori said, not low quality, just less exciting): Everyday training, commands they know, group classes for warm up etc…
Examples: Zukes, Boulder Dog Food Chicken Bits, The Honest Kitchen Quickies, Bare Bites
High Value: Commands you’re struggling with, counter conditioning fear, recalls (maybe), Leave Its
Examples: Freeze Dried Stuff (Simply Sojos, Stella and Chewys, Fresh is Best)
Special High Value Awesomeness: I like this for recalls because they are so important, and then after a course or something where they don’t get a ton of treats
Examples: For me-Peanut Butter because they love it. I would possible lump in the Fresh is Best freeze dried organ meats as well, because I’ve seen dogs fall off of things for it 😉
Hope that was semi helpful
Yup, you got it right! I like to use high-value treats when training new commands, and low-value treats when reinforcing them. We also met with a trainer on Sunday to work on Lily’s dog reactivity, and we are using high-value treats when practicing the exercises, even without dogs present.
@aquariangt, this was super helpful actually! And I’ve been eying the THK Quickies for a while, I may just invest in some in the future, when at least most my kibble samples have been used up. 😀
I never thought to use high-value treats for commands Bru struggled with! I would just use extra low-value ones, for example 3-4 pieces instead of just one kibble. But I will try to implement that! Maybe Bruno will learn to go potty quicker if I am about to give him a piece of a knick-knack or something! And to come when called (lil’ sucker struggles with recalling when in a new environment too). Also, I don’t know if this is “training proprietary info”, but what is counter conditioning fear? Basically teaching a dog to not be afraid? If you can’t explain (like, if you normally get paid to explain this), then you don’t have to.
Also, would it be safe to throw him a stuffed Kong to help with any potential separation anxiety when we leave the house? I don’t think Bruno’s really bad, he just looks super miserable when we’re leaving, but he finally stopped getting into the trashcans (his only menace), and more often than not we find him just waking up from a nap when we come home, so he’s good now about not destroying anything.
D_O, thank you for sharing this! Are high-value treats ok to give in larger amounts until the dog learns a new trick? I guess I can try to break some of them up, or cut them small… Would they still be considered high-value by Bruno then too?
It would probably be okay to give high-value treats in slightly larger amounts once and a while, though take into consideration overall calories. On Sunday, we were using Bixbi Pork Jerky and breaking it up into teeny tiny pieces, and that was plenty motivating enough for Lily. Yes, I did violate the “no jerky” rule, because what she can eat on the elimination diet is very limited. Bixbi is basically built around the cardinal value of being american made and sourced.
Treat parties for new commands and commands you struggle with are great! Nothing wrong with extra treats for something tough, I often make one little treat last forever (great for stays especially) mixing all those tactics together is great, and it’s good to keep me guessing. For old things I also move into treating every 2-4 times instead of every time, the. Two in a row, then skip a few, etc… When you are getting ready for the good citizen for example, you can’t have treats, so it’s good to get to that point without treats. And I see no problem with giving lots of high value treats for learning things, I don’t only pull them out a couple times in a session.
Unless any of you are planning on coming to Colorado for dog training, you aren’t clients that would normally pay me, so I have no problems sharing 🙂 ( I do however get loads of people mooching for free advice, mostly I don’t care but if it’s intensive, I’ll tell them to setup an appointment. The worst is people who call me about dog training that I don’t know from Adam, and ask me a million questions hoping for free answers, grr…) anyhow, off topic, you all are my internet dog friends so no worries.
Counter conditioning is quite simple, and exactly what it sounds like. Helping your dog not be afraid or anxious in a situation that puts them over threshold, causes fear, or is otherwise a hard position for them to be in. I do this the exact opposite way of what you see the dog whisperer do on tv ;-). I’ll use my sisters Westie for a really basic example with cars. He was terrified of them (can’t blame that eh?) but it was to the point where he would yank, bark, go crazy- unsafe really. So every time a car drove by, we worked on focusing on her, making her a pez dispenser, hand out as many treats as he would take, and reward when the car was gone. Clickers help with this as well. Eventually he got to the point where he could sit and focus without treats, and then click and treat party. Now she doesn’t even have to stop walking, but from time to time gives him a treat anyway. This tactic can be used for a lot of different counter conditioning, and I really like the clicker and having some shaping skills worked in for a lot of it as well
D_O and aquariangt, I see, ok, so high-value treats are good for learning new things and enforcing commands that Bruno struggles with. But low-value treat parties work too. I shall keep that in mind! 🙂
Bruno needs to work on recalling, heeling, waiting (not allowed to get a treat from my hand until I say so; we use “leave it” for things he wants to get from the ground and he’s actually pretty good with it) and staying on command, and hopefully learning to potty quicker when taken out to do so, lol.
All his other little tricks like sitting, shaking “hands” and alternating the paws when told so, laying down, rolling over, turning around in a circle, going up and down on command, pawing at something specific, giving high-fives and high-tens, sitting with front paws up (on his butt), standing on hind legs, jumping, going into his crate and onto his bed, going to “see” (more like lick) me or Brian on command, giving kisses on command, barking on command and being quiet when told so (FINALLY!!!) – he is pretty good with those, but still need to polish up the ones noted above. I am also trying to think of what else to teach him, maybe walking for some time on hind legs, or bringing various items on command… IDK. If I can get to an agility course, I would love to teach him agility type “tricks”, but we don’t have one super close to where I live. Maybe one day! 🙂
Also, aquariangt, I don’t think I will be going to Colorado anytime soon, and quite possibly if we go, it won’t be for dog training, lol. But I hear it’s beautiful and outdoorsy, so if we move to the North West we may visit Colorado. But feel free to share whatever else you want (I promise not to bug you about it!), just whatever is good about training for a person who doesn’t train professionally to know. 🙂
Thanks again for all the tips, everyone! As usual, it is much, much appreciated! 🙂
@aquariangt You’re a dog trainer? Cool! I don’t think I knew that before! Anyway, the exercise that we started on Sunday is similar to counterconditioning, only it has a bit of a twist. It is called a U-turn, and this is how it works. I will walk with Lily, and as soon as we get in view of a dog (Or at random times right now for practice), I say “Lily, let’s go!” in an enthusiastic voice. She turns around and looks at me, and then we walk backwards a few steps. I then ask for a behavior, like sit, and praise her for a few seconds, then give a treat. We can do easier (no sit or wait) or harder (harder behaviors, longer wait) depending on the level of distraction.
I am, part time, unfortunately. I’d love to make it full time, and while I have some plans potentially in the works, it will be a while before that goes on. To be able to sustain as that being your source of income, you have to really have a niche in the market that is already saturated. I’m not really a behaviorist, and I’m not sure that’s the direction I want to go in, so that’s the majority of what people are looking for. While I do agility and teach some basics, I have no titles (yet ;-)) so there’s another big revenue draw. Right now I do group classes of obedience and agility for the typical pet dog, and that’s good enough for the time being :). Grew up with it, showed in 4h when I was younger, led 4h as I got older, and never could fully separate from the dog world. Food service is fun too though 😛
And what you are doing with Lily is great, it’s the same concept as what I said with the cars, and have used the same technique with Liesl-most positive trainers use the same things, which is why nothing I do I would consider “proprietary” as Naturella asked
High value when your dog MUST pay attention to you or when you are in situations where it may be difficult to get your dog’s attention. Low value for every day stuff, like pottying in the right place, coming in from the yard, lying down for some quiet time.
BCnut, I see, thanks! 🙂
Anyone got any ideas on what else we can teach Bruno to do, or if we should just work on his struggle areas?
My favorite YouTube channel for finding fun new tricks is kykopup
OMG, so many ideas!!! Snow day project for tomorrow – found – a reliable stay with ignoring any and all distractions! Let’s see how little guy does! 🙂
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