When & How Often Should Treats Be Given to Dogs

by Lori Corrigan
    Treats are beneficial daily additions in several ways.

    Treats are beneficial daily additions in several ways.

    Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

    Treats are an important part of your dog's day for a number of reasons. Not only are they key components in behavioral training, serving as consistent motivators that encourage positive progress, but they also stimulate physical activity and add dietary variety, all of which play a role in providing your pup with a well-rounded routine.

    Behavior Training

    Positive reinforcement is the cornerstone of good training, according to the Humane Society of the United States, and treats are key components of reaching this objective. Most dogs are highly food motivated (which is why they tend to beg for whatever you're eating), so it makes sense to tap into this natural instinct when working on basic behavior training. Once your canine companion gets the connection between what you ask and what he receives, he anticipates the treat for performing that behavior.

    Establishing Routine

    Dogs thrive on knowing what's expected of them, so routine is a good concept to encourage. Treats play a fun, tasty role in establishing and maintaining familiarity of everyday events. For example, pet parents can establish daily consistency by giving treats before or after mealtime, when leaving or arriving back home, before bed, as behavior rewards or after walking the dog.

    Frequency and Quantity

    While treats are an important part of your dog's day, they can also cause unwanted weight gain if not closely monitored. According to "The Whole Dog Journal," treats should be included in your dog's total caloric count, which means adjusting meal size to accommodate the additional calories. One biscuit can be broken into smaller tidbits that provide as much palate-pleasing enjoyment with less weight impact.

    Type of Treats

    Treats don't have to be restricted to dog-specific products, with some options being much more nutritious than buying a box of biscuits. Fresh green beans and cubed apples are two of several excellent alternatives for flavor, cost and nutritional value, according to "Modern Dog Magazine," making it a win/win situation for your dog's taste buds as well as your budget. However, not all fruits and vegetables are safe for canine consumption, so be sure to first check with your vet before introducing a new food.

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    About the Author

    Based in Arizona, Lori Corrigan is a social media collaborator with more than 25 years of experience in research writing and editing. Her work has appeared in "Ladies' Home Journal," "Woman's Day" and "Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul," covering topics such as business, psychology, animal welfare and academia.

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