I’ve heard it many many times. My dog will do everything I want. . . as long as he knows I have a treat in my pocket (or hand, or bait bag, etc.) I could write an entire book chapter on this subject, but in this post, I will give you just one tip.
If you are one of the people who makes the above statement, I am willing to bet that if you have a treat in your pocket, you give it to your dog. If you do not have a treat in your pocket, your dog does not get a treat. Is that correct?
So here is your tip: For the next week, make yourself far less predictable. Sometimes have treats in your usual treat pocket. Sometimes reward your dog with that treat, and sometimes just praise, pet or reward in some way other than with the treat in your pocket. Sometimes have treats in a different pocket. Again, sometimes reward with that treat, sometimes not. And sometimes, make sure you have treats hidden in convenient places but NOT in your pocket. Sometimes rush to get that hidden treat and reward your dog. Sometimes reward in other ways.
Here’s the point. Your dog should not be able to predict when he will get a treat and when he will not. Up to this point, he has been pretty accurate in figuring out when treats will come and when they won’t. We want to keep him guessing and expecting that a treat COULD always be given regardless of whether or not it’s in your usual pocket. But he WON’T always get a treat, regardless of whether he knows you have one in your pocket or not.