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Puppy Basics: Expert Training Tips
Puppy Basics: Expert Training Tips

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Puppy Basics: Expert Training Tips

Q: When training my puppy, should I use table scraps as treats?

A: My personal preference is not to use food at all. When I have trained dogs for obedience, I have always used the verbal praise-reward method. It works well, especially with some dogs who are not motivated by food rewards.
 

Many people do use treat-based training with success, but I don't recommend offering table scraps as the treat. Giving a dog people food—in training or just as a general reward—may give the dog the idea that such food is fair game. It might encourage your pet to steal food from the table or from people, especially kids or guests.
 

In addition, many human foods can be toxic to dogs. These include chocolate, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and xylitol (a sweetener often used in gum, candy, and baked goods).
 

As an alternative to table scraps, you could train your dog with snacks that are tasty, low in fat, and commercially prepared for training. But keep in mind that soft chew snacks may be high in sugar, which is bad for dental health. When shopping for treats, read package labels and choose premium varieties that list meat as the first ingredient.
 

Use only small amounts for training purposes—treats should not interfere with the consistency of a normal diet or greatly affect the caloric intake for the size and age of the dog. The training sessions should be short in length and repeated several times throughout the day. For young dogs, the training period should be no longer than five minutes.
 

Finally, the most important training tip is to keep it positive. If you're getting frustrated with your puppy's naturally short attention span, take a break. Strive to end the session on a positive note so your pet will be eager for the next time.
 

Janet Tobiassen, DVM, a veterinarian based in the state of Washington, has been practicing and writing about vet medicine since 1999. She started training dogs at age 12, through 4-H, and continued pet therapy and obedience training in veterinary school and beyond.

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  • Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels
    Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels

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    Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels

    How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.

     

    1. The Ingredient Panel

    This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
     

    Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.

     

    2. The Guaranteed Analysis

    Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the "guaranteed analysis." These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.

     

    3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address

    This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.

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