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The Dark Side of Positive Reinforcement: Understanding the Risks of Treat Training


    1. Over-reliance on treats: Treats can become the primary motivator for a dog, leading to a lack of engagement in training when treats are not present.

    2. Health concerns: Dogs who receive too many treats can become overweight, leading to health problems like obesity and digestive issues.

    3. Decreased obedience: Dogs may only respond to what you ask when they know they will receive a treat, leading to decreased state of mind to know what to do, or follow through with good choices in other situations without a treat offered.

    4. Increased anxiety: Treats can create an anxiety-inducing environment, with dogs becoming more nervous, demanding or even aggressive when they are not getting what they expect.

    5. Ineffective training: Treats can be used to mask bad behavior, making it difficult to address underlying issues in training.

    6. Reinforcing fear: Treats can be used to reinforce fear-based behavior, making it difficult to break negative associations with certain stimuli.

    7. Unbalanced reinforcement: Treats can be used to reinforce one behavior over another, leading to an unbalanced training approach.

    8. Decreased bonding: Over-reliance on treats can reduce the bond between the dog and owner, leading to decreased follow through and trust.

    9. Poor long-term results: Treat-based training may not result in long-term behavior changes, as dogs may not be able to generalize learned behaviors to other situations.

    10. Disrupting natural behavior: Treats can disrupt natural behaviors, leading to unnatural or unnatural-looking actions from dogs.

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