Dog Training Tips: Make the Most of Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Don’t Let Those Thanksgiving Leftovers Go To Waste!

Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, and people and pets alike will be focused on one very important part of the holiday season: food! Of the many types of rewards to motivate your dogs (toys, activities, etc.), food is often preferred because it is easy to carry with us, has a fast delivery, and is an unconditioned reinforcer, which means your dog already knows that it is a necessity. 

As important as rewards are to training, it is equally important to consider a value system for those rewards. For example, a biscuit may not hold the same weight or value for your dog while at the park as it does in your house. If your training seems to be moving slowly or your dog is distracted by everything going on around them, offering a higher value treat may help you get to your goals faster and with less frustration on both ends of the leash. You can decrease your treat value or type of reward slowly once you have reached your training goal for that behavior.

Just as people have their favorites when it comes to Thanksgiving side dishes, dogs have their preferences, too. However, the following treats seem to be popular choices for canines.

High Value: Best for new or difficult behaviors and for distracted dogs

  • Turkey (perfect for your Turkey Day leftovers)
  • Chicken
  • Cheese
  • Hot dogs
  • Freeze dried liver

Moderate Value: Best for new or known behaviors or with some distraction and slight level of difficulty (packaged)

  • Zuke’s Mini Naturals
  • Pet Botanics Training Rewards
  • Redbarn Naturals Dog Food Rolls

Low Value: Best for known behaviors without distraction or new behaviors that are easy to learn

  • Biscuits and dry treats
  • Kibble
  • Vegetables/Fruit
    • Green beans (another Thanksgiving staple)
    • Carrots
    • Pumpkin (canned or cut pieces)
    • Blueberries
    • Bananas

Remember: Rewards are the most powerful tool in your dog training toolbox – they allow us to reinforce behaviors we like to see from our dogs so that those behaviors will continue. Make sure your toolbox is fully stocked with a variety of rewards and treats when you are training your dog at home or in one of AHS’ Dog Training classes!

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