There seems to be a pervasive and persistent piece of training advice that amounts to something like- “nothing in life is free,” or “make them work for it.”
Many trainers will still tell pet guardians that their dogs should train for every piece of their daily food; perform a specific behavior before having access to cuddles, the backyard, or the couch; or that they are spoiling their pet if they give them special chews, leftovers from their turkey dinner, or feed them treats during walks.
Well, here’s a secret: your pet can’t be “spoiled.”
Your dog won’t take over the world if you give them that extra strip of bacon just for being cute.
Your horse isn’t manipulating you when you give them the rest of your half-eaten apple.
Your cat doesn’t own your house just because you gave them those extra-pricey dried sprats.
In fact, you already control every single aspect of your pet’s life: where they live, with whom they live, what they eat, when they eat, where they potty, when they potty, where they sleep, how much they sleep, whether or not they get to play, what kind of other animals they interact with or live with, the methods used to train them, the places they go, the medical care they receive, even whether they live or die.
Stop telling your dog to sit before every single treat.
Stop telling your pet off just because they are excited to see you and want connection with you.
Make it your goal to show your pet that you love them and want them to be happy, safe, and comfortable.
Invest in your relationship by creating a strong history of reinforcement, and pairing yourself with all the goodies your pet loves.
Just give them the treat!