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How to Train Your Dog Without Treats: 4 Vet-Approved Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

boston terrier puppy being trained by owner

How to Train Your Dog Without Treats: 4 Vet-Approved Tips


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Having a well-trained dog is a crucial part of the pet owner’s experience. You don’t want a pup that’s out of control, and you don’t want to carry a ton of treats with you every time you want them to listen.

We understand, and it’s why we took the time to highlight exactly how you can train your dog without ever using a treat. It might take a bit more time and energy, but it’ll just go to show that you don’t need to give your pup a ton of treats to train them.


Before You Start

Before diving into training your dog without any treats, it’s important to recognize why you want to do so. You’ll want to evaluate your dog’s personality and determine which reward system will work best for them.

Even if you decide to use treats, you can wean them off as they learn, but if you don’t stay consistent with the training, their obedience can become conditioned only with the presence of the treats.

If you have a dog that does well without treats, is eager for attention, or is simply eager to please, you might be able to skip the treats entirely. Give your pup an honest evaluation before skipping the treats entirely. Otherwise, you might be signing yourself up for more work for no reason!

PK paw divider

The 4 Tips for Training Your Dog Without Treats

Now that you decided to train your dog without using any treats, it’s time to learn how to do it. We’ve broken it down into four easy-to-follow steps for you here:

1. Pick Out a Consistent Time

Start by looking at your schedule. You don’t need to dedicate a ton of time to training your dog, but you do need to find a consistent 10- to 30-minute practice window throughout the day that you can dedicate to training.

Having the same time and the same routine each day will make it easier for your pup to understand when it’s time for training, and with any luck, they’ll come to look forward to the training sessions!

german shepherd dog resting his head on his owner doing training
Image by: Natalliaskn, Shutterstock

2. Stay Positive

To be effective while training, you need to stay positive and avoid any punishment throughout the entire session. Punishing a pup for not listening will only lead to confusion, hurt, and a desire for your pup to avoid training sessions instead of looking forward to them.

Your pup wants to listen and get the reward, and it’s your job to help them figure out how to do it!

3. Reward With Affection

You’re not rewarding your dog with treats, but you still need something for your pup to look forward to if they listen. Instead of treats, you want to use a “real life” reward. We recommend praising them in a positive tone, petting them, and giving them all the attention they want when they listen.

blonde girl hugs her beloved doberman dog in the park
Image by: MaKo-studio, Shutterstock

4. Stay Consistent

Just because your pup is starting to listen to you doesn’t mean it’s time to ditch the training sessions or the affection. If you want your pup to continue listening, you need to keep up with the training sessions and the praise. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself right back at square one in no time.


In Conclusion

Training your dog shouldn’t seem like a chore. It’s a great time for you to bond with them, and you don’t need to spend a ton of money on treats to get them involved and trained. Stay consistent, keep a positive attitude, and have fun!

If you do those three things, it’s only a matter of time until your dog starts to listen, regardless of whether you’re feeding them a ton of treats or excitedly rubbing their belly!

Featured Image Credit: LI Cook, Shutterstock

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