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How to Teach Your Dog Tricks without Treats

Learn how to teach your dog to do tricks without giving him treats in this Howcast dog training video featuring professional dog trainer Andrea Arden.


When training treats, most people use food as the reward. That works well for most dogs because for most dogs, the number one most exciting thing that you can give them is food, but that doesn't hold true for all dogs. Some dogs just aren't that excited by food, and many are a lot more excited by other things like toys or access to other dogs.

So when doing tricks training, it's important to look at your dog as an individual and think about what's rewarding to them. That could be things like attention from you, getting pet in a certain spot, getting a favorite tug toy, getting to have their leash taken off. Just about anything that your dog enjoys doing, you can use as a reward. For my dog, Maeby, one of the most exciting rewards that I can give her is a toy. I'm going to show you with her how to train her using a toy as the reward.

I'm going to get my tug toy and by also having her do this, she'll be learning how to control herself in the presence of something she's very excited about, which is this toy. She'll also be learning that she has to do something for me in order to get access to something she wants. We're going to start with a trick that she already knows. That's just going to be a sit. I'm going to get Maeby into a sit position and then release her to get her toy.

Good. Get it. Then we'll play tug with the toy a little bit. Drop. Sit. Okay. Maeby's starting to get the idea that in order to earn access to the toy, to playing with me, she has to do something for me first. Drop. Sit. Okay.

Now we're going to work on teaching her a brand new behavior. It's going to be to get on this disc here and to stay on it. Drop. I'm going to start by rewarding her when she gets on that disc. I'm just going to encourage her up. Good. Okay. And then release her to play with her toy. Drop. Good. Drop. Good. Okay. Very good.

Now, Maeby's learning a new trick in order to get her toy. And that's how you train without treats. Drop.

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