Training a Puppy With Food: Building a Happy, Well-Behaved Companion14 Jul

Training a Puppy With Food: Building a Happy, Well-Behaved Companion

Bringing a new puppy into your home is an exciting and joyous experience. As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to invest time and effort into properly training your furry friend. One of the most effective rewards you can use to train your puppy is food. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of training a puppy with food and provide some practical tips to help you build a happy and well-behaved companion.

  1. The Power of Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement is an important training technique that focuses on rewarding desired behaviors so that they are likely to occur in the future. Food rewards are a highly effective form of positive reinforcement for puppies (because who doesn’t love a good snack for good behavior?!). By associating food with specific behaviors, you can motivate your puppy to repeat those behaviors and build good habits. This approach creates a positive and enjoyable learning environment, enhancing the bond between you and your pup.

  1. Choose the Right Treats:

When it comes to using food as a training tool, it’s crucial to select the appropriate treats. Opt for small, but not so small you drop them all over the floor, soft, and easily consumable treats that your puppy can quickly chew and digest. Break larger treats into pieces to maximize the number of rewards you can provide during a training session without overfeeding your puppy. Additionally, use treats that your puppy finds highly enticing and delicious, as this will make the training experience more rewarding and successful. We really love Vital FreshPet, Happy Howies, and RedBarn Meat Rolls!

  1. Timing is Key:

Timing plays a critical role in training a puppy with food. It’s crucial to offer the treat immediately after your puppy performs the desired behavior. This instantaneous reward helps your puppy associate the behavior with the treat, reinforcing the learning process. Almost more importantly, use a marker system — like a clicker or simply the word “YES” — to mark the behavior as it happens, followed by a treat reward. This gives you a second to deliver the puppy the food, while still making the correlation of behavior = reward.

  1. Start with Basic Commands:

Begin the training process by focusing on simple commands like “sit,” “stay,” and name recognition. These commands provide a foundation for further training and help instill discipline in your puppy’s behavior. You can use the food to lure the puppy into the proper position in the beginning. For example, hold a treat above your puppy’s head to prompt them into a sitting position. Once they sit, mark with “YES”, and deliver them the treat.

  1. Gradually Reduce Food Rewards:

As your puppy becomes proficient in basic commands, gradually reduce the frequency of food rewards. Transition to intermittent (or random) reinforcement, where you reward your puppy occasionally instead of every time. This technique helps reinforce the behavior while ensuring your puppy doesn’t become overly reliant on food rewards and becomes a gambler for good behavior. Gradually replace treats with verbal praise, petting, and other forms of affection to maintain their motivation and obedience, but you will use food for the entirety of your dogs life to randomly reward them for the right action.

  1. Incorporate Training into Daily Life:

Training a puppy with food should extend beyond formal training sessions. Integrate training into your daily routines and interactions with your pup. For instance, use treats to reward your puppy for good behavior during walks, when socializing with other dogs, or responding to their name. By incorporating training into everyday situations, you help your puppy understand that obedience and good behavior are expected at all times.

  1. Be Patient and Consistent:

Remember, training a puppy takes time, patience, and consistency. Every puppy learns at its own pace, so be prepared for setbacks and occasional mistakes. Stay calm, positive, and persistent throughout the training process. Consistency is key when using food rewards. Use the same commands and reward system every time to avoid confusion and reinforce your puppy’s understanding of the training process.


Training a puppy with food is a rewarding and effective way to shape their behavior, build a strong bond, and ensure they grow into well-behaved companions. By using positive reinforcement techniques and delicious treats, you can motivate your puppy to learn and obey commands while enjoying the training experience. Remember to choose appropriate treats, time your rewards correctly, and gradually reduce food rewards as your puppy progresses. With patience, consistency, and a positive attitude, you’ll set your furry friend up for a lifetime of happiness and good behavior.