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The Importance of Random Treating

When training your dog on a new command, or trick, at the point that your dog is getting it right at least 80% of the time, you can start shaping and cementing the command or trick with random treating.

Say the dog gets a treat for performing correctly the first two times; the third time you withhold the treat. This causes the dog to think “wait, I was supposed to get a treat” and more often than not, the dog will repeat the behavior in an effort to get the treat (sometimes with more gusto). The third time gets the treat. This response is called an Extinction Burst and was discovered in dolphin training by Susan Boyer.

As you progress and work with your dog, keep a mixed bag of various value level treats in your pouch or bowl on the counter, some really yummy, like turkey hot dogs, some kibble, some cheese, some actual treats. This will help you randomize the treat giving without even trying. Also, remember to withhold the treat altogether randomly.

The dog never knows which performance will get him the really high value treat and keeps him working!