Treat time with Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food

How To Bond With Your Dog: Why Treats Work

Maggie Marton | May 21, 2018

How Dog Treats Help You Bond

Want to have more fun with your dog? Or work on canine good manners? Or teach silly tricks?

How about strengthen your bond with your dog? 

If you yelled “Of course!” to any of the above, there’s one thing you need right now to make it all happen: dog treats!

Can it really be that simple? Yep! 

Using dog treats in your day-to-day interactions adds fun, pleasure, and a big reward into your dog’s daily routine. 

Here’s the thing about food: It activates your dog’s brain and ignites all those good, happy feelings (like when you eat a big bowl of your fave ice cream). Even if your dog doesn’t totally love the task at hand--say, getting his nails trimmed or taking a bath--treats can make those experiences more pleasurable. 

In some circles, dog treats have gotten a bad rap because the misconception is that treats equal bribes. Here’s a parallel that helps explain why this is a myth: 

Imagine starting your work week off with your boss dangling a check in front of you. “You might get this or some of it if you do what I expect you to do even though I haven’t explained it all to you. Sound good?” Of course you’d dust off your resume and find a new job! 

On the other hand, if you get to work, and you’re told what’s expected of you, and then you get a paycheck at the end of the week for doing those things, you’re pumped and ready to get back to work on Monday! (Well. Mostly.)

That’s the difference between being bribed and being rewarded, and being rewarded is awesome! Your dog thinks so, too! 

So, if you’re trying to teach your dog something new, whether it’s to stop jumping on guests who come into your apartment or a fun trick like twirling in circles, using treats makes the activity fun for your dog. Plus, it speeds up the learning process to reward the behaviors you want (and ignore the behaviors you don’t want) with a yummy dog treat. 

And joy of all joys, your dog starts to see you as the ultimate superhero. Not only do you play with him, walk him, feed him, love him… you also dole out goodies! Score! 

By the way, this is especially important when you bring home a new rescue pup. Dog treats can help you bond faster because the new pup sees you as a giver of good things, and for dogs with an unknown or unpleasant past, this can be extra important. Dog treats, simple little cookies, can be the foundation of your relationship. 

The best part about using dog treats to build your bond is that you don’t have to use big treats or even a lot of treats. Teeny, tiny bites work wonders! You don’t have to overindulge your pup to reap the rewards. 

On one final note: When it comes to bonding with dog treats, it’s important to keep an eye on your pup’s waistline. If you bring home a new dog, or if you’re doing a ton of training, be sure to use healthy treats that are also low in calories.