How to Improve Your Dog or Puppy's Commands & Wean Off Treats.

Many times when clients come into our facility, we hear the same things:

"My dog will listen, but only if there's a treat."

"My dog will listen as long as nothing else is distracting them."


"My dog will listen, but does so in their own time."

There's a system you can use while treat training your puppy or dog that can make their obedience faster, more reliable and done on the first command.

Check out this video I made about it for our Facebook Group Members:

Step 1:

Choose a "marker word" to let your dog know when they've done the correct thing. Your marker word is very important! You could use "break", "free", "yes" or any other word you wish.

(I recommend staying away from "good boy/girl" because you say that all the time to your dog outside training. You want a word that's used for training only) Use "luring" with the treat to show your dog what to do. No need to say the command during this step. When they do it correctly, mark it and toss a treat away from you and they should go get it. This will reset your dog for the next repetition and teach them their marker word. It will take most dogs about 20 repetitions to start to catch on.

Step 2:

Once your dog understand exactly how to do the behavior and is doing it reliably, hide your treats and wait for the dog to "offer" you the command for that treat-without luring or bribery! Their treat should not be in sight. Hold it in a hand or keep it in a pouch. When your dog does the behavior, mark it (in this video I'm saying "break!" as my marker word), then throw a treat as a reward AND to get the dog up off their butt or belly to reset for the next repetition. If your dog fails to perform well at this step, go back to step 1 and practice a bit more, then try step 2 again after you've done some more step 1 repetitions.

Step 3:

Once your dog is doing Step 2 really well and is offering you the behavior without treat in sight, add your command word. Say the command just like you normally would, then wait for the dog to offer that behavior to you, when the do the command, mark it with your marker word, then throw a treat as a reward AND to get the dog up off their butt or belly to reset for the next repetition just like you did in the last step. This is the last step!

You can repeat this process for ANY command you're trying to teach your dog, even cute ones like roll-over or shake paws.

This is also something that can be practiced for your dog's lifetime to keep obedience sharp. If the dog knows the command really well, you'll start at Step 3 to "put them through their obedience paces." If the command is new and not yet learned, you'll start at Step 1.

The Secret to Weaning Off Treats:

By using a marker word like "break" or "yes", your dog starts to attach that word to positive outcomes. This means later on in training, you can say your marker word and your dog's reward centers of the brain will still light up- with or without a treat. Meaning that just hearing the marker word is as rewarding to your dog as getting a treat. As a tip, it is a good idea to train with food or treats once in a while (at home and in public) so that positive conditioned response to the marker word isn't lost over time.

Happy Training!

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We're located in East Milton and welcome customers all over the Gulf Coast to visit and train at our facility.


Training Appointment Hours:


TUES-FRI: 11am-4pm

SAT: 9am-12pm 


Find us:


6586 Caroline St.

Milton FL 32570

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